Employers should have a comprehensive electrical safety policy in place. Safety training should also be completed in order to ensure that employees are aware of the potential risks they may encounter in their day-to-day roles.
Regular visits by official electrical inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are a must. They will check the safety of on-site equipment and provide advice on good working practice.
A key requirement for employers is to make sure possible electrical hazards in the workplace are frequently assessed and all equipment is safe and fit for purpose. They are required to keep a register documenting these inspections. When issues are identified, suitable repair work should be promptly completed.
Inspection and testing should be carried out by a ‘skilled person or persons, competent in such work’. Normally this 'competent person' implies a qualified and experienced electrical engineer, accredited by a recognised trade body and familiar with applicable codes of practice.
Key potential risks include:
- Isolators and fuse box cases: these should be kept closed and locked whenever possible
- Cables, sockets, plugs and power cords: these must be properly insulated and have sufficient capacity for their use
- Fuses and circuit-breakers: these must be properly matched to the circuit in which they are installed
- Machines and appliances: these must have an off switch that is easy to find and immediately accessible in case of emergency
- Overhead power lines: these should only ever be approached by qualified professionals. Overhead lines are extremely dangerous without the proper precautions
Ask employees to examine electrical equipment before use, looking for damage to plugs or adapters, loose cables and connectors, bare wiring, and similar issues. This is particularly vital for portable equipment which carries a higher risk of incurring damage.
Any issues should be immediately reported, with faulty equipment removed for repair or replacement. Repair work must only be carried out by trained individuals.
Employers failing to meet their legal obligations puts both employees and the business at risk. Faulty electrical equipment is a major cause of fire and if your insurer decides proper electrical safety precautions were not taken, they may refuse to pay out.