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Health and Safety


Electrical Safety

The main dangers from the use of electricity are shock, burns, fires and explosion. The Electricity at Work Regulations control the use of electricity in all workplaces by placing duties on employers, employees and the self-employed to use the electrical installation and equipment safely.

The following are some examples of common electrical hazards to look out for:

  • damaged equipment, e.g. cuts, cuts to cable and flexes, broken plug tops, etc.
  • non-standard repairs including taped joints, taped plugs or equipment
  • overheating of flexes or appliance - tell tail signs are burn marks or staining
  • cables not secured by the cord grip within the plug (see diagram)

The electrical installation of the premises, i.e. the power and lighting circuitry should be installed to BS 7671:1992 Requirements for electrical installations (replacing the IEE Wiring Regulations 16th Edition) and any electrical work must be carried out by a competent person. It is also recommended that the installation is thoroughly inspected by a competent person at least every five years.

A record of all electrical appliances should be made and regularly checked to ensure they are safe to use. The check can be visual to identify any physical damage or burn marks and then at appropriate intervals an in-depth inspection and test can be carried out by a competent person. For your guidance see the following table

See illustration

Equipment/Environment User Checks Formal visual inspection Combined inspection and testing
Battery-operated (less than 20 volts) No No No
Extra low voltage: (less than 50 volts AC) e.g. telephone equipment, low voltage desk lights No No No
Information technology; e.g. desktop computers, VDU screens No Yes, 2 - 4 years No if double insulated - otherwise up to 5 years
Photocopiers, fax machines: Not hand-held.
Rarely moved
No Yes, 2 - 4 years No if double insulated - otherwise up to 5 years
Double insulated equipment:
Not hand-held. Moved occasionally, e.g. fans, table lamps, slide projectors
No Yes, 2 - 4 years No
Double insulated equipment: Hand-held e.g. some floor cleaners Yes Yes, 6 months - 1 year No
Earthed equipment (Class 1): e.g. electric kettles, some floor cleaners Yes Yes, 6 months - 1 year Yes, 1 - 2 years

Cables (leads) and plugs connected to the above.

Extension leads (mains voltage)

Yes Yes, 6 months - 4 years depending on the type of equipment it is connected to Yes, 1 - 5 years depending on the type of equipment it is connected to


Some Safety Points

All electrical appliances must be fit for their purpose having regard to the working environment they are to be used in especially if that environment is or could be wet, corrosive, flammable or subject to impact damage.

Ensure appliances are properly fuse rated.

In order to prevent overlooking and extensive use of adaptors, provide an adequate number of ring mains sockets. Multi-gang sockets can be used but only for low wattage appliances.

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