Commercial electrical testing and inspection

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Commercial Electrical Testing Inspection

Electrical wiring and installations are what help us light our properties, use electronic machines and appliances, and do so many of our everyday tasks.

They are an essential part of all commercial and industrial properties and are one of the basic systems in any building.

While it is true that electricity is what runs almost all businesses, it is mandatory for all employers to ensure that all the electrical installations are safe to use by their employees.

One of the best ways to do so is through commercial and industrial electrical testing and inspection. An electrical inspection will indicate whether your electrical installations are safe and compliant with the law, and is carried out in accordance with the BS 7671 wiring regulations.

Read on to find out what commercial and industrial electrical testing and inspection consist of, what is required in different building types such as offices and warehouses, and why it is so important:


Before we discuss more about commercial and industrial electrical testing and inspection, it is important to understand what you, as an employer, are required to do as per the law to ensure electrical safety on your business premises.

You have a legal responsibility to protect your employees from all kinds of safety and security threats, including those arising from faulty electrical wiring and installations.

In the UK, the law that lays down this duty is known as the Health and Safety at Work Act, within which there are laws known as the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 that dictate every aspect of how electricity must be used, tested, and maintained in a workplace.

These regulations not only give employers a legal duty of making sure all electrical equipment is safe and fit for the purpose but also places responsibility on the employees to use the equipment carefully.


The majority of electricity-related accidents and injuries in the workplace are a result of poorly installed and inadequately maintained electrical equipment that results in:

There are a few common signs that indicate a faulty electrical installation, such as flickering lights and the circuit breaking tripping excessively. Some more serious signs include smoke or burning, both of which typically manifest at a later stage when the damage has already been done and can cause serious harm to both human life and business property.

The best way to catch such issues before they become big problems is through periodic electrical testing and maintenance, especially for commercial and industrial properties such as offices and warehouses.

Electrical testing and inspection include not only the electrical wiring and lighting but also all the electrical appliances, machinery, computers, security systems, and heating and cooling systems.

During the process, a professional electrical best suited to carry out the job ensures that all the above-mentioned electrical systems and appliances are working properly, along with recommending the best preventive measures to stop any future issues from arising.


Everything electrical is prone to corrosion and general wear and tear, especially when subjected to heavy use common in commercial and industrial properties.

Commercial and industrial electrical testing and inspection refer to a detailed check-up of the electrical systems on your property.

It is also known as periodic inspection and testing and is carried out by a certified and professional electrician with the relevant skills, expertise, and equipment to carry out the entire process.

It aims to:

  • Confirm that the wiring and installations are not faulty, damaged, or corroded,
  • Ensure the safety of people and property against electrical shocks and fires, and
  • Ensure that the building conforms to the wiring regulations for safety against electrical risks and hazards.

Four types of safety checks are included in electrical testing and inspection. They include user checks, visual inspections, detailed inspections, and portable appliance testing (PAT).

User checks

User checks refer to routine checks done by the employees where they look for obvious visual signs such as damages to the cables, plugs, and wall outlet, burn marks on the equipment, plugs, and sockets, trapped, knotted, or frayed cables, and water damage to the equipment.

Visual inspections

Visual inspections are more thorough and require a bit of technical knowledge, at the end of which a Visual Inspection Report (VIR) is made.

They are performed by employees trained to perform them and must be done every 6 to 12 months. They include looking for damages to any part of the plug, fuses and wires connected incorrectly, exposed wiring, and discolouration of any sockets.

Detailed inspections

Detailed inspections, also known as fixed wiring testing, are more detailed than visual inspections and are done to identify any damages, defects, or deterioration that may have been missed in the initial checks.

They are carried out by trained and certified professionals who test the wiring and various circuits around the property and are typically conducted every 3 to 5 years.

The purpose of a detailed inspection is to determine whether the current electrical installations are satisfactory for continued use or not, at the end of which an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) is made.

An EICR provides a detailed summary of the conditions of the electrical systems and whether they comply with the current British Standards for electrical safety or not.

In addition to recording several observations, an EICR also makes recommendations where improvements may be required for safety.

Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)

This fourth type of test is called Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) and is also carried out by a professional electrician once a year, depending on the age of the equipment, how often it is used, whether it might have been misused, or has been altered or repaired in the past.

It is a routine inspection to test items that are not part of the fixed wiring and do not fall under the electrical testing of the premises.

Electrical appliances that have a cable and plug, can be disconnected from their power source and can be easily moved all fall under this category.

Some common portable appliances include desktops, laptops, printers, photocopiers, refrigerators, microwaves, toasters, portable heaters, table lamps, phone chargers, and extension cords.


Commercial and industrial electrical testing and inspection is a necessary procedure that indicates whether your electrical installations are safe to be used by you and your employees.

Here are the main reasons why it is vital for your business premises:

Electrical installation compliance

Electrical installation and wiring, like all other things, deteriorate over time. For this reason, they need to be periodically maintained, tested and inspected.

It is a requirement under The Electricity of Work Act 1989 that, as a business or commercial space, you make sure that your installations are deemed safe for use by your employees and the public.

The inability to do so, especially if there is an electricity-related incident or mishap on your premises, can land you in some serious trouble and deep lawsuits.

Health and safety

Health and safety are probably two of the biggest benefits you can get out of regular electrical inspections, all others being secondary advantages.

