What are the Legal Requirements?
The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASW 1974) is an Act set by Parliament that places a duty of care on Employers & Employees to ensure the safety of all persons using the work premises. This Act is law, and to contravene this law is a criminal offence.
As HASW 1974 is an “enabling act” it does not enter into detail of how you will achieve compliance but looks to other Regulations to achieve it.
What Regulations apply?
Firstly, “The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999” which places a duty on Every employer to make a sufficient assessment of the risks to health and safety of employees while at work and to all other persons while carrying out their work.
Of the assessed risks for any electrical equipment or installation, it is quite likely that the number one hazard would be that of an electric shock with the risk arising from poorly maintained installations that have deteriorated with age, clearly being a fire hazard.
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (EAWR 1989) As it’s title suggests, is specifically an electrical regulation set and requires all necessary precautions to be taken against the risk of Electric Shock. Regulation 4(2) states “As may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable such danger”
Regulation 4 then details how this will be achieved with maintenance and regular inspection.
Also, as Portable and fixed equipment relies on the integrity of the electrical installation, the requirements of The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98) requires that the installation is inspected and tested at suitable intervals.
How frequently should the installation be Inspected & Tested?
The Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEE) give guidance for the “recommended” frequencies for the inspection & test of most electrical installations, with 3 & 5 years recommended for most commercial & industrial type premises.