Authorisation of Electrical Personnel

News & views from ESUK

Written by: Paul Hopton

Deputy Managing Director & Principal Electrical Consultant

BEng CEng (Hons) MIET

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Electrical Safety UK (ESUK) has helped many companies review and improve their Electrical Safety Management System (ESMS).

One question we are often asked is, what should an ESMS contain? This has prompted me to write a series of articles looking at the different aspects of this vital management system. Here is the fifth article in that series.

The purpose of an Authorisation of Electrical Personnel Procedure is to describe the general procedures and methods that should be adopted to ensure that all Electrical personnel who carry out work on Electrical Distribution Systems or equipment connected to them are, and continue to be, competent to carry out the duties of their role.

All personnel who carry out work on Electrical Distribution Systems or equipment connected to those systems must be authorised to do so in accordance with your Electrical Safety Management System. Their authorisation should be dependent on their qualifications, knowledge and experience typically you may have the following levels of authorisation:

  1. Restricted Authorised Person (Restricted Low Voltage)
  2. Competent Person (Low Voltage)
  3. Authorised Person (AP) (High Voltage)
  4. Senior Authorised Person (SAP) (High Voltage)
  5. Control Engineer
  6. Authorising Engineer

All appointments should be made in writing.

Non-resident contract employees carrying out electrical work should be competent persons and can be categorised A, B or C, which we will look at later.

Third parties that carry out work very infrequently should provide a letter of competency signed by a Senior Manager at their company. Before authorising any electrical work by contractors, the relevant person should ensure that evidence of appropriate training and experience in the work to be undertaken meets the specific advice or standards set by your most Senior Electrical Engineer.

Assessment Procedure

General Requirements

An authorisation certificate should be issued to the person that has been electrically authorised. The certificate should state which site it is applicable to and what level of authorisation has been awarded. It may appropriate to have a number of duties described on the Authorisation certificate, which can be selected as appropriate to the individual’s competency. Using duties on the certificate gives you a couple of advantages:

  • Clarity for the individual on what they are authorised to do.
  • Training and development between Authorisation Levels can give more operational flexibility.

Personnel can be electrically authorised at more than one site. Records of authorisation should be kept by your most Senior Electrical Engineer.

Assessment of competence should be an ongoing process whereby regular reviews take place to identify improvement areas.

Formal audits of all Electrical personnel, recorded in writing, should regularly take place.

Whenever changes to plant or equipment take place a review of such changes should be carried out to identify any further training needs.

Where changes in legislation occur which affect the duties of Electrical personnel these changes should be communicated in a timely manner.

Where amendments to the Electrical Safety Management System occur which affect the duties of Electrical personnel these changes should be communicated in a timely manner.

Records should be kept of all training & briefings given, and to whom they are given.

Assessment should be made against appropriate core competencies. These competencies should be detailed in your procedures, we will look at what they might be later.

Refresher training on The Electricity At Work Regulations 1989 and your Electrical Safety Management System should be given at least every 3 years.

Refresher training on Electrical First Aid and Electrical Emergency Response should be given at a period not exceeding 12 months.

Records of all assessments are required to be kept by your most Senior Electrical Engineer.

Apprentice Training

You should not allow apprentices to work on your Electrical Systems un-supervised during the first three years of their four-year training programme. During the fourth year of their training, work on your Electrical Systems without direct supervision can be allowed. The apprentice’s supervisor must ensure that this work is carried out safely at all times.

The fourth-year apprentice should be assessed to ensure satisfactory completion of each Competent Person core competence (detailed below). The assessment should be carried out by observation of, and/or interview on working practices. It may appropriate for the apprentice’s Supervisor to confirm satisfactory completion. The apprentice should only be permitted to fulfil the role of an Electrical tradesperson once all core competencies have been completed.

Competent Person

To be authorised an individual should have completed a suitable apprentice training programme or have other such qualifications and experience.

Each Competent Person should be assessed at a period not exceeding 36 months against the Competent Person core competencies below. The assessment should consist of, but not be limited to, a combination of the following:

  • Direct observation of working practices with a particular emphasis on safety procedures.
  • Discussions on safe working practices.

An assessment of the individual’s knowledge of the Competent Person core competencies, which may include:

  1. General Safety Requirements consider
  • Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
  • Health and Safety Executive Guidance Documents
  • BS 7671 – Current Edition (IET Wiring Regulations)
  • Safe use of test equipment
  1. Site Specific Safety Procedures
  • Your Electrical Safety Management System
  • Risk assessment methods
  • Safety Documents (Permits to Work)
  1. Technical
  • Your site’s electrical distribution system and voltage levels
  • Your site’s electrical documentation e.g. single line diagrams and technical manuals
  • Boundaries of your site’s HV and LV Distribution Equipment
  • Limits of their Authorisation

Authorised Person

For an Authorised Person it may be appropriate to meet all the requirements for a Competent Person above. In addition, you should consider assessment periodicity and the competencies required for an Authorised Person. As with a Competent Person, an assessment is required, and the content of that assessment should be detailed in your procedures.

Senior Authorised Person and Control Engineer

As with the previous levels of authorisation you should consider assessment periodicity and the competencies required. An assessment is required, and the content of that assessment should be detailed in your procedures.

It may be appropriate for Authorised Persons, Senior Authorised Persons, Control Engineers and Authorising Engineers to have completed a formal training course such as those available at the Faraday Centre. It should be noted that completion of such a formal training course will not give personnel site specific knowledge and as such they should not be authorised immediately following completion of such a course as they will still require on site training and assessment.

For all levels of authorisation, it is important that personnel are familiar with the switchgear they will be expected to operate. The safe operation of different manufacturer’s switchgear can vary significantly. You should not assume that personnel are familiar with all the switchgear on your site, you will need to test the candidate’s knowledge. If you are authorising personnel for multiple sites, again you should ensure that they are familiar with the site, the electrical system at each site, the switchgear they could be required to operate and the documentation and drawings for each system.

Safety Documents

Personnel that are required to receive and/or issue Safety documents (Permits) will need to have their knowledge and understanding of these documents and associated procedures assessed as part of the authorisation assessment.

Qualification for Contract Labour

When considering your requirements for qualifications for contract labour it may be appropriate to use the Electrotechnical Joint Industry Board standards for grading in the electrical contracting industry. For example:

  1. Category A: Technician
  2. Category B: Approved Electrician
  3. Category C: Electrician

Electrical Safety UK can help to produce a document describing your requirements for electrical authorisation or we can advise you on reviewing your existing procedures and processes. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.

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