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Appendix 4 - General Advice on electrical safety - University of Kent

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<str<strong>on</strong>g>Appendix</str<strong>on</strong>g> 4<br />

UNIVERSITY OF KENT<br />

GENERAL ADVICE ON ELECTRICAL SAFETY<br />

Introducti<strong>on</strong><br />

The use <strong>of</strong> electricity leads to fewer accidents than, for example, those due to slips and<br />

trips or lifting loads at work. However, the chances <strong>of</strong> serious injury from <strong>electrical</strong><br />

accidents are greater then from most other types <strong>of</strong> accidents. It is thus necessary to<br />

minimise the risk by good design, manufacture, installati<strong>on</strong> and use <strong>of</strong> portable<br />

equipment, such as typewriters, computers, photocopiers, extensi<strong>on</strong> leads, hand tools,<br />

cleaning equipment, etc.<br />

Accidents<br />

The majority <strong>of</strong> <strong>electrical</strong> accidents are caused by <strong>electrical</strong> shock but many others result<br />

in burns from arcing or fire. Shock from a voltage as low as 50 volts a.c. or 120 d.c. is<br />

potentially lethal. About a quarter <strong>of</strong> all <strong>electrical</strong> accidents reported to the Health and<br />

Safety Executive involve portable appliances.<br />

Accidents may be caused by faulty flexible cables, extensi<strong>on</strong> leads, plugs and sockets as<br />

well as defective <strong>electrical</strong> equipment. A programme or regular inspecti<strong>on</strong> and/or testing<br />

c<strong>on</strong>siderably reduces the risk.<br />

Purchase and Installati<strong>on</strong><br />

Purchasers must ensure that the equipment to be obtained is suitable <strong>electrical</strong>ly for the<br />

use intended; the Maintenance Manager may be c<strong>on</strong>sulted in the first instance for advice.<br />

So far as reas<strong>on</strong>able practicable, equipment c<strong>on</strong>forming to the appropriate British<br />

Standard or CE Standard should be purchased. When obtaining foreign equipment, the<br />

purchaser should ensure that the equipment is at least as safe as equipment c<strong>on</strong>structed to<br />

the equivalent British Standard.<br />

The acquisiti<strong>on</strong> <strong>of</strong> new equipment must be reported to the Departmental Electrical<br />

Inspector, to allow the Inspector to send the relevant details to the Maintenance Manager.<br />

This will ensure that the item is added to the Maintenance Centre’s list <strong>of</strong> departmental<br />

equipment requiring regular inspecti<strong>on</strong> and/or testing.<br />

Note: In some Departments, by arrangement with the Maintenance Manager, inspecting<br />

and testing <strong>of</strong> certain equipment is carried out within the Department because <strong>of</strong><br />

the local <strong>electrical</strong> expertise available.<br />

Safe Use<br />

1. Equipment should be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructi<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

2. Care should be taken to prevent overloading <strong>of</strong> circuits. If in doubt, the advice <strong>of</strong><br />

the Maintenance Manager should be sought.<br />

3. The use <strong>of</strong> wall-mounted adaptors should be avoided because <strong>of</strong> the damage to the<br />

wall sockets caused by the weight <strong>of</strong> a “tree” <strong>of</strong> adaptor(s) and plugs. If an<br />

adaptor is required, a fused and switched strip adaptor should be obtained to be<br />

used in the short-term. A request for extra socket(s) should be made to the<br />

appropriate departmental pers<strong>on</strong>.


4. Care should be taken to prevent trailing cables from becoming a hazard; they<br />

should be tucked away or lifted above walk-ways but, if a cable lying across a walkway<br />

is unavoidable, the trip hazard should be reduced by the use <strong>of</strong> a cable cover.<br />

5. Care should be taken to avoid obstructing any air grill or fan outlet <strong>on</strong> equipment.<br />

6. Users <strong>of</strong> hand-held equipment should take particular care to avoid damaging the<br />

cable and to avoid putting stress <strong>on</strong> the c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong>s by overstretching the cable.<br />

7. Apart from equipment designed to be left <strong>on</strong> permanently, all equipment should<br />

be switched <strong>of</strong>f at the appliance itself and at the wall socket at the end <strong>of</strong> the<br />

working day.<br />

Inspecti<strong>on</strong>s and tests<br />

1. A regular programme <strong>of</strong> formal visual inspecti<strong>on</strong>s and, where necessary, testing has<br />

been set up; this shared between the Department Electrical Inspector(s) and the<br />

Maintenance staff. Each Inspector carries out inspecti<strong>on</strong>s at appropriate intervals<br />

using a check list provided by the Maintenance Manager; the inspecti<strong>on</strong> interval<br />

depends up<strong>on</strong> the equipment and is not necessarily <strong>on</strong>e year.<br />

Each piece <strong>of</strong> equipment logged with the Maintenance Centre is identified by a<br />

number <strong>of</strong> barcode label and, after testing, will be fitted with a label bearing the<br />

legend<br />

“Tested for <strong>electrical</strong> <strong>safety</strong><br />

Re-test due<br />

(date)<br />

(date)”<br />

Out <strong>of</strong> date equipment must not be used until it has been re-tested.<br />

2. In between the formal visual inspecti<strong>on</strong>s users should regularly examine their<br />

equipment for signs <strong>of</strong> damage or deteriorati<strong>on</strong>, both <strong>on</strong> the appliance itself and <strong>on</strong><br />

the cable and plug. Checks should be made for faults such as badly-damaged<br />

casing <strong>of</strong> the appliance or plug, the cable sheath worn or torn and loose<br />

c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong>s into the plug or appliance.<br />

3. The frequency <strong>of</strong> the visual check by the user depends <strong>on</strong> the type <strong>of</strong> equipment<br />

and how it is used but, as a rough guide, equipment rarely moved or unplugged<br />

such as computers and typewriters should be checked m<strong>on</strong>thly and hand-held<br />

tools such as drills and chain-saws should be checked each time they are used.<br />

Faults<br />

1. Repairs must <strong>on</strong>ly be undertaken by a competent pers<strong>on</strong> e.g. an electrician or a<br />

trained technician.<br />

2. Users finding faulty or broken equipment should take it out <strong>of</strong> use immediately,<br />

label it “Defective – do not use” and initiate repairs according to the local rules.<br />

Safety Office<br />

Jan 1992<br />

Amended Feb 1999

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