Electricity at Work Act 1989

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Electricity at work act 1989

Electrical regulations in the UK play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and reliability of electrical systems and equipment, and in protecting the people who use them.

They are important because they ensure the safety of electrical installations and equipment, and help prevent accidents, injuries, and damage to property that could be caused by electrical malfunctions or misuse.

When it comes to electrical safety at the workplace, the regulations are governed by the Electricity at Work Act 1989. Every workplace, including offices, shops, schools, factories, and warehouses must abide by these regulations. The inability to do so can land them in some serious trouble.

In order to abide by the Electricity at Work Act 1989, you need to understand what they are and what they involve. Read on to find out all about them, why they are so important, and how businesses can stay up to date:


The Electricity at Work Act 1989 (EAWA) is a law in the UK related to electrical safety at work. It aims to protect people from the risks of electricity at the workplace and applies to a wide range of sectors and industries including construction, manufacturing, and utilities.

The EAWA requires business owners and employers to ensure that the electrical systems and equipment used at work are safe and properly maintained.

This includes ensuring that the electrical installations and equipment are designed, constructed, installed, and maintained in accordance with the relevant electrical safety standards.

According to the regulations, the responsible individuals must:

  • Have the electrical systems constructed and installed in a way that they are compliant with the law,
  • Conduct periodic electrical inspections and testing through a certified electrician,
  • Have all the electrical appliances on the premises tested under Portable Appliance Testing (PAT),
  • Teach their employees general housekeeping and train them on how to safely work with electricity.

Under the EAWA, employers have a legal responsibility to assess and identify the risks associated with electrical work and to take the necessary measures in order to prevent accidents and injuries.

This may include carrying out risk assessments, providing appropriate training and supervision to all those in the workplace, and implementing safe work procedures and practices.

Employees also have a responsibility to follow safe work procedures and to immediately report any unsafe conditions and practices to their employer.

The EAWA requires business owners and employees to keep accurate records of all the electrical work being carried out at the workplace, which includes testing and inspection records. They must be made available for inspections by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or a local authority.

The EAWA also grants the HSE and local authorities the right to enter workplaces, inspect the electrical systems and installations, and take the necessary action if the regulations are being contravened.

The EAWA is supported by a number of regulations and guidelines including:

  • The Electricity Safety, Quality, and Continuity Regulations 2002 (ESQCR)
  • The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSW Act).


Other than helping you identify any potential health and safety risks and staying compliant with the law, following the EAWA regulations offers several other benefits as well.

A properly installed and well-maintained electrical system can help enhance efficiency in the workplace by making sure all the appliances and installations are fully optimised.

Not only will this help increase the speed of work but also help with productivity levels. Imagine working in an office space with flickering lights and a buzzing sound enough to give you a headache.

Lighting plays an important role in workplace productivity and by ensuring you have the right one installed, you can boost both your employees’ mood and productivity.

Also, working on a computer that overheats and is extremely slow vs using an optimised computer will have a drastic impact on the quality of work produced by your employees.

In addition to that, by conducting regular electrical testing, businesses can identify issues before they turn into a big mess and avoid costly repairs, saving money in the long run.

Having a safe and well-maintained electrical system can also have an effect on your business insurance. Periodically testing the electrics minimises the risk of damages, injuries, and other incidents – which is something that all insurance companies look for.

If you can prove that your electrical installations are properly installed and maintained, some insurers even offer discounts on premiums.

Last, but certainly not least, a workplace that gives due importance to its employees, customers, and visitors is seen as a more reliable and responsible one. It shows that they care about providing a safe working environment that benefits not only them but also the other main stakeholders.


There are several ways that businesses can stay up to date with the EAWA. They include following a few best practices which include:

  • Consulting the legislation: to make sure that businesses are aware of their obligations and responsibilities when it comes to electrical safety in the workplace, they can consult with the EAWA and other relevant regulations.
  • Attending training and seminars: there is no better way to understand the importance of electrical safety and to keep up to date with the latest requirements than by attending training courses and seminars offered by professionals.
  • Subscribing to newsletters and alerts: businesses can subscribe to newsletters and alerts from organisations such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to receive updates on the EAWA and to know about any changes made to it.
  • Regularly reviewing and updating electrical policies and procedures: electrical policies and procedures must be regularly reviewed and updated to make sure they are in line with the EAWA and other relevant regulations.
  • Seeking advice from experts: for a simple solution, businesses can seek advice from electrical safety experts, such as electrical engineers, in order to ensure all their electrical installations and appliances are compliant with the EAWA.


Electrical installations in line with the Electricity at Work Act 1989 (EAWA) are designed, constructed, and maintained in a way that ensures the safety of people who work with electricity.

