Deciphering BS 7671: Navigating the Special Locations in Electrical Installations and Safety Regulations

In BS 7671, which is the British Standard for electrical installation and wiring regulations, “special locations” refer to areas where there is an increased risk of electric shock due to the presence of water or other conductive materials, or where operational conditions require additional protection measures.

What is classified as a Special Location?

Within the scope of BS 7671, a variety of environments are classified as special locations, each with unique challenges and specific safety requirements.

This classification includes:

  1. Bathrooms and Shower Rooms: Areas with increased risk due to the presence of water, require specific safety measures such as extra low voltage (SELV) systems and particular types of electrical equipment.
  2. Swimming Pools and Other Basins: This includes areas around swimming pools, saunas, hot tubs, and fountains, where the risk of electric shock is higher due to the proximity to water.
  3. Agricultural and Horticultural Premises: These locations have increased electrical risks due to the presence of conductive materials, dust, and moisture.
  4. Outdoor Lighting and Power Installations: Installations exposed to the weather and garden equipment that require specific consideration regarding protection against moisture and mechanical damage.
  5. Locations Containing a Bath or Shower: The regulations cover specific zones within these locations, dictating what kind of electrical equipment can be installed and the necessary protection against moisture.
  6. Hot Air Saunas: Special considerations are given to the heating elements and control gear of saunas, particularly regarding temperature and humidity.
  7. Caravans, Caravan Parks, and Similar Locations: These locations require specific safety measures due to the limited space and increased risk of damage to cables and equipment.
  8. Exhibition Shows and Stands: Temporary installations such as these have unique requirements due to their temporary nature and the variety of electrical devices typically used.
  9. Construction Sites: These are areas with a high likelihood of mechanical damage and external influences that can affect electrical safety.
  10. Marinas and Similar Locations: Given their proximity to water and the specific types of electrical equipment used, these locations have special requirements.
  11. Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Power Supply Systems: Special considerations are necessary for the installation and connection of solar panels and associated electrical systems.
  12. Electric Vehicle Charging Installations: As electric vehicles become more common, specific regulations govern the safe installation of charging points.

These special locations are subject to more stringent building regulations within BS 7671 to ensure a higher level of safety due to the increased risk factors present.

It’s important for professionals working in these areas to be thoroughly familiar with the specific requirements of BS 7671 as it relates to each type of special location.

Special Locations in BS 7671: Why They Matter for Enhanced Electrical Safety

The concept of “special locations” in BS 7671, which is the UK standard for electrical installation and wiring regulations, plays a crucial role in ensuring electrical safety.

These special locations are areas where the risk of electric shock and other electrical hazards are significantly higher due to specific environmental conditions or the nature of the space.

Professionals working in these areas must thoroughly understand the unique challenges and hazards posed, guided by the regulations and guidance notes of BS 7671.

Here’s why they are so critical:

1. Enhanced Safety Measures:

  • Special locations are identified because they require additional protective measures to ensure safety. For instance, in areas like bathrooms or swimming pools, the proximity to water greatly increases the risk of electric shock. BS 7671 provides guidelines on how to mitigate these risks, such as using Residual Current Devices (RCDs) or implementing stricter earthing requirements.

2. Prevention of Electrical Hazards:

  • By specifying stringent requirements for special locations, BS 7671 aims to prevent serious electrical hazards. This includes not only electric shocks but also the risks of electrical fires, equipment malfunctions, and other incidents that could result in injury or property damage.

3. Adaptation to Specific Environments:

  • Each special location has unique characteristics that affect how electrical systems should be installed and maintained. For example, agricultural environments might have a higher presence of dust and moisture, requiring different considerations compared to a residential bathroom.
  • Compliance with BS 7671 is not just best practice; in many cases, it’s a legal requirement. Adhering to the regulations for special locations helps ensure that installations meet the UK’s national standards, which is essential for legal compliance and may also impact insurance policies.

5. Quality Assurance and Professional Accountability:

  • Following the guidelines for special locations demonstrates a commitment to quality and professionalism. It assures clients and regulatory bodies that electrical work is performed to the highest standards, with safety as the paramount concern.

6. Informed Decision Making in Design and Installation:

  • For electrical designers and installers, understanding the requirements for special locations aids in making informed decisions about materials, layouts, and protective measures. This ensures that electrical systems are not only safe but also functional and suitable for their intended use.

In summary, the designation of special locations within BS 7671 and the associated guidelines are essential for ensuring the highest standards of electrical safety.

They provide a framework for professionals to address the unique challenges posed by these environments, ultimately leading to safer electrical installations across a wide range of settings.

Who can work in Special Locations?

Working in special locations, as defined in BS 7671, requires a specific set of skills, knowledge, and often, formal qualifications.

These areas, due to their increased risk factors such as moisture, dust, or particular operational conditions, demand a higher level of expertise in electrical safety and installation practices.

Here’s a breakdown of who is typically qualified to work in these special locations:

1. Qualified Electricians:

  • Professionals who have completed formal training and qualifications in electrical work are primarily suited for working in special locations. They understand the complexities and risks associated with these areas and are trained to handle them safely.

2. Electricians with Additional Specialised Training:

  • Within the group of qualified electricians, those who have undergone additional specialised training for specific environments (like bathrooms, swimming pools, or agricultural settings) are better prepared for the unique challenges these areas present.

3. Competent Persons:

  • The term ‘competent person‘ in the context of electrical work refers to someone who has the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to carry out the job safely and effectively. This competency is particularly crucial in special locations due to the increased risks.

4. Certified Professionals in Compliance with BS 7671:

  • Professionals who are certified and well-versed in the requirements of BS 7671, including its stipulations for special locations, are eligible to work in these areas. This ensures adherence to the safety standards and regulations.

5. Members of Accredited Bodies or Schemes:

  • Electricians who are members of recognised bodies or schemes (like those certified by NAPIT, ELECSA, or similar organisations) often have verified credentials and ongoing training, making them suitable for working in special locations.

6. Professionals with Specific Regulatory Knowledge:

  • In some cases, professionals who have in-depth knowledge of specific regulations and standards that apply to special locations (such as those related to swimming pools or spas) are required.

Understanding Part-P Compliance for Work in Special Locations

When it comes to electrical work in special locations within domestic properties, Part-P of the Building Regulations plays a pivotal role.

This regulation specifically addresses the necessity for building control notification for electrical installations in homes, ensuring that any work carried out meets strict safety standards.

Under Part-P, certain types of electrical work, especially in areas with increased risks such as kitchens and bathrooms, require notification to and approval by the local building control department.

However, there’s a streamlined path for certified engineers: self-certification. Professionals who are registered with a competent person scheme have the authority to self-certify their work, bypassing the need for direct building control intervention.

This privilege is granted to electricians who have demonstrated thorough knowledge and adherence to the safety standards prescribed in the Building Regulations.

By being part of such a scheme, these certified engineers not only affirm their expertise but also their commitment to maintaining high safety standards in their electrical work.

This self-certification process not only simplifies the administrative procedure but also underscores the trust and responsibility placed in qualified professionals to uphold safety in electrical installations within domestic environments.


Working in special locations is not a task that should be undertaken lightly. It requires not just a basic understanding of electrical work but an advanced comprehension of the specific challenges and hazards these areas pose.

Professionals who work in these environments must be capable of not only ensuring the functionality of the electrical systems but, more importantly, guaranteeing the safety of all users and compliance with strict regulations.

This often means that only the most qualified, trained, and certified professionals should undertake work in these special locations.