Legislation and Regulation

In order to maintain a safe working environment for employees, visitors, contractors, suppliers etc… every employer/dutyholder has a legal duty/responsibility in maintaining such environments.

The relevant legislation and regulations that apply in maintaining electrical safety in the workplace are:

  • The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
  • 17th Edition Wiring Regulations BS 7671: 2008
  • The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974
  • Provision and use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)
  • Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992
  • Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (Statutory Legislation LAW)

Within the Memorandum of Guidance on the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 it refers to the word systems. Regulation 2 (sub sections 15 to 20) states that a system applies to conductors and electrical equipment in it and includes all of the electrical equipment connected together and the various electrical energy sources in a system.

A system also includes equipment, although not energised, may be electrically connected to a common source of electrical energy.

Regulation 4 (sub section 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.”

This implies that any low voltage electrical installation and current using equipment even up to the National Super Grid (400KV) that forms part of a system must be maintained in safe working order throughout its working life. Periodic Inspection and Testing on electrical installations should be an integral part of any PPM allowing any deterioration within the electrical installation to be identified and corrective actions to be targeted, thus preventing potential electric shock, burns, fire or a serious incidents.

17th Edition Wiring Regulations BS 7671: 2008 (Non statutory Regulations)

Regulation 114.1 states “The Regulations are non-statutory. They may, however, be used in a court of law in evidence to claim compliance with a statutory requirement.”

These regulations are intended to apply to design, erection and verification of electrical installations, also additions and alterations to existing installations.

Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 (Legislation)

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 places a duty of care and responsibility on each employer, employee and sub-contractor to ensure the safety of all persons using the workplace/premises.

In 1992 penalties of up o £20,000 were introduced and offences heard on indictment in the Crown Court attract unlimited financial penalties and up to two years imprisonment for breaches under the general duties of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The Provision and use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)

A key point within these regulations states “every employer shall ensure that the work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.”

The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Within these regulations there are two key points every employer needs to maintain; and the regulation states:

“Every employer shall make suitable and sufficient assessment of:

a) the risks to the health and safety of his/her employees to which they are exposed whilst at work, and

b) the risks to ensure the health and safety of persons not in his/her employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him/her or his/her undertaking.”

NB: Failure to comply with electrical legislation and regulations may lead to a maximum fine penalty of £5,000 and/or up to six months imprisonment.