Electrical Safety Legislation in the Workplace: Everything You Need to Know in Practice
No matter your niche, electrical safety should be a priority in the workplace. When it comes to enforcing it, most employers conduct independent risk assessments in line with relevant government legislation. Whether you’re an industry leader or you’re just starting out in a production facility, it’s always a good idea to learn about electrical safety, the laws, and how to comply.
Electrical Safety Laws: Why are They Important?
Injuries caused by electrical appliances can stem from a wide variety of cases. With both low and high voltages posing a risk, the dangers come even closer when electrical equipment is faulty, incorrectly installed, or improperly used.
Electrical appliances are hazardous to health because they use live currents. This presents three unique hazards:
– Electric Shock
Electric shock happens when any part of the human body encounters an electrical current. This could occur by touching both a live wire and an electrical ground or by accidentally coming into contact with two conductors in a circuit. If the current is large enough, electric shock can cause death.
– Electrical Burns
Electrical burns are the result of current flowing through bodily tissues. These burns can be superficial or might be severe enough to affect deeper layers, including muscles and bones. However, the risk of electrical burns can be reduced by sourcing only high-quality electrical power and industrial cables from reputable suppliers.
In some cases, and if the current is strong enough, a discharge of electricity called a power arc can be formed. With an arc fault usually comes an electrical explosion, and two by-products in this case can be arc flash and arc blast. The arc flash is light and heat, while the arc blast is the subsequent wave of pressure. Both can cause injuries and severe damage.
Which Electrical Safety Laws are Enforced in The UK?
– The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
Under the Electricity at Work Regulations, responsibilities are placed on employers, their staff, and self-employed workers to limit the dangers of electricity. Duties include:
- Installing electrical systems in a way that prevents and reduces the danger
- Maintaining and inspecting systems as necessary, including installation checks once every five years
- Making sure that repairs are undertaken properly and safely
– Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
This official legislation on electrical safety management requires employees to implement robust measures to control risks to employee health and safety.
Amongst other duties, these must include completing a written health and safety policy, giving access to health and safety advice, and conducting risk assessments to protect anyone who could be affected by company activities.
Concluding Thoughts: How can Businesses Comply?
Employers should proactively take the necessary electrical safety precautions, including risk assessments. These should be undertaken as regularly as possible, especially in companies with a larger workforce or a greater number of complex electrical machines.
Equipment should only be installed, maintained, and repaired by those specifically trained to do so. Any repairs should be timely and recorded accurately to ensure future safety inspections and maintenance to machines is current and informed.