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Electrical safety



Maintaining portable electrical appliances in low-risk environments (489KB) pub 04/12

This leaflet explains the simple and sensible precautions that need to be taken to prevent danger from portable or movable electrical equipment in low-risk environments, such as offices, shops, some parts of hotels and residential homes. This leaflet also provides examples of this sort of equipment and can help you to decide what you need to do to in order to maintain portable appliances in your workplace.

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Electrical safety and you: A brief guide (405KB) pub 04/12

This leaflet provides some basic measures to help you control the risks from the use of electricity at work. It also explains how many electrical accidents can be avoided by careful planning and straightforward precautions.

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Electricity safety steps information sheet (21KB)

Electricity is used in all workplaces on a daily basis. However, when it is uncontrolled or misused, it can severely burn, injure or kill individuals or even cause fires with devastating results. Simple but essential steps can prevent most of the accidents caused by electricity. This information sheet is a useful reference and can be used as a electrical safety checklist.

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Maintaining portable and transportable electrical equipment (1.67MB) pub 08/04

This book highlights the hazards associated with the use of portable and transportable electrical equipment and gives guidance on its appropriate use, maintenance, repair and replacement.

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Electricity at Work (Memorandum of Guidance on the Electricity at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1991) (3.56MB) 01/02

This book gives practical guidance on how to comply with the duties under the Electricity at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1991. It also contains the text of the Regulations themselves.

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FAQ - Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)


Q: I've been told that, by law, I must have my portable electrical appliances tested every year. Is this correct?
A: The Electricity at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1991require that any electrical equipment that has the potential to cause injury is maintained in a safe condition. However, the Regulations do not specify what needs to be done, by whom, or how frequently (ie they don't make inspection or testing of electrical appliances a legal requirement, nor do they make it a legal requirement to undertake this annually).

Q: How frequently do I need to test my electrical appliances?
A: The frequency of inspection and testing depends upon the type of equipment and the environment it is used in. For example, a power tool used on a construction site should be examined more frequently than a lamp in a hotel room. For guidance on suggested frequencies of inspection and testing, see: Maintaining Portable and Transportable Electrical Equipment

Q: I have been told that I have to get an electrician to do portable appliance testing work. Is this true?

A: The person doing testing work needs to be competent to do it. In many low-risk environments, a sensible (competent) member of staff can undertake visual inspections if they have enough knowledge and training. However, when undertaking combined inspection and testing, a greater level of knowledge and experience is needed, and the person will need:

  • the right equipment to do the tests
  • the ability to use this test equipment properly
  • the ability to properly understand the test results

Q: Do I need to keep records of testing and should I label any appliances tested?
A: There is no legal requirement to label equipment that has been inspected or tested, nor is there a requirement to keep records of these activities. However, a record and / or labelling can be a useful management tool for monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of the maintenance scheme - and to demonstrate that a scheme exists.

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HSE electrical safety microsite

A lot of useful information can be found on the HSE electrical safety microsite:

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