Electrical Regulations Explained

What regulations affect electrical work?

The electrical installation work is governed by industry standards and a legal framework. 


Industry Standards are voluntary codes of rules written by the industry to which they apply and approved by a nationally recognised body.  They are aimed at simplifying the terminology, processes and procedures used within that particular industry.


Standards (whether International, European or British) do not form part of law, nor are they legally enforceable, except where they form part of a contract.  In a contract, the relevant standards will normally be stated as the standard of work required to fulfil the contract.


However, some standards are given an elevated status when referred to either directly or indirectly in statutes.  The most significant example of this for the electrical industry is British Standard 7671 which is referred to indirectly in the Electricity at Work (1989) Regulations (via the HS(R)25 document) and directly in the Approved Document for Part P of the Building Regulations. Being referred to directly or indirectly in legislation gives the standards a pseudo legal status.


Legal Framework

As well as industry standards, electrical contractors are subject to a number of statutory regulations covering health and safety, safe working practices and management of electrical supply and products.  In addition to legislation, contractors are also bound by their duties and responsibilities under contract law. Key legal requirements for electrical work are outlined in:

  • The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 - these regulations have far reaching implications for all employers.  They impose a duty of care on employers to manage their electrical systems and products so as not to cause death or injury to others.  The regulations cover the design, construction, operation and maintenance of these systems.

  • The Building Act 1984 & 2000: The Building Regulations - stem from the main Act of Parliament, the Building Act 1984.  The Building Regulations exist to promote standards for most aspects of a building's construction, including its structure, fire safety, sound insulation, drainage, ventilation and electrical safety.

To ensure that the electrical work you are having done is compliant, use a registered contractor. You can find one through our Find Contractors search facility.