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How do I ensure electrical health and safety in the workplace?

  • Blog
  • 27 October 2016

Electrical safety is a crucial part of running a business and an important part of UK law for health and safety at work. It covers things like making sure all electrical equipment has been installed correctly and is safe to use regularly.

Whether your business is based in a small office or factory, not ensuring safety in your workplace can lead to serious hazards, which can harm your staff and damage your property. We’ve provided the key methods to ensure your equipment is safe to use.

How do I ensure electrical health and safety in the workplace?

Ensuring electrical safety

Risk assessments

Carrying out a risk assessment on all electrical equipment in your workplace is a good way to first understand the hazards they can cause, and the potential risk of them happening.

The assessment can look at the type of equipment in your business, the way it’s used, and the environment it’s used in. It can cover things like what type of hazards could develop, who the hazards could harm, and the precautions you have taken to prevent these hazards from occurring. Hazards can include:

  • Electric shocks and burns from staff coming into contact with live parts
  • Injury from staff being exposed to faulty equipment or installations
  • Fires and explosions caused by unsuitable equipment igniting flammable elements in the workplace
  • Cables that are not connected with the correct cable connectors
  • Wires trailing across floors
  • Electricals that are not marked with a clear label to switch off power in an emergency
  • Plug socket outlets overloaded with adapters
  • Fuses that are not fitted correctly

Training and reporting

Providing clear instruction or training to staff can help to avoid hazards in the workplace. Regular training or recaps should be carried out and a thorough training programme should be included as part of new staff inductions.

Doing this can also ensure electrical items are only used for their intended purpose, as well as making sure they are properly maintained.

Encouraging staff to report any potential hazards they come across at work, such as damage or defects, can also help ensure safety. To help with this, it’s worth creating a health and safety chart, on which staff can record details of potential hazards if they cannot raise issues with their line manager, allowing you to investigate them in good time.

Checks and maintenance

Regularly checking equipment to make sure it’s safe to use is a major component of health and safety. This includes more frequent checks on electricals that are more likely to become damaged, such as portable tools or items that are often moved. By looking for signs of damage or faults to items, the level of risk they pose can be controlled.

It isn’t usually necessary to conduct visual checks on small battery-powered items or equipment that works from a mains powered adaptor, such as a laptop. However, it is important to check the adaptor itself for wear and tear.

If potential hazards are discovered during these checks – a plug or connector is damaged, internal wires are visible, or there are signs of overheating, like burn marks or stains – it should be removed from use in order to repair or replace it.

Installing and repairing electrical items

When it comes to installing and repairing your equipment, make sure it’s done by someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to carry out the work safely.

Even small tasks like rewiring a plug or changing a fuse can be dangerous if not done correctly. So it’s best to make sure all electrical jobs are carried out by a qualified professional.

How the FSB can help you with health and safety

Electrical safety is just one element of health and safety for businesses. FSB offers members a range of health and safety advice that is provided by experts in the field. This includes:

  • Health and safety telephone advice from industry experts on our Legal Advice Line
  • Policy advice for health and safety written by experts
  • Online training modules and free health and safety documents, such as for accident reporting and risk assessments

For more information, please read our FSB Health and Safety Advice page.

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