Every year, around 25 people die of their injuries from electrical accidents at work and 1,000 electrical accidents are reported to Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
You may therefore be interested to know that the HSE has just released the third edition of HSR25 guidance that will help duty holders meet the requirements of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. It is available to download here.
It sets out the Regulations and gives technical and legal guidance on them. The purpose of this guidance is to highlight the nature of the precautions in general terms to help duty holders achieve high standards of electrical safety in compliance with the duties imposed.
The Regulations apply to all electrical systems and equipment (as defined) whenever manufactured, purchased, installed or taken into use even if its manufacture or installation pre-dates the Regulations.
The purpose of the Regulations is to prevent death or personal injury to any person from electrical causes in connection with work activities from:
- electric shock
- electric burn
- fires of electrical origin
- electric arcing
- explosions initiated or caused by electricity
The human body responds in several ways to electrical current flowing through it. The sensation of shock is only one such effect and this can be extremely painful. When a shock is received, the electric current may take multiple paths through the body and its intensity at any one point is difficult or impossible to predict. The passage of electric current may cause muscular contractions, respiratory failure, fibrillation of the heart, cardiac arrest or injury from internal burns. Any of these can be fatal.
Who is Responsible
The Regulations place duties on:
- employers, employees and the self-employed – to comply with the regulations as far as matters are under their control
- employees – to co-operate with their employer
The Regulations require that all electrical systems should, so far as reasonably practicable, be of safe construction and maintained in that state. In addition, they place a duty to ensure that electrical equipment is suitable for where and how it is to be used, and is adequately protected.