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Fixed Wire and PAT Testing Guide for Arts, Entertainment and Recreation

In this article, we explain the fixed wire and PAT testing regulations for companies within the arts, entertainment and recreation industries.

What are fixed wire and PAT tests?

Fixed wire testing is the safety testing of the electrical circuits installed in arts, entertainment and recreation venues, such as cinemas, theatres, bowling alleys and spas. Portable Appliance Testing (PAT testing) is the inspection of portable electrical equipment and plugged-in appliances to make sure that they are working properly and safe to use.

Is fixed wire testing compulsory in arts, entertainment and recreation premises?

In any place of employment or public venue, the testing of electrical circuits is compulsory. This is required to ensure that companies comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Electricity at Work Regulations, and it is the company’s owners or directors who have the responsibility to ensure compliance is met and that testing is properly carried out.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 makes employers responsible for the health, safety and welfare of anyone at their offices or venues, including employees, members of the public and contractors. The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, meanwhile, requires companies to ensure that all electrical systems are properly maintained so that they are not a danger to anyone on-site.

More specifically, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) requires arts, entertainment and recreation companies to comply with the IET Wiring Regulations. To achieve compliance, all electrical installations must be installed and maintained to British Standard BS7671. Failure to comply with BS7671 means non-compliance with both the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Electricity at Work Regulations. Where compliance is not met, the company and its directors risk prosecution if an electrical accident or incident occurs.

How frequently should fixed wire testing be carried out?

The BS7671 Wiring Regulations, 18th Edition, 2018, states that business premises and public venues, such as art galleries, amusement arcades, bingo halls, etc., should undertake routine annual inspections of their electrical installations. In addition, a formal fixed wire test must take place every five years. This has to be carried out by a suitably qualified electrical contractor, like Quest Electrical.

Following the formal fixed wire test, the contractor will issue the company with an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). The company will need this report to verify that a properly qualified contractor has undertaken a formal inspection of the electrical installations.

The EICR specifies what has been inspected, together with any remedial work needed for compliance with the IET Wiring Regulations and British Standards BS7671. Compliance cannot be met and the EICR cannot be used as proof that the company has met its testing responsibilities until the remedial work is completed and the contractor is satisfied that the electrical systems are in proper working order.

If a formal fixed wire test does not take place within five years, the previous EICR goes out of date and the company will be unable to prove it has met its legal requirement to test its electrical systems. As the company directors are accountable, this makes them liable for any electrical accidents and puts them at risk of prosecution. Without a current EICR report, the company may also find that important insurance policies, like buildings and contents and public liability, become invalid.

Is PAT Testing compulsory in arts, entertainment and recreation venues?

Although there is no legal requirement to carry out PAT testing, the Electricity at Work Regulations, 1989, put a duty on employers to ensure electrical equipment is safe to use and doesn’t present a risk of injury.

Keeping equipment safe is essential in arts, entertainment and recreation venues where a wide range of different appliances are used by both staff and customers, often heavily and sometimes without care. Wear, tear and carelessness increase the risk of damage and PAT testing is important to ensure the company knows that appliances are safe to use. If an employee or customer suffers an electrical injury from an untested appliance, the company could be at risk of being sued.

As there is no legal obligation for PAT tests, there is no statutory guidance over their frequency. However, it has become established best practice across all sectors in the UK to have a qualified electrician carry out PAT tests once a year. This way, directors can rest assured that the company has fulfilled its legal responsibility to maintain portable electrical appliances in a safe condition.

For more information visit our Fixed Wire Testing or PAT Testing pages.

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