Stay safe in the workplace by understanding health and safety regulations, especially when working with electricity.
Health and safety regulations are essential in the workplace, especially when working with electricity.
In the UK, there are a number of commercial electrical codes and regulations in place to establish a safe work environment.
Throughout this article, we will explain everything you need to know about them to ensure you’re aware of current legislation and to keep yourself, your employees and your customers safe in the workplace.
Electrical codes and regulations are vital in commercial settings because a company’s livelihood is at stake. And, oftentimes, these companies are customer-facing. As a commercial electrician, following national electrical codes of practice is essential for the safety of those around you.
It’s also important to remember that completing a commercial electrical job, from simple wiring to brand new installations, as quickly and safely as possible is crucial.
Any time a business is out of action, is time that business is not making money. However, employee and customer safety must come first, and that’s where commercial electrical codes and regulations come into play.
In the UK, approximately 1000 electrical injuries happen at work each year, with 30 of those being fatal. As with most accidents in the workplace, many could be avoided through risk assessments and following necessary precautions.
Some of the most common electrical injuries include electric shocks, electrical burns and thermal burns. While working with high voltages causes most injuries, low voltages can also be dangerous. For example, electric shocks can happen at as low as 50 volts.
Currently, there is a variety of legislation in place that covers commercial electrical health and safety. It is the law for anyone that works within the electrical industry to comply with these regulations.
Most qualified electricians will have studied these throughout training courses or apprenticeships. However, it’s important to keep up to date with all statutory documents that apply to the electrical industry, to confirm you are working in compliance with the law.
The following regulations are crucial for anyone working in electrical installations or the in-service inspection and testing of electrical equipment:
The Health and Safety at Work Act covers occupational health and safety in Great Britain.
It provides regulations on the responsibilities employers have towards their employees and the public, as well as duties employees have to themselves and their peers.
Of course, working with electricity comes with many health and safety hazards and risks. The HASAWA doesn’t dismiss this but instead outlines that any assessed risks should be managed safely and professionally by the risk-maker.
According to the HSE, ‘an employer does not have to take measures to avoid or reduce the risk if they are technically impossible or if the time, trouble or cost of the measures would be grossly disproportionate to the risk.’
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations explain the steps employers must take to manage occupational health and safety in accordance with the Health and Safety at Work Act.
The regulations require employers to:
○ Carry out risk assessments and record findings
○ Implement necessary health and safety measures
○ Appoint employees to implement said health and safety measures
○ Introduce emergency procedures
○ Provide information and training to employees.
The Electricity at Work Regulations were put in place to prevent injuries and fatalities from electrical causes in the workplace.
They cover technical and legal guidance to ensure high standards of electrical safety in the workplace. Some of the factors included within the regulations are:
○ Duties of employers (including self-employed individuals) and employees
○ The safety of electrical systems
○ Strengths and capabilities of equipment
○ Hazardous environments.
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations set out safety requirements for usage of certain equipment and machinery in the workplace.
The regulations place responsibility on businesses who own, operate or have control over work equipment, or whose employees use equipment (owned by the company or not).
According to PUWER, all equipment and machinery used at work must be:
○ Safe for use
○ Maintained in a safe condition
○ Suitable for intended use
○ Operated only by those with proper training
○ Accompanied by health and safety measures
○ Used in accordance with any specific requirements.
As part of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, all employers are responsible for the health and safety of their staff. This is especially important within an electrical setting.
HSE (Health and Safety Executive) is responsible for enforcing health and safety law and ensuring the practice of electrical work is carried out to a safe, quality standard.
The HSE carries out electrical inspections to make sure businesses continue to complete electrical work according to UK legislation and HSE guidelines. These can be random but are often targeted, based on a company’s history of accidents, the type of machinery in use, or in response to complaints.
There are a variety of standards and codes of practice that commercial electricians must adhere to, all of which can be found on the HSE website.
These codes cover various areas in the commercial electrical field, including electrical and power, electrical appliances, electromagnetic compatibility, flammable atmospheres, and machinery.
Be sure to follow the current guidelines for each job you carry out and stay aware of changing codes of practices.
All electricians must undertake an assessed training course or apprenticeship that demonstrates their competency both in theory and in practice.
If you are unsure whether someone is competent enough to carry out an electrical job, asking them to present proof of their qualifications should help to put your mind at ease.
If you believe someone is working unsafely with electricity, ask them to cease working and speak to their foreman. If this is ineffective, contact HSE who can carry out a targeted inspection.
At Fusion, we take electrical safety seriously. We use our experience and systems to follow all commercial electrical codes and regulations and maintain strict standards of quality.
Fusion Electrics is NICEIC approved, CHAS accredited and familiar with current laws and codes of practice. This demonstrates our commitment to health and safety and high-quality work standards.
We hope this article has provided you with plenty of information on the current commercial electrical codes in the UK.
Remember that with any electrical job, safety comes first and foremost. Make sure to equip yourself with the knowledge to undertake jobs with the safety of yourself, and those around you, in mind.
For further information and to keep up to date with new regulations, the following resources are available: