Portable Electrical Appliances
Portable electrical equipment faults can result in people receiving shocks or burns or they can cause damage to property or life through fire or explosion. Under health and safety legislation, there is no definition of portable electrical equipment but the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) suggests it includes “equipment that is intended to be connected to a generator or a fixed installation by means of a flexible cable and either a plug and socket or a spur box, or similar means”.
This includes equipment that is handheld or hand-operated as well as “extension leads, plugs, sockets and cord sets that supply portable equipment”.
Any voltage above 55V AC can be potentially fatal. Electric shock can cause severe injury including muscular spasms and deep-seated tissue burns, as well as death. Electrical fires and explosions can be caused as a result of:
- Leakage of current due to poor insulation.
- Faulty or poorly maintained protective devices.
- Overloads of electrical circuits causing overheating.
- Ignition of flammable substances in the working environment.
In addition to the health and safety risks, poor maintenance of portable electrical equipment can result in:
- Deterioration in the performance of the equipment, including its safeguards.
- Loss of productivity due to the equipment being unavailable.
- Increased costs due to frequent equipment repair and replacement.
Therefore adequate and appropriate maintenance is critical along with the upkeep of electrical equipment to the proper management of these physical assets.
There are a number of pieces of legislation that require portable electrical equipment to be maintained. In particular, the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 require that electrical systems and equipment “must be maintained, so far as reasonably practicable, to prevent danger”.
The regulations themselves are not prescriptive but rather are 'goal-setting' and to ensure that a premises meets this general requirement, it is normally good practice to follow the appropriate guidance that is available, for example, HSE guidance publication HSG107 Maintaining Portable Electrical Equipment.
This publication suggests that a risk assessment will assist in controlling and managing risks by enabling the setting up of an appropriate maintenance plan. Factors to consider in the risk assessment are:
- The type of equipment that will require maintenance.
- Initial integrity of the equipment and accessibility of dangerous parts.
- Likely levels of use (and foreseeable abuse) the equipment will receive.
- The work environment of the equipment.
- The age of the equipment and operating processes.
- Manufacturer’s guidelines and recommendations.
- Previous history of maintenance.
The HSE guidance suggests that a particular issue with portable equipment to consider is whether or not it is handheld as this will “present a greater degree of risk because, if it does develop a dangerous fault, the person holding it will almost certainly receive an electric shock”.
The HSE also makes reference to other key areas to be considered, including the:
- Cable or flex that supplies the equipment as this is often subject to repeated flexing and potential mechanical damage.
- Bringing unauthorised equipment into the work environment that may not meet its requirements in terms of equipment.
The main requirements when managing portable electrical appliances are:
- Suitable and sufficient risk assessment on electrical equipment.
- Providing suitable information, instruction and training to staff.
- Ensuring that equipment maintained and inspected on a regular basis based on its use and likely deterioration.
- Procedures in place for reporting defective equipment.
Questions to Consider
- Have all staff been trained on the use of portable electrical appliances?
- Is there a PAT testing regime in place?
- Is equipment checked for defects before use?
- Is there a register of equipment that includes electrical equipment?
- Is there Residual Current Devices (RCD's) available for use of high risk electrical equipment?
The above guidance provides an introduction on the main requirements needed to adequately manage this health and safety topic. If you require further guidance, risk assessments or template documentation on this subject please consult your relevant full guidance health and safety website (BIGGA, England Golf, Scottish Golf, Wales Golf). If you do not hold the log in details for this website, for your club, please speak to your golf club management team to identify who the account administrator is and request the details.