HSE & Electrical Safety

Under UK law the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act) in Great Britain or the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 in Northern Ireland employers are responsible for ensuring the safety and health of their employees and also the public, if they are at risk from those work activities. This includes electrical safety.

Electrical Inspectors aim to reduce the number of electrical accidents by enforcing the law, providing advice on good working practices, and developing guidance in response to technical changes in equipment and working methods.

Electrical Inspectors work in cooperation with other responsible bodies including The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) link to external website, Local Authority Standards departments and The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem link to external website).

Electricity supply

Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC)   link to external website enforces the continuity and quality aspects of the Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations 2002 link to external website. For further information contact the DECC Inspectorate at DECC. HSE enforces the safety aspects of these regulations. There are particular reporting requirements placed on distributors under these regulations, these are separate to reporting requirements under RIDDOR.

The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) link to external website look after the interests of electricity consumers. This is principally a financial role, monitoring electricity generation, distribution and supply. For further information contact Ofgem.

The address of your nearest Health and Safety Executive office can be found on the HSE’s website. For some workplaces (such as offices, shops, hotels, many warehouses) the Local Authority enforces electrical safety regulations, generally its environmental services department. HSE and the Local Authorities work together to provide consistent advice and enforcement by means of a liaison committee (HELA).
Annual electrical accident statistics in the workplace can be found in the HSE Annual Report and in the HSE Health and Safety Statistics, also published each year.

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PAT Testing

What is portable appliance testing?

Portable appliance testing (PAT) is the term used to describe the examination of electrical appliances and equipment to ensure they are safe to use. Most electrical safety defects can be found by visual examination but some types of defect can only be found by testing. However, it is essential to understand that visual examination is an essential part of the process because some types of electrical safety defect can’t be detected by testing alone.

A relatively brief user check (based upon simple training and perhaps assisted by the use of a brief checklist) can be a very useful part of any electrical maintenance regime. However, more formal visual inspection and testing by a competent person may also be required at appropriate intervals, depending upon the type of equipment and the environment in which it is used

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