An electrical installation includes all the fixed electrical equipment on a property such as the wiring, cables, accessories (sockets, switches, and light fixtures), and the consumer unit.

To ensure a good electrical installation, you need to hire a NICEIC-certified electrician who has adequate knowledge of the correct procedures and the current wiring rules and regulations.

A good electrical installation includes:

  • Ensuring adequate sockets for all the electrical appliances in the workplace to minimise the use of multiway sockets and extension cords that lead to overheating.
  • Guarding live parts of electrical equipment against accidental contact,
  • Installing a Residual Current Device (RCD) protection to provide additional protection against electric shocks.
  • Proper grounding and earthing arrangements so that the circuit breaker can eliminate any electrical faults before they turn into a hazard.
  • Installing enough circuits to avoid danger and to minimise issues in the event of a fault.


Under the Electricity at Work Regulations, you have a legal responsibility to keep all your electrical installations in a safe condition for your employees, clients, and visitors.

The best way to determine whether your office electrics are safe for use is through regular inspection and maintenance.

According to the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC), there are a few types of electrical checks that must be carried out to ensure everything is working as it should. They include:

User checks

User checks refer to checking the electrical appliances and equipment before every use and are conducted by electrical equipment users or operators. In a workplace, the users may be the employees and staff members using the electrical equipment.

These checks are designed to ensure that the electrical equipment is being used safely and in accordance with the electrical safety standards and regulations.

User checks may involve checking the condition of electrical equipment, verifying that it has been installed and maintained properly and that it is being used in a safe and appropriate manner.

Visual inspection

A visual inspection is carried out to inspect any visible signs of damage or defect, after which a Visual Inspection Report (VIR) is generated. The report provides a general summary of the electrical installation’s health by recording all the observations and recommendations.

During a visual inspection, an electrician is likely to check the fuse board, sockets, lights, plugs, switches, cables and leads, earthing and bonding, visible signs of wear and tear, and burning, as well as the kitchen and bathroom safety.

Detailed inspection

A detailed inspection, also known as fixed wiring testing, is more detailed than a visual inspection and is carried out to identify any damages, defects, or deterioration that may have been missed in the initial checks.

It involves testing all the circuits, appliances, machinery, and installations around the workplace, with the main purpose of determining whether the current installations are satisfactory for continued use or not, at the end of which an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) is made.

An EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) is basically a detailed summary of the conditions of the electrics in the office and whether they comply with the current British Standards for electrical safety.

Once the EICR check is completed, the condition of the electrical installation is classified into three codes:

Code C1 – indicates that danger exists and immediate action is required; Code C2 – indicates that, while the observation is not considered to be dangerous at the moment, it could become a real and immediate danger if a fault or other foreseeable event was to occur; and Code C3 – indicating that, while the observation is not considered to be dangerous at the moment, improvements would contribute greatly to the overall health of the system.

In the UK, the frequency at which electrical testing is required depends on the type of workplace and the specific electrical installations and equipment that are present in it.

The fixed wiring must be tested and inspected at least every 5 years, or sooner if there is a change in the use of the building or if any alteration or addition is made to the electrical installations.


Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) refers to the examination and inspection of portable electrical appliances to make sure they are safe to use and to prevent accidents and injuries while using them. It must be done on a routine basis and clear and concise records must be kept.

Since most workplaces these days are heavily dependent on electrical equipment, it is very important to make sure it remains safe to use. Using faulty electrical equipment can put employees in harm’s way, which is something you, as an employer, would never want.

A PAT test includes both a visual examination of the appliances as well as a more in-depth inspection. While most issues and faults can be detected during the visual examination, some defects may only be able to be detected using specialist PAT testing equipment during the detailed inspection.

An in-depth PAT test includes the following checks:

  • Earth continuity
  • Lead polarity
  • Insulation resistance

Although there is no legal requirement to carry out the tests, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises all commercial property owners to conduct PAT tests every 3 to 12 months, depending on the type and use of the appliance. The frequency depends on the type of equipment being tested and the specific requirements of the workplace.

Some workplaces prefer to have more frequent PAT tests if they have a large number of electrical appliances or if their daily operations are heavily dependent on them.


If you are looking for a registered electrician for the installation, maintenance, and inspection of your property’s electrical system, look no further.

We offer a wide range of services to meet the demands of our clients which include all aspects of domestic, commercial, and industrial installations, along with testing services for all kinds of properties.

All our work is fully insured and we work to meet the standards set to us by the NICEIC to make sure all your electrical installations meet the current regulations and all the notifiable work is signed off by the local authorities.

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, broken items that need repairing, or checking if you feel something is unsafe or a potential hazard.

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 will identify and test each circuit to make sure they are not deteriorating and are safe for use.

We can 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 get in touch with our professional electricians for more information on the Electricity at Work Act 1989.

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