Electrical Safety in the Workplace: Top 5 Tips
All modern workplaces rely on electricity in one way or another. And while electrical equipment, whether it’s a kettle, a desktop computer or heavy machinery, is crucial to everyday life, it also has the potential to be hazardous.
Using faulty or poorly maintained electrical equipment can result in serious shock and burn injuries. In worst-case scenarios, this faulty equipment can spread heat to nearby flammable surfaces such as rugs and curtains, which can start a fire.
As employees are now returning to offices after the easing of lockdown restrictions, we believe that reinforcing electrical safety in the workplace is a priority. A long stint of home working may have resulted in employees forgetting certain essential practices of collective workplace safety. Furthermore, some of your equipment may not have been used in a while so it is important to make sure it is in a good and safe condition.
We have put together a list of our top five tips to prevent electrical hazards in the workplace that may help you in thinking about what you need to do or check.
Prevent all potential contact with live electrical current
Wires can become dangerous if they are not maintained for long periods of time. Staying well clear of electrical hazards is the best way to ensure safety, so if you believe there is a wire in your office that is transmitting a live electrical current, you should not approach it.
Unqualified individuals should never approach a live electrical current that is greater than 50 Volts. Even a current as low as 50 V can cause a shock which can cause muscle spasms or prevent someone’s heart from beating. If you are ever in doubt, you should contact a trained professional to perform an electrical safety check.
Ensure safe use of electrical appliances and equipment
We understand that taking shortcuts can save time and it’s easy to think that you’re never in real danger while using simple, mundane appliances. However, taking the extra effort to use electrical equipment properly can go a long way to ensure that you and those around you remain safe in the workplace.
If a plug is visibly damaged, it should be removed and clearly labelled to make sure other employees don’t plug it in and continue using it.
All employees should avoid:
- Unplugging electrical appliances by pulling on the cord rather than the plug head
- Overstretching electrical cords
- Using staples to fasten cords into place
- Hanging electrical equipment from cords
- Creating a chain of multiple extension cords
Stay up to date with your company’s electrical safety guidelines
Every company will have a unique set of electrical health and safety regulations that apply to its specific workplace based on the exact setup there is. Employees should regularly keep up with electrical safety rules along with fire safety, first aid and other mandatory workplace practices.
If an office expands or begins to use new electrical pieces of equipment, a thorough risk assessment should be performed to make sure that safety standards are upheld in accordance with your company guidelines.
Perform regular maintenance on electrical equipment
Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) and Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICR) are widely considered to be the most effective preventative maintenance measures for compliance with health and safety. According to the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, in order to prevent danger, ‘all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, such danger’.
Landlords and employers have a legal duty to perform an EICR test at least once every five years. This test is a thorough examination of a building’s electrical wiring systems. This inspection will identify any potential electrical hazards and resolve them if they are urgent or put plans in place for maintenance if they become problematic at a later date.
There are no set rules or guidelines on how often PAT tests should be carried out. As employers have a legal obligation to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees, the recommended frequency of PAT tests is at least once every two years.
Employees should be able to tell if an electrical appliance is obviously faulty or damaged. But sometimes, it won’t always be possible to tell that an appliance is hazardous just by looking at it, and ultimately it isn’t their responsibility. This is why these thorough tests that are performed by trained professionals are important, particularly for electrical appliances that are frequently used in day to day activities.
Make sure you power down
Finally, electrical appliances should be switched off while they are not being used, especially overnight when no one is present in the building. Overusing appliances is one of the main causes of faults and defects. If an appliance is in constant use, it will not be able to cool down and its circuit components may become damaged. This can lead to the risk of fire or explosions.
Getting into good practices with electrical appliances is the best way to create a safe working environment. This means powering down electrical machines and devices while they’re not being used and at the end of the day. If everyone is on the same page, you can increase the lifespan of your appliances and reduce the risk of injury.
Apply these tips to your workplace today
If you haven’t been following any of these tips, then now is the time to start. Millions of employees across the UK are excited to get back into the office after having to work from home for the best part of a year. While this excitement is great to see, we should also take care of how we make our return in terms of making sure the workplace is safe for everyone.
We understand that there are plenty of new measures to take into account. Hygiene, cleanliness and sanitation are now the main priority in the world of health and safety. While we should allocate resources to preventing the spread of disease, we also need to remember the basics of health and safety.
Ensure health and safety compliance
Electricity is a common and dangerous workplace hazard and should always be taken seriously. Here at Tempus, we can work with you to ensure your workplace is safe for your team members to return to after the long working from home period.
Whether you need Portable Appliance Testing or an examination of your wiring systems, our team can provide you with flexible and robust electrical services. We can come in during your idle hours so that we won’t interfere with your day to day activities.
Our goal is to take on responsibility for the maintenance of your building so you can focus on your business. Whether you’d like to ensure health and safety compliance or you need emergency maintenance, our Helpdesk is available 24/7/365.
To speak to a member of our team or find out more about our other services, feel free to contact us today.