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What Are The Electricity At Work Regulations 1989?

If you are an employer in a commercial business then you have a duty to comply with the Electricity At Work Regulations 1989. Whether you own or are responsible for a hospital, cinema, school, hotel, factory or office building, for example, you need to be aware of the Electricity At Work Regulations and to understand your responsibilities.

The regulations impose duties on employers in order to ensure they manage the electrical systems and products on their site. This is to prevent death or injury to others and applies to the design, construction, operation and maintenance of those electrical systems. But the regulations also cover the activities of the self-employed and employees, and therefore, they all must comply with the regulations.

Electrical equipment covered by the regulations includes anything used, intended to be used or installed for use, relating to electrical energy. That is whether it is to generate, provide, transmit, transform, rectify, convert, distribute, control, store, measure or use it.

What are my responsibilities?

The main section of the regulations, and what practically applies to most people in work, is found in part ll. These are the general duties placed on individuals and include:

General safety of electrical systems: all electrical systems, so far as is reasonably practicable, shall be of safe construction and maintained in that state to prevent danger.

Strength and capability of electrical equipment: no electrical equipment shall be used where its strength or capability may be exceeded to give rise to danger.

Adverse or hazardous environments: you must protect electrical equipment from mechanical danger, the effects of natural weather, hazards, temperatures or pressure, the effects of wet, dusty or corrosive conditions and any flammable or explosive substances.

Insulation, protection and placing of conductors: you must take precautions to cover or protect conductors.

Earthing, integrity and connections: requirements for each.

Isolation and cutting of supply: requirements of isolation to prevent danger.

Precautions for work on equipment made dead: requirements to prevent isolated equipment becoming live again while work is carried out on it.

Work on or near live conductors: requirements for preventing people working on or being near live conductors.

Access, space and light: requirements for ensuring there is enough space, access and light in which to work safely.

Competent persons: you must have sufficient knowledge and experience to work on electrical systems.

All the above requirements can be fulfilled through your general work and operations and the documented internal policies, procedures and maintenance checks you put in place. However, most organisations also carry out two forms of electrical testing on a routine basis that ensure your electrical systems are being properly monitored.

These are fixed installations testing – i.e. wiring, sockets, panels, distribution boards, lights and fixed plant – and portable appliance testing (PAT), which applies to anything on site that carries electrical current and is portable, although a loose definition is essentially anything with a plug. It is important that all testing is carried out by a competent person and that all tests are recorded adequately, any findings are actioned immediately and repeat testing is scheduled on a suitable frequency.

How we can help you

If you have any doubts over your responsibilities towards the Electricity At Work Regulations then we have engineers who can discuss your buildings and operations with you and work out how the regulations apply to you. We can work out a suitable testing schedule and design a system of work that ensures you comply with the regulations and your duties within it. Please take a look at our range of electrical services and contact us today.


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