New Electrical Wiring Regulations Explained

What’s the most frequently identifiable cause of large fire loss in commercial premises? Electrical installations. This is why commercial insurance policies often come with electrical inspection conditions and why the NIG Risk Control Team take electrical installation improvements seriously – regularly making recommendations during risk surveys.

This month sees the publication of the 18th Edition IET Wiring Regulations. These regulations apply to the design, erection and verification of electrical installations; and additions and alterations to existing installations.

Also known as BS 7671:2018 Requirements for Electrical Installations these were issued on 2nd July 2018 and will come into effect on 1st January 2019.

The period between publication and application gives a 6-month window for electrical contractors and others responsible for installing and maintaining electrical installations to become familiar with the new regulations.

Whilst there are many small changes from the previous 17th Edition some of the significant updates in the new 18th Edition cover:

  • Protection Against Electric Shock – changes to regulations relating to protective equipotential bonding and those relating to disconnection times.
  • Protection Against Thermal Effects – of particular relevance to fire, a new regulation has been introduced recommending the installation of arc fault detection devices (AFDDs) to mitigate the risk of fire in final circuits of a fixed installation due to the effects of arc fault currents.
  • Protection Against Voltage Disturbances – stipulating that transient over-voltage protection has to be installed when (amongst others) the consequences caused by over-voltage results in interruption of commercial or industrial activity.
  • Inspection and Testing – this has been revised to align Inspection and Testing requirements to other revisions within the 18th Edition.
  • Energy Efficiency – recommendations for the design and erection of electrical installations with local production and storage of energy to optimise the use of electricity. These are listed in a new appendix.

This doesn’t mean that existing electrical installations installed in accordance with earlier editions of the wiring regulations are now unsafe or require upgrading.  Any new installations, alteration or additions made from 1st January 2019 onwards will need to comply with the new regulations.

At this stage brokers and commercial customers should make those responsible for electrical installations aware of the new regulations (if they aren’t already) and familiarise themselves with the changes.

When choosing electrical contractors to inspect and test electrical installations in your premises, it’s always recommended to hire contractors who are members of trade bodies such as NICEIC, ECA, and SELECT* who brief and offer guidance and/or training to their members to ensure work complies with current regulations.

Did you know that there’s a suite of useful risk management documents on the NIG website? Take a look at our trading support area for detailed guidance on managing risks including those associated with electrical equipmentClick here to access these free risk management resources and there’s even a free business continuity planning tool.

*NICEIC – National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting, ECA – Electrical Contractors Association, SELECT – Electrical Contractors Association of Scotland

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