Take a look at this video from the Ontario Electrical Safety Association, their regulations aernt exactly the same as the UK but they are similar and its all useful advice. As the video shows electricity can be very Dangerous. Touching a live wire is very painful and can be fatal. This is why we take electrical safety very seriously. There are a number of simple steps that you can take when working with or near electricity that should keep you safe and minimise the risk of injury. This article provides a summary of these precautions and information about common accidents:
What are the dangers?
- Electrical shocks and burns
- Electricity can disrupt the bodies natural electrical signals such as you heart beat signal
- Injury from exposure to arcing
- Explosions due to electricity ingesting flammable liquids, gases or dust
How to control the risk
- You should do a risk assessment (this doesn’t need to be a really long document) it should include who could be harmed, how they could be harmed and the steps that you have taken to prevent this from happening.
- You should also wear protective equipment when dealing with electricity
What precautions should I take when working with electricity?
- Consider what electrical equipment you will be using and is it right for the purpose you are using it for?
- Avoid water and other liquids.
- Don’t touch any frayed wiring or cords. if your equipment has frayed wires or cords do not use it.
- If you are fixing things at home always turn of the power at the mains.
- Always use insulted tools.
- Look out for this sign it means that machines or equipment may be energised which may present a danger.
- If you are going to check or repair energised equipment ensure that it is de-energised.
- Use a plastic ladder when doing electrical work.
- Make sure the fuse you are using has the correct current rating see the table below for ratings guidance.
- The final one may sound a bit simple but wearing insulated gloves & boots can prevent a lot of accidents.
Maintenance of electrical equipment
The UK government health and safety executive says that:
Users of electrical equipment, including portable appliances, should carry out visual checks. if you notice any of the below then you should remove the equipment from use immediately and check it, repair it or replace it:
- The plug or connector is damaged
- The cable has been repaired with tape, is not secure, or internal wires are visible etc
- Burn marks or stains are present (suggesting overheating)
Any repair work should be done by a competent specialist i.e. and electrician or a licensed repairer of goods. if you want more information here is a link to a HSE document on electrical safety for portable goods otherwise known as PAT testing.
What qualifications does some one need to carry out electrical safety work?
For some one to be a competent electrician they should have completed an electrical apprenticeship and enough work experience (2+years). For specialist electrical work such as working with high voltage power cables or working on industrial equipment other qualifications will be necessary. For more information see this page about all Uk electrical qualifications.
Common mistakes with electrical goods:
- Extensions cords are one of the biggest causes of electricity based injuries in the UK, if you notice an extension cord is getting warm / hot this may be a sign of failure at it could be at risk of causing a fire.
- Never “octopus” extension cords – this means do not have several extension cords linked together.
- Always pull the plug not the cord, pulling the cord will damage the connections.
- Never break of the third prong, if it is broken have the plug replaced.
- Don’t use extension cords as permanent wiring.
- Keep extension cords away from heat, water and oils.
- Don’t let cars drive over extension cords as this will damage the cord.
If you’re not sure it safe:
If you’re not sure something in your house is safe then call a licensed electrician. If you live in London then give us a call on 0800 002 95 47 we’re happy to provide free quotations and we are available 24/7 for emergency call outs. When it comes to dealing with electricity its better to be safe than sorry!