If you own commercial premises, anyone you employ (or allow within those premises) can come into contact a range of electrical equipment. From plant machinery to the lamps on their desks, you have a duty to make sure those premises are safe. In fact, you have a legal obligation to do so.
We tend to take electricity for granted at work, but electricity has the potential to be a major hazard. Not only can direct contact with electricity kill, electricity can also be the trigger for fires and explosions and other disastrous outcomes.
Regulations were drawn up in 1989 that were designed to impose duties on those who use electricity – either directly or indirectly – as part of a commercial enterprise. These are known as Electricity at Work Regulations. If you own any form of commercial enterprise, you are obliged to make sure you are following them. If you are found to be negligent – wilfully or not – in regards to these regulations, you are likely to face severe penalties, including possible custody. It is your responsibility to ensure that all of your electrical components are safe. We provide a full and detailed Electrical Installation Condition Report which offers peace of mind.
Some important definitions
There can be some confusion over what qualifies as electrical equipment, but there’s really no reason why there should be. Electrical equipment includes anything that is used, or has the potential to be used in any way where electrical energy is involved.
This is as encompassing a definition as there can be. It includes absolutely everything, from power lines conducting extremely high voltages to a single, battery-powered torch.
If electricity is involved somewhere, then you have a legal obligation to make sure that the device or piece of equipment is safe to use.
Electricity is also used as a necessary part of running any commercial premises. If, for example you are a small retailer, you must make sure that customers who enter your store are kept safe from any potential electrical hazards that may arise from, say, a vending machine, lighting or a refrigeration unit.
How to ensure you are in compliance
Note: visual checks are not enough. An unqualified eye may spot a crack in a plug socket or a loose wire, but this won’t reveal anything aside from very obvious problems. You need to get your equipment checked by a qualified electrician, who will then provide you with a test report and certificate. The certificate will confirm each device’s safety, or will inform you that your equipment needs to be made safe.
Regulation 29 of The Electricity at Work Regulations states that “It shall be a defence for any person to prove he took all reasonable steps and exercised all due diligence to avoid the commission of that offence,”. In other words, if someone is harmed in any way by electrical equipment for which you have a legal obligation to make safe, your only reasonable defence would be a report from a qualified electrician, within an accepted time-frame, that certified the safety of the item of electrical equipment.
Take your obligations seriously
If you own a commercial enterprise where electrical equipment is used, then adherence to The Electricity at Work Regulations is not optional. Should the worst happen, and you are found to be non-compliant, the consequences could be devastating for both you and your business. Speak to MD Bespoke Solutions about your options today.