Electricity is essential for powering our workplaces, from the monitors and laptops we use in offices to manufacturing equipment on the factory floor.
However, it can be dangerous, even fatal, if not handled properly.
In this article, we’ll look at the importance of electrical safety in the workplace, the legislation you must adhere to, and how to ensure a safe and compliant working environment.
The key regulations you need to comply with
The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974)
These regulations state that every employer must ensure the health, safety, and well-being of all employees while they are in the workplace.
These regulations also apply to staff working from home.
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
Sometimes referred to as the ‘Electrical Safety at Work Act,’ these regulations set out the general requirements for electrical safety in the workplace.
They cover things like the safe use of electrical equipment, the isolation of electrical equipment, and the maintenance of electrical systems.
The Electricity at Work Regulations also identify the people responsible for electrical safety in the workplace, known as duty holders.
- Principal duty holders: These are the people who are responsible for electrical safety in the workplace. This could be the employer, the owner of the premises, or the person in control of the work
- Secondary duty holders: These are the people who have specific responsibilities for electrical safety, such as electricians, maintenance workers, and supervisors
The responsibilities of electrical duty holders include:
- Identifying and assessing the risks of electrical hazards in the workplace.
- Ensuring that electrical equipment is safe to use and that it is properly maintained
- Providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees as needed
- Training employees on the safe use of electrical equipment
- Implementing safe working practices for electrical work
- Keeping records of electrical safety activities
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
These regulations apply to all work equipment, including electrical equipment. They require employers to ensure that work equipment is safe to use and that it is properly maintained.
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
These regulations require employers to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees exposed to risks from electrical hazards.
Electrical safety in the workplace: how to stay safe
As an employer and duty holder, you are ultimately responsible for electrical safety in the workplace. This means if an employee or visitor is injured on-site or hurt in an electrical fire, you could be held liable.
It’s vital to ensure electrical safety by complying with the relevant regulations and implementing best practices. Here are some of our expert tips for keeping your premises safe and compliant:
- Train staff how to stay safe, identify potential hazards, and who to report them to. Regular electrical safety toolbox talks can help keep staff aware of specific issues
- Visually check electrical equipment for damage (for example, frayed cables) before using
- Keep the use of extension leads to a minimum, don’t overload them, and regularly check for damage
- Turn off and unplug electrical equipment when not in use
- Register electrical equipment so you know if it needs to be recalled
- Ensure all equipment is well-maintained and carry out regular PAT testing to identify any faulty appliances. We recommend conducting a risk assessment to determine how often to do PAT testing
By following this guidance, you can create a safe and healthy workplace for everyone.