Electrical Risk Increases

News & views from ESUK

In the past nearly all large industrial sites would have at least one chartered or degree qualified electrical engineer on the staff. Smaller sites would have access to an Electrical Technical Authority or equivalent, that they could turn to if they had any concerns or needed technical help. In my current role as a Principal Electrical Consultant we engage with different clients in many industries. It is becoming increasingly clear that many sites no longer carry qualified electrical engineers on their staff. In my opinion this is having a material effect on electrical safety and electrical engineering standards in the UK. When visiting sites, my point of contact is often one of the following:

  • Health and Safety Advisor
  • Facilities Manager
  • Electrician
  • Operations Manager
  • Engineering Manager

Some of the personnel above, may not necessarily have any electrical knowledge.

  1. Legislative compliance, for example: Electricity at Work Regulations; Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations; Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations
  2. Arc Flash and Electric Shock Risk
  3. Technical due diligence with regard to suppliers of electrical goods and services
  4. Electrical Project Work including design & installation standards
  5. Electrical Maintenance and Asset Integrity
  6. Electrical Competency Management and Assessment
  7. Safety Instrumented Systems and Machinery Safety

A common theme that runs through these concerns is that quite often personnel without an understanding of electrical hazards are being asked to manage electrical risk. Even more worrying is that “you don’t know what you don’t know”. In other words, businesses may be carrying significant electrical risk without recognising that the risk is present. The risk is often realised and as an Electrical Safety Consultant I could be asked to help when:

  • There has been an accident and personnel have been injured or killed
  • The HSE has carried out an inspection and the client has been given an improvement notice or a prosecution is pending
  • There has been an equipment failure that has resulted in a significant cost to the business
  • An Electrical Project has been carried out to a poor standard or plant reliability is low

I do recognise that businesses are under intense pressure to reduce cost. The decision to reduce cost can be combined with significant time pressure. The result is that the management of the change to reduce headcount, does not properly consider re-assignment of electrical safety activities and responsibilities. This results in Electrical Safety Management documentation that relies and references job roles and responsibilities of persons that are no longer with the business. In other words you have gaps appearing in your safety system! At Electrical Safety UK we are helping businesses in this situation by providing them with an Electrical Technical Authority Support Contract that allows them to call-off technical support as and when it is needed at a very reasonable cost. We even provide businesses with a free electrical health check that can help them determine if they have any gaps in their existing Electrical Safety Management System. If you are concerned that you may have gaps in your systems or that you are carrying risk that you may, or may not be aware of, give us a call on 0800 652 1124 and we would be happy to help you. Paul Hopton Principal Electrical Consultant

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