Last week we posted the first installment in our TradeSparky Safety series, where we took a look at electrical fire safety. This week, we’re turning our attention to electrical safety in the workplace; we’ve rounded up a list of information for how employers can keep their offices safe. According to southwestelectrical.co.uk, over 46,000 workers have been injured due to electrical hazards in the workplace over the past ten years, so it is imperative that rules and protocols are followed because disasters certainly can happen. Keeping your staff and yourself safe can be down to simple common sense, so we thought it’d be a good idea to remind you of various everyday things you can do to stay safe.
1. Be aware of the risks
An employer needs to be aware of the potential hazards that may arise when working with electricals and follow protocols while keeping a standard of safety maintained. When working with electricity, you run the risk of:
- Suffering an electric shock and burns from live parts
- Injury from faulty electricals or installations through exposure to arcing or fire
- Unsuitable electrical parts or static electricity setting flammable dust and vapours alight causing an explosion
Undoubtedly, then, in order to avoid these potential disasters, making sure your workplace is safe for all is vital.
2. Assess your workplace for danger and take steps to avoid it
As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure an assessment has been made of your workplace’s electricals and potential hazards. Such an assessment should cover: who may be harmed by your workplace’s electricals, how you have established the level of risk and what precautions have been taken to control the apparent risks. www.hse.gov.uk states that additionally you must make sure that any electrical installation and equipment is “suitable for its intended use and the conditions in which it is operated” and that it is “only used for its intended purpose”.
As with electrical fire safety, you can stay safe by keeping your electricals out of the way of water (unsuitable equipment can become live and make its surroundings live when in contact with water), using robust, protected cables, sockets, plugs and fittings and always use the correctly rated fuses and circuit breakers. www.hse.gov.uk also points out that you should ensure everyone in the workplace “looks for electrical wires, cables or equipment near where they are going to work and check for signs warning of dangers from electricity, or any other hazard. Checks should be made around the job, and remember that electrical cables may be within walls, floors and ceilings”. Staying vigilant and attentive to your office’s electricals is very important.
3. Frequently have your electricals checked
You should make frequent checks on items likely to become damaged and have fixed wiring installations inspected regularly. If you believe or know an electrical item is faulty, immediately stop using it and label as “Do Not Use”. Beyond this, www.doncaster.gov.uk states that “routine maintenance is essential to any workplace if it is to operate safely and efficiently”. In fact, according to the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 it is a legal requirement that workplace electrical equipment is maintained to ensure safety at all times, as Regulations 4(2) of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 state, “as may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far is reasonably practicable, such danger”. Testing, maintenance and repairs should be carried out by a qualified, competent electrician or firm of electrical contractors.
4. Other ways to stay safe
As we recommended in our last post, a residual current device (RCD) will switch electricity off automatically if there’s a fault which could be potentially life-saving, and therefore are well worth purchasing and fitting to a fusebox. As far as your employees are concerned, make sure all employees are aware of how to safely use electrical equipment and anyone working with electricity is fully qualified to do so. Ensure cables are out of the way so no one may trip or fall over them and make sure your employees are aware of how to spot a hazard and have it dealt with. Other common-sense tips include: do not remove plugs by pulling on the cord, make sure to turn electrical items off when they are not being used, unplug any electricals before you clean them, do not plug adaptors into other adaptors and remove any electrical devices from use that are emitting a strange smell.
We hope this run-down of information helps to keep you safe in the workplace. TradeSparky will be continuing to give information on safety topics (in addition to blog posts about design, technology and more), so like our Facebook page so you’re always notified of a new post, www.Facebook.com/Tradesparky. RCD’s (Residual Current Devices) are available from TradeSparky at https://www.tradesparky.com/circuit-protection/cir....