The Health & Safety Executive (“HSE”) has reported that around 1,000 accidents occur at work each year from electricity and approximately 25 people die from their injuries each year.
Electricity has always been known to be dangerous but because it is such an integral part of our lives it is often forgotten how dangerous it actually is.
Injuries occur when electrical equipment is not properly maintained or when people do not take adequate care in excavating their buried cables or working near overhead lines. Electrical faults also start fires, again another forgotten issue.
Guidance is provided by the HSE on safe handling but employers have a duty under the Heath & Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure a safe system of work for their employees and safety for visitors to their premises. This includes ensuring safety from electrical risks.
All business premises need to have safety checks carried out on a regular basis and this includes electrical installations. All electrical equipment should have regular visual checks and smaller appliances need to have annual Portable Appliance Checks (PAT tests).
When contractors are carrying out excavations, they need to ensure that they are aware of the location of underground services, not only electricity but also gas, telephone, water and drainage etc. These should be readily found by looking at maps of the area but it does not necessarily follow that the maps are accurate.
If an accident does occur then it must be reported to the HSE who will carry out an investigation. If the HSE find that you were responsible for that installation then regrettably they can take steps to prosecute or serve enforcement notices.
At Silver Shemmings we are able to advise contractors especially electrical contractors on their responsibilities in respect of Health & Safety and to provide training in respect of legal requirements and risk assessments.