Electrical compliance – know your responsibilities
Tim Beardsmore explains the essential facts on electrical compliance to Tomorrow’s Health & Safety.
Employers can expose themselves to significant risk if they don’t act on their electrical safety obligations, and laws are in place to help them ensure that their properties are safe, healthy places for people to work.
All electrical installations deteriorate, and the Health & Safety at Work Act etc 1974 and The Electricity at Work Regulations (EAWR) 1989 place a number of legal duties on employers to ensure “all reasonable and practicable steps to prevent danger from electrical systems” are taken to avoid injuries or deaths that may arise from electrical faults in the workplace.
Without the correct certification not only is the employer putting their employees at risk but they may experience severe disruption to business activities and their insurer may not cover costs in the event of an insurance claim resulting from an electrical fault. Faulty electrics are a very common cause of workplace fires and the impact that an industrial fire can have on a business is far reaching – with operations, profits and the company’s reputation all being adversely affected.
The law requires regular inspection and testing of workplace electrical equipment and for systems to be maintained. However testing is only part of the electrical safety compliance requirement and in a recent survey we found that over half of the organisations we contacted had conducted electrical safety testing of their installation but not continued to carry out the essential remedial work. This is a significant risk as the employer could be culpable of fault and negligence and subject to a hefty fine and /or imprisonment. An employer can manage risk by using a specialist contractor who can offer a total compliance service and time of testing remedial repairs.
The law states that periodic inspection and testing shall be carried out by a “skilled person or persons, competent in such work” – usually an electrical engineer who is ‘time-served’ with extensive inspection and testing experience gained within the commercial and industrial sectors, and trained and qualified to the minimum standards. An electrical contractor should be accredited with a recognised trade body such as the NICEIC or Electrical Contractors’ Association and comply with the IET Codes of Practice and current Wiring Regulations. There are also regulatory changes coming into effect from 1 January 2019 with the introduction of BS 7671:2018, (18th Edition (2018)) and further guidance is available on the NICEIC website.