Electricity procedure – Issue 4 – May 2018

Purpose

This procedure sets the consistent way in which Hampshire County Council (HCC) manages the risks to its employees, service users, contractors, volunteers, members of the public or any other persons from work with, on or near electricity.  This procedure does not cover construction safety, which is dealt with in the Corporate Health & Safety Procedure on Construction.

It sets a council-wide method for identifying, avoiding, assessing and controlling risks from electrical danger arising from work with, on or near electricity as defined by the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (EAW).  This procedure should ensure compliance with EAW and its guidance, HSR25.

Scope

This procedure is intended to ensure HCC’s compliance with the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, known as the EAW, along with the requirements of its associated guidance (HSR85).

This procedure applies to any exposure to electrical danger from work with, on or near electrical systems.  In particular, it deals with ensuring that electrical systems are properly designed, constructed and installed to appropriate standards, used safely within those design parameters and then maintained, inspected and tested in accordance with HCC or industry standards.  Day-to-day work with normal electrical appliances and equipment will be subject to risk assessments conducted in accordance with the Corporate Health & Safety Procedure for Risk Assessment.

This procedure focusses on the risk of injury, meaning:

  • electric shock
  • electric burn
  • electrical explosion or arcing
  • injury from fire or explosion initiated by electrical energy associated with the generation, provision, transmission, transformation, rectification, conversion, conduction, distribution, control, storage, measurement or use of electrical energy (see Terminology).

The procedure covers:

  • Electrical systems
  • Electrical equipment
  • Portable appliance testing (PAT testing)
  • Overhead power lines and buried services

This procedure replaces all previous corporate policies and procedures relating to electrical safety.

Terminiology

Danger – this is defined as the risk of injury
Injury – has the meaning given to it in the Scope
Electrical equipment – this includes anything used, intended to be used or installed for use, to generate, provide, transmit, transform, rectify, convert, conduct, distribute, control, store, measure or use electrical energy
System – this 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
Conductor – this means a conductor of electrical energy within electrical equipment or an electrical system.

Procedure

This procedure applies to all permanent and temporary workplaces used by Council employees, contractors, volunteers, service users, members of the public or any other persons having access to those premises.  The responsibility to comply with this procedure is placed on any and all staff responsible for managing those premises, or electrical systems and equipment used within them, including; facilities managers; line managers, Property Services staff; and any contractors used to carry out this work on behalf of the Council.

Ensuring compliance with this procedure should also be considered by Council personnel and contractors carrying out design, installation, maintenance and construction work in premises subject to the Corporate Health & Safety Procedure for CDM (e.g. ensuring that designs and subsequent installations will achieve compliance with this procedure).

Electrical systems

Property Services will:

  • Ensure that new electrical systems in HCC properties are designed, installed and constructed (including insulation, earthing, fusing and the provision of a means of isolation) to the standards required by legislation and relevant national standards in force at the time (currently BS7671: Requirements for Electrical Installations IET Wiring Regulations 17th Edition and related guidance)
  • Ensure that existing electrical systems in HCC properties are maintained and appropriately tested by competent electricians
  • Provide competent advice and information to managers of HCC properties

Managers must ensure that no unauthorised work is undertaken on electrical systems within their control.  Modifications should only be undertaken by competent electricians instructed by Property Services.  Any concerns about the safety of electrical systems in HCC properties must be reported to Property Services as soon as possible.

Electrical equipment

Managers should identify all hazards in the workplace arising from the use of electrical equipment and electrical systems, or work which is so near to such equipment and systems that it poses a danger (e.g. work near live equipment, near overhead lines, or buried services).  These hazards should then be subject to a risk assessment using the Corporate Health & Safety Procedure for Risk Assessment recorded on the relevant risk assessment form.  In accordance with that Procedure, managers should seek to eliminate any electrical risks identified, or reduce them appropriately by reducing the voltage to a safe level, or by providing physical or software controls.  The risk assessments should be reviewed regularly, or when there is any change to the premises, facilities, the work being carried out, etc.

Electrical equipment and control measures must be suitable for the working environment and maintained (including inspection and testing as appropriate) in efficient working order and good repair.  The frequency of inspection and testing will depend on the use of the equipment and the risk of wear or damage.  An appropriate maintenance system should include:

  • Pre-use checks for loose cables or signs of fire damage
  • Visual inspections by staff with more electrical knowledge – e.g. checking inside plugs for internal damage
  • Where necessary, portable appliance testing

Portable appliance testing (PAT testing)

NOTE – Not every electrical appliance needs a PAT test and those that do may not need to be tested every year.

PAT testing must be carried out by a competent person.  This does not need to be a fully qualified electrician, but must still be someone who understands the nature of the testing regime; what to look for; what the implications of a test fail are; and how to respond to such a test fail.

See also the HSE publication: Maintaining portable electrical equipment.

Overhead lines and buried services

Contact with overhead power lines (OHL) and buried services can be very dangerous.  Most OHL are uninsulated and must be assumed to be live at all times.  Buried services are also potentially very dangerous if struck or damaged by mechanical or hand tools.  You also do not need to come into contact with an OHL to receive a shock, as the electricity may arc between you and the line.  Specific guidance exists on both work near OHL and buried services. If relevant to a site, both issues must be covered in a construction phase plan in accordance with the Corporate Health & Safety Procedure for CDM.

For non-construction work, OHL and buried services must be covered in existing risk assessments, method statements and operating procedures.  This can be recorded in the systems put into place for the use of particular pieces of equipment (e.g. for tractor/excavator mounted hedge trimmers) or for particular sites (e.g. a site which has OHLs passing across it or running near to it) or for particular operations (e.g. all roadside hedge trimming operations).  Compliance with these procedures must be checked on site inspections.

Guides

Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 and guidance HSR25

HSE webpages on electrical safety at work

Electricity at Work: Safe Working Practice HSG85

Safety in Electrical Testing at Work

Maintaining portable electrical equipment

Guidance on the management of electrical safety and safe isolation procedures from low voltage installations

Guidance on the IET Wiring Regulations

Avoiding danger from overhead power lines

Guidance for agricultural machinery or equipment when working near overhead electricity power lines

HSE webpages on overhead power lines

Avoiding danger from underground services

HSE webpages on excavations and underground services

Full procedure

Download the full corporate electricity procedure.