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Electrical Legal Requirements in the Workplace: Getting Started

A number of regulations cover the use of electrical equipment in the workplace, and responsiblity for safety is placed upon both the employee and employer. As the business owner, you are expected first to ensure that risk assessments are carried out to ascertain any unreasonable risk to any workers or visitors to your offices.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) recommends that further to risk assessments, all electrical equipment should be tested regularly for safety and efficient function. Past visual checks, more detailed tests should be carried out by an approved electrical contractor. In choosing a contractor, you will need to ensure they are an NICEIC approved electrical testing surveyor.

It is good practice to put in place a series of logs for your equipment - showing any relevant risk assessments, decisions on how often tests and checks are to be carried out, how often these are carried out and what the results are. An electrical testing company will be able to advise you on how often your equipment may need checking, and should provide all documentation and log books during testing and for the interim period.

You can find a great deal of helpful information on these pages of the HSE site including a downloadable PDF with guidance on how to carry out your electrical safety risk assessment.
Documentation including legal guidance can be found on this page although you may find it more efficient to rely on the information provided by an electrical contractor, who will be familiar with exactly what your workplace will need to do within the law.

In the event of an electrical accident at your workplace you may need to inform the HSE - if the incident results in a worker sustaining a serious injury, being away from work for over 3 days, or in hospital for more than 24 hours. Equally, if the incident leads to explosion or the involvement of overhead powerlines, the HSE will need to be informed. You can find procedures for this here, and it would be advisable to have this information somewhere easily accessible in your workplace Health & Safety documentation.

To summarise, upon starting out with your Electrical safety management, you will need to read through the risk assessment documentation linked above, carry out a risk assessment and then call in an independant electrical contractor if you feel that any of your workplace equipment needs testing more thorough than visual inspections.

About the Author: Electrical Testing Surveyors Ltd are a well established and fully qualified electrical installation and portable appliance testing company, able to provide testing to companies and organisations all over the UK. You can reach them at enquiries@electrical-testing.co.uk and find more information on the website at www.electrical-testing.co.uk.

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