Electrical Safety In The Workplace
Electrical safety in the workplace is extremely important for many reasons. As one of the most common sources of workplace injuries, electrical hazards should be regularly assessed and eliminated. Poor maintenance of electrical equipment can lead to electrocution, electric shocks, life changing injuries and in extreme circumstances, death. In this article we'll look at some of the most common electrical hazards found in the workplace.
As a business owner there are legislations in place to ensure health & safety in the workplace remains a focal point. For example;
Electricity At Work Regulation 1989
Health & Safety At Work Act Of 1974
The Management Of Health & Safety At Work Regulation Of 1999
The Provision Use Of Work Equipment Regulation Of 1998
Failure to comply with the above legislations can result in a monetary fine or imprisonment. Furthermore, employers are expected to report certain workplace injuries and incidents to the health and safety executive. Lastly, All UK insurers require you to comply with the law in order to be covered correctly. Failure to comply with any of the above could result in a claim being refused.
Common Electrical hazards In The Workplace
The continuous use of faulty or damaged electrical equipment such as, power tools and extension leads can lead to electric shocks. All electrical equipment should be regularly PAT tested to ensure their safe to be used.
Frayed/Exposed electrical cables
Electrical cords on your equipment act as a jacket for the internal live wires. When this jacket is frayed it can leave the live wires exposed. Without the additional layer of protection, the risk of electrical fires or shocks is increased.
Electricity near water
Electricity and water do not mix. Exposure to water can lead to an electrocution which can result in life changing injuries or death. If any of your electrical equipment gets wet it should be unplugged and inspected by a qualified electrician before its used again.
Electrical devices must be grounded or earthed to avoid the risk of electrocution. This must be checked periodically by a qualified individual. The most common test that analysis this is a PAT Test.
With the advancement of technology, our offices and homes are flooded with equipment that requires electricity. This often leads to extension cables being used to accommodate for the many appliances.
Ideally, extension leads used for multiple appliances should be fused, multi-way bar leads with with surge protection. In addition, do not overload the extension leads maximum electrical capacity. This can lead to electrical fires. Lastly, basic block adapters are more likely to cause an electrical fire when multiple heavy duty appliances are plugged in at the same time.
Weird smells from your equipment
If your electrical appliances or electrical sockets smell like hot plastic or have yellow scorch marks, this is a sign of an overloaded circuit. This can quickly lead to sparks or smoke. To avoid further damage all appliances should be unplugged until they've been deemed safe by a qualified electrician.
A Portable Appliance Test (PAT) is an electrical safety check that is carried out on portable electrical equipment. The test checks the condition of the appliance, its lead and plug, and looks for any damage that could make it unsafe. Furthermore, PAT testing should be carried out at least every 12 months. However, some items of electrical equipment may need to be tested more often, depending on how often they are used. For instance, power tools used in construction or coffee machines used in a cafe's should be tested more frequently that fan in a hotel.
What Does PAT Testing Involve?
1: Insulation test. This tests the insulation of the appliance to make sure that it is not damaged and that it will not allow electricity to leak through.
2: Continuity test. This test checks that the electrical circuit is complete and that there are no breaks in it.
3: Polarity test. This checks that the appliance is correctly wired and that the live and neutral wires are not reversed.
4: Earth continuity test. This test checks that the appliance has a good earth connection.
5: Functional check. This involves testing the appliance to make sure that it works correctly.
An EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) is an electrical safety check that is carried out on a property's wiring. The test looks for any damage or faults in the wiring and checks that it is safe to use. In addition, an EICR should be carried out every 5 years, or sooner if there are any concerns about the condition of the wiring. Much alike a PAT Test, an EICR test includes a visual inspection, Continuity test, Polarity test & Earth Continuity.
After the tests have been carried out, the property's wiring will be given a pass or fail rating. Lastly, If the wiring fails any of the tests, it will need to be repaired or replaced before it can be used again.
Common Electrical hazards In The Workplace
Being aware of common electrical hazards in the workplace is critical for many reasons. Failure to stay on top of these hazards could lead to life changing incidents. Both PAT Testing and EICR are a vital part of electrical safety in the workplace. Not only do they ensure your employees are safe but they also ensure your company is complying with government regulations. Employers should make sure all employees are mindful of electrical hazards and encourage employees to report all hazards to the management team.
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