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Electrical Safety in Leisure and Retail Facilities

Calbarrie’s Tim Beardsmore explains how we are working within the leisure and retail sectors to ensure that electrical systems remain safe and compliant.

Leisure and retail facilities have the same statutory responsibilities as any other non-domestic premises when it comes to electrical safety, and employers have a duty of care and legal obligation to keep the public and employees safe.

Overloading of electrical points and faulty electrical equipment present a common fire hazard so regular maintenance is crucial. Control measures can minimise the risk of fire from electrical faults and employers should have a formal programme of electrical testing and inspection in place conducted by a qualified and competent person. An electrical contractor can advise on a suitable testing programme and control measures may include Residual Current Devices (RCDs) and thermal imaging surveys (in addition to normal electrical condition reporting).

The required frequency of testing varies by sector. The Health and Safety Executive stipulates that in the retail sector ‘All display installations should be visually inspected at regular intervals to determine whether deterioration and/or damage has occurred. The periods between such inspections will depend on the use/abuse of the systems. It is recommended that the premises’ electrical installation should be subject to an annual routine check and a formal inspection on a 5-yearly basis by a suitably competent person to ensure it remains in a safe condition. Any defects noted during inspections or tests should be rectified before the system is put back into use.’

Within the leisure sector, however, more frequent testing is required. Electrical installations in ‘dry’ areas such as gyms should be tested every three years and poolside or ‘wet’ areas – swimming pools, saunas and changing rooms for example – every 12 months. Poolside testing poses other challenges and specific regulations require the engineer to check that installed fixtures and fittings comply with BS EN 60529 and 60598-2-18 and cabling with BS EN 50525-2-21 and that they are situated in the correct zone as outlined in BS 7671 section 702.

Calbarrie has been delivering electrical testing services to not-for-profit leisure trust Freedom Leisure since April 2017. To find out more about the full testing programme read our Freedom Leisure case study.

Careful planning and communication are key to minimising disruption to services. For businesses with multiple sites clear lines of communication are vital to the successful delivery of the testing programme. Dynamic scheduling relies on accurate forecasting of the number of items to be tested which can be achieved through site surveys. Furthermore, flexibility of testing enables last-minute programme changes and the ability to test at times that suit the client’s business needs.

Powering down of electrical systems can also disrupt operations and some clients opt for  ‘out of hours’ to ensure that they remain operational with no risk of injury. Fortunately, most individual stores within large shopping centres or retail parks have their own electrical systems which can be isolated locally with no need to power down the entire site.

Early diagnosis and rectification of electrical faults can ensure that operations continue to run smoothly and safely. The streamlining of processes maximises efficiencies and improves performance whilst providing the confidence that electrical systems remain safe and compliant.

Read the full article in the August issue of Tomorrow’s FM.


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