Faulty wiring and installations can pose a serious threat to a property and the people in it. Electric shocks and burns are very common and, in serious cases, they can cause sparks in the wiring resulting in fires.

A thorough inspection guarantees that all your installations are compliant with the law and there are no safety risks associated with the electrical systems.

Cost savings

Periodic testing and inspections are classified as preventative maintenance rather than reactive maintenance since they help identify faults and defects before they pose any substantial damage to you or your property.

Power surges and outages can cause long-term damage to expensive equipment, such as computers, causing them to either malfunction or stop working completely – the resulting repairing costs for which could be huge and unanticipated.

Also, faulty and inadequate electrical installations could unnecessarily add to your electricity bill despite you not consuming that much power. Regular electrical inspections don’t just check and rectify issues in your current installations but also provide time and cost savings for future inspections.

In addition to that, it also minimises the risk of potential downtime for your business which, depending on the nature of your business, can result in some serious losses.

Liability and insurance

Having your installations thoroughly and periodically tested minimises the risk of damages, injuries, and other incidents – which is something that all insurance companies look for.

They just want to be sure that you have done all that you are required to do to make your property safe from all potential electricity-related risks.

You must always keep the important documents issued to you after the inspection in a safe place since providing evidence of up-to-date electrical installations not just reduces your insurance premiums, but also helps you make a claim in the event of an electricity-related mishap.


Fixed wire testing, also known as an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR), checks whether your electrical installations and circuits conform to the latest wiring regulations and are safe to use by those on the premises.

Depending on the type of business you are running, the frequency of this test varies between 1 and 5 years, with some requiring more frequent inspections than the other.

As specified in the latest version of the wiring regulations (BS 7671:2018), the frequency of testing is determined by the type of electrical installations, how often they are used, and the external or environmental influences to which the installations are exposed.

For many business premises, an EICR will be required at the lowest frequency – every 5 years. However, for high-risk environments, it will be required every 3 years, or earlier.

It should be noted that these stated periods are at maximum intervals, and if the deterioration of the installations occurs at a quicker pace, it may indicate the need to reduce the duration between testing.

Commercial properties that require 5-yearly electrical testing and inspection include:

  • Offices and retail outlets
  • Restaurants and hotels
  • Schools, colleges, and universities
  • Laboratories
  • Care homes and hospitals (except medical locations)
  • Community centres and churches
  • Halls of residence and houses of multiple occupancies

Places that constitute a higher risk, such as those exposed to moisture, dust, and extreme temperatures, require more frequent testing every 1 to 3 years, with more frequent inspections every few months.

Typical workplaces that require 3-yearly electrical testing and inspection include:

  • Industrial units
  • Spas and leisure centres
  • Caravans
  • Agriculture or horticulture establishments
  • Theatres
  • Places of public entertainment
  • Cinemas (back of house)

Typical environments that require yearly electrical testing and inspection include:

  • Cinemas (front of house)
  • Medical locations in clinics and hospitals
  • Caravan parks and marinas
  • Swimming pools and saunas
  • Petrol stations

Manufacturing and storage facilities such as warehouses and workshops generally fall under the 3-year industrial category if they use heavy machinery on the premises.

It is also common to find elements within an organisation with different testing frequencies, for instance, a manufacturing facility (3 years) with offices inside it (5 years) or a hotel (5 years) with a swimming pool (1 year).

In such instances, each element must be tested and inspected at its appropriate frequency. If you are unsure, it is always best to consult with a professional service that can develop a proper testing schedule taking into account the different elements present on your property to maximise efficiency and minimise any forms of disruption to your business and property.


Electrical testing is an important part of a property’s safety, which is why it must be carried out responsibly by someone trained to do the job.

To ensure all areas are covered in the testing process and they meet the current safety regulations, you must choose a reliable and registered commercial electrician who has the relevant experience and is trained to carry out the inspection.

A trained and certified professional commercial electrician will:

  • Have the necessary training and expertise, along with lots of experience working in the field, including commercial buildings such as offices, restaurants, shopping centres, warehouses, and retail stores.
  • Offer peace of mind that everything will be done while keeping everyone’s safety in mind,
  • Quickly troubleshoot issues thanks to their deep understanding of the systems that help you save both time and money,
  • Offer fully insured work, which means that you won’t have to worry about any damages or accidents during the testing process,
  • Provide commercial electrical certificates that are relied on by business owners, landlords, and building control authorities to determine the electrical safety of a property.


We have been providing electrical services to residential, commercial, and industrial properties for over 40 years and are specialists in all aspects of electrical installations, maintenance, and testing.

We have experienced and fully qualified electrical engineers on hand to deliver a professional and high-quality service and are NICEIC registered following the current wiring regulations.

If you have unplanned issues within your home or business, we can provide a call out service to rectify and solve any problems – anything from circuits tripping, loss of power, and broken items that need repairing, to checking for potential faults and safety hazards.

Our team can generate a Visual Inspection Report (VIR) to identify anything visual that does not comply with the standards or looks unsafe, as well as a full Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) where we identify and test each circuit to make sure they are not deteriorating and are safe for use within the current standards and regulations set by the BS 7671.

We also provide PAT testing of appliances to make sure that any items such as kettles, computers, and microwaves are safe for use in the home and workplace.

Contact us here or call us on 0800 612 3001 to talk to our certified team of electricians right away!

Photo by Laura Davidson on Unsplash