The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 legislation places legal implications on employers to ensure the safety of electrical devices in the workplace.
It contains a comprehensive list of legal requirements designed to prevent the risk of death or personal injury from the use of electricity at all places of work, regardless of business size or number of employees.
The regulations require all systems to be maintained regularly in order to prevent danger and ensure it is safe for use by all employees. Furthermore, HSE guidance states that regular inspection and testing is an essential part of any maintenance programme.
Regulation six of PUWER also requires that work equipment, which may be subject to deterioration liable to result in a dangerous situation, requires inspection at suitable intervals to prevent risk of death or personal injury.
The current version of BS7671, Requirements for Electrical Installations, is accepted as best practise for the design and maintenance of electrical installations in the workplace. Other documentation concerning the use of electricity in mines, quarries, petro-chemical installation and places of entertainment also exists.
The frequency of examination is dependent upon the type of business and the risks presented, but guidance states that typically every three or five years is appropriate. Some businesses may require an annual inspection for license purposes. This testing should be carried out by trained, authorised personnel and in many cases, third-party electrical contractors will carry out this testing.
System means an electrical system in which all the electrical equipment is, or may be, electrically connected to a common source of electrical energy and includes such source and such equipment.
Danger means risk of injury which in turn results in death or personal injury from any part of the electrical system.
'Portable equipment' means any electrical item that can be moved, which means that this regulation covers items from computer systems and printers to kettles and televisions.
This is often referred to as portable appliance testing (PAT).
There are three parts to the testing:
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The above guidelines are relevant with UK legislation and intended to steer building owners, operators, occupiers and maintenance providers with greater levels of knowledge of the obligations placed upon them.