Is carrying out an arc flash study a legal requirement in the UK?

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The simple answer is yes. By virtue of Regulation 4(1) of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 and Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the need to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of risk and to put measures in place to protect those who could be put at risk is mandated.

Regulation 4(1) of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 states ‘All systems shall at all times be of such construction as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, danger’. Regulation 2(1) of the same regulations defines danger as meaning the risk of injury and ‘injury means the death or personal injury from electric shock, electric burn, electrical explosion or arcing, or from fire or explosion initiated by electrical energy, where any such death or injury is associated with the generation, provision, transmission, transformation, rectification, conversion, conduction, distribution, control, storage, measurement or use of electrical energy’.

Electricity is a hazard, and the risks posed are electric shock, burns, fires, arcing and explosion. Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states ‘every employer shall make suitable and sufficient assessment of: (a) the risks to  the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work; and (b) the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking, for the purpose of identifying the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements of and prohibitions imposed upon him by or under the relevant statutory provisions and by Part II of the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997’.

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