Managing electrical safety in the workplace

Employers must carry out a risk assessment to identify potential workplace electrical hazards and to access the likelihood of injuries from the exposure to these hazards. This will enable appropriate control measures to be implemented.

General precautions

Always ensure that:

  • An accessible and clearly identified switch near each fixed machine to cut off power in emergency is provided
  • For portable equipment, socket-outlets are close by so that equipment can be easily disconnected in an emergency
  • Electrical equipment used in flammable/explosive atmospheres should be designed to stop it from causing ignition
  • Double adaptors and 'piggy back plugs' are not used
  • The wattage of all bulbs in light fixtures and lamps are checked to make sure they are the correct wattage. Replace bulbs that have a higher wattage than recommended to prevent overheating that could lead to a fire
  • Lightbulbs and other equipment which could easily be damaged in use are protected. There is a risk of electric shock if they are broken
  • Suspect or faulty equipment is taken out of use, labelled 'DO NOT USE' and kept secure until examined by a competent person
  • Where possible, tools and power socket-outlets should be switched off before plugging in or unplugging
  • Equipment is switched off and/or unplugged before cleaning or making adjustments
  • There is provision for all equipment to be stored carefully, securely and safely
  • Workers using electrical equipment are trained and supervised
  • Electrical installations are safe eg, by providing enough power outlets. Worn or frayed cords are replaced
  • Leads, wiring and cables are in good condition and in the correct position
  • PVC insulation tape should not be used to repair damaged cords. Have the cords replaced
  • Machinery is unplugged before cleaning
  • Enough socket outlets are providing overloading socket outlets by using adaptors can cause fires
  • All connections to power points are made using the correct plugs
  • Isolating transformers and residual current devices (RCD) are used
  • The electricity supply is isolated from earth and has a voltage between conductors not exceeding 230 volts
  • No part of a crane, digger, excavator, drill rig or other mechanical plant, structure or scaffold is brought closer than 4 metres to an overhead line without the written consent of the powerline owner
  • Equipment suitable for the working environment is used, eg, cordless tools for wet and damp conditions
  • Electric risks can sometimes be eliminated by using air, hydraulic or hand-powered tools
  • The main board is locked and the switches are safe and identified

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