The use of electricity makes it essential that all electrical systems are managed without giving rise to danger. All types of medical locations require periodic inspection and testing to demonstrate compliance with the Electricity at Work Regulations (EaWR) 1989.

Medical environments are recognised within BS7671, as special locations. There are numerous regulations that give guidance on the type of electrical installation that must be provided to ensure the safety of patients, visitors and medical staff.

The following list is not exhaustive:

  • BS 7671:2008 IET Wiring Regulations 17th Edition-AMD.3, Section 710 Medical Locations
  • IET Guidance Note 7 – Special Locations section 9 Health Technical Memorandum (HTM) 06-01: Electrical Services supply and distribution
  • Medical Electrical Installation Guidance Notes (MEIGaN)

There is a preconception that medical locations cannot be inspected and tested due to the nature of their 24/7/365 usage. This is not the case. We have vast experience in this field and have developed unique programmes of work for a large number of hospitals, enabling electrical testing to be completed with minimal disruption to operations.

It is true that most medical locations will have high risk areas where the interruption of supplies could have life threatening consequences, but with good planning these high-risk areas can be dealt with in a controlled manner. Testing can be completed within these areas simply by undertaking works during quiet periods such as nights, and/or weekends.

High risk areas include:

  • Operating theatres
  • High Dependency Units / Intensive Care
  • Maternity units
  • Isolation Units
  • Day surgery units

The Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow

PTSG (via constituent company Guardian) was selected to attend site and present its capability to deliver a programme of works for the Fixed Wire Inspection and Testing. During this presentation, in addition to demonstrating our ability to deliver the project, we also presented the Senior Estates Manager with an alternative solution to achieve compliance with the EaWR 1989.

Our alternative method was to adopt a two-stage strategy that would cause the least impact on the hospital’s normal operations and deliver further cost savings, in the medium- to long-term life of the hospital.

The initial stage, named the First Stage Strategy, was completed over one year. This consisted of periodic inspection and testing of the site annually over a five-year period: 20% each year.

The significant advantage of the First Stage approach was the ability to determine which departments of the hospital may be affected by isolation of main and sub-main distribution. Due to its success, the Senior Estates Manager chose to accelerate the Second Stage, which was originally a five-year programme, to a two-year programme. Within three years, the whole electrical installation of the hospital had been 100% tested in accordance to the EaWR 1989.

The project was delivered with minimal intrusion on The Princess Alexandra Hospital, and no incidents of inadvertent isolation of essential supplies, which was the main concern at the beginning of the project.