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Not RIP for PIRs - But How Do We Complete the New EICRs?

Release Date: 31/08/2012

Getting some wires crossed is maybe the best description for the 2012 Amendment 1 to BS7671 2008, the IET Wiring Regulations 17th edition. One of the major changes affecting electrical contractors is the new Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) to replace the old Periodic Inspection Reports (PIRs).

These amendments have spawned many myths along the way, but there has been one fundamental change – the paperwork that is completed when undertaking an inspection of an existing electrical installation.  Giuliano Digilio, Head of Technical Services for the ECA, looks at some of the areas that contactors need to be aware of when completing the new paperwork.

Page 1
There is now a requirement to state the name of the person with whom any limitations have been agreed (Section D).  With some contracts it is not always possible to predict the limitations that can occur but there are 2 possible type of limitations that can be listed; Agreed and Operational.

Agreed limitations are discussed with the client prior to commencement of the work to clarify in advance what will be excluded from the inspection and testing, for example no access to high level luminaries or specialist equipment, etc.

Operational limitations are those situations that are only discovered whilst doing the work and will have an impact on the overall result. These limitations require a written reason or justification to explain why they are outside of the inspection, for example, lack of access to a particular area or room. 

Section E of the report is another area that has changed and requires some clarification. This is where the contractor must give their summary of the existing installation.  Now, if a genuine C1 or C2 is raised then an Unsatisfactory result for the installation must be given.  This can significantly impact the owner of the installation and places a lot of responsibility on the contractor undertaking the work to ensure they issue the appropriate code for each observation listed.

Page 2
The first part of page 2 remains the same as before, asking for the same details as the older PIR forms. Where there is a change is in Section K - Observations.  Previously, contractors were required to give a code of 1 to 4 against each observation, with 1 being the most severe situation.  Now there are only 3 codes to consider:
C1 – Danger present
C2 – Potentially dangerous
C3 – Improvement recommended

The option for ‘Further Investigation’ is still present but when used is not to be given a code.

Contractors need to recognise the importance of consistency in providing a good inspection and testing service to their customers. When issuing a code against any observation, the contractor needs to ensure that they consider each observation in broadly the same way.

One point of note with the new C3 – Improvement recommended, is that it should be explained to the end user that although an improvement is recommended it does not affect the overall electrical safety of the installation or need to be considered as urgent by the client.  For examples and tips on what codes could be applicable to what situation, refer to the Electrical Safety Council’s Best Practice Guide called Electrical Installation Condition Reports.

Schedule of Inspections (SOI)
This section has the most notable change as it has increased from 1 to 2 pages.

On the old PIR forms the Schedule of Inspections was the same as for the Electrical Installation Certificate, an often confusing collection of boxes that required marking appropriately.  Now the new forms have made life easier for the contractor by splitting the form into 7 sections, hence the increase in the number of pages. There is now a full description against each area of the inspection, as well as the regulation number that is applicable to the particular observation or fault.  It is worth pointing out that the Schedule of Inspections is related to the whole installation so there is no need to complete one for each distribution board, one of the myths we referred to earlier.

The majority of this form is self-explanatory; the contractor will compare the installation that they are faced with against the form requirements, although section 1.0 needs careful consideration and can have a significant impact for a client.  This section relates to the Distribution Equipment and asks the contractor to comment on this specific equipment.  This makes sense as an exposed live part within the installation (C1) is just as dangerous as an exposed live part in the distributor’s equipment, although the responsibility of the repair and maintenance is very different. 

We would recommend that if a contractor is undertaking an EICR and there are no C1 or C2s recorded for the clients’ installation but some issues appear on the distributors equipment that this is marked on the Schedule of Inspections and on page 2 but does NOT result in an Unsatisfactory result overall.  This would need to be clearly explained to the client as it will become their responsibility to contact the distributor and request the repair.

Contractors can use this form as an aide memoire as to what areas need inspecting within an electrical installation though due to the nature and size of some installations this list is not exhaustive. This is best seen in section 7 (other special locations). Section 6 refers comprehensively to locations with baths or showers but what if there is an installation with a swimming pool or a medical location?  This is where the contractor can use their initiative to expand on to other sheets or can employ the use of certification software such as PIRform.

Schedule of Test Results
The general requirements of this particular form have not altered greatly from the previous editions of the Wiring Regulations, although it is worth noting some small changes. There is now a requirement to record the Zs and Ipf of each Distribution Board, especially useful where an installation has multiple distribution boards.  As with previous incarnations, it is also necessary to confirm polarity and phase sequence (where appropriate) at each distribution board.

The IET has added a few additional pieces of required information into the Circuit Details and Test Results section, starting with the Reference Method.  The particular method in installation can impact on the potential current carrying capacity of the cable, giving the experienced Inspector and Tester some clear guidelines as to cable’s suitability.  This information can be found in Table 4A2 of Appendix 4 of BS7671.

There is also the addition of ring final circuit continuity test results. These were always a requirement to undertake though not all certificates had provision to record the result. A specific box for the 5IΔn test result for applicable RCDs and a Test button operation box have now been included. Additional notes, when needed, can be appended to the document.