An electrical installation is the lifeblood of the business, and directors managers are often faced with difficult decisions to ensure uninterrupted power when dealing with budget cuts. Cost cutting often leads to reduced maintenance, and team strength. This will lead to taking an on-demand approach to repairs. The principal reason for electrical system failure is lack of maintenance. All electrical equipment requires regular maintenance to optimise operations, avoid breakdowns, and ensure safety.
Regular inspection, testing and verification of an electrical system is essential in confirming both safety and operation. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the management of Health and Safety at work regulations 1999, and the Electricity at Work Act all place a duty of care on employers to ensure the safety of their employees, and the need for good maintenance to be carried out to achieve this.
Top tips for maintaining your electrical installation
- Records should be kept of all inspections and remedial actions carried out as a result of these tests. Particular attention should be paid to emergency and life safety systems (fire detection and alarms for example) which should be the subject of more onerous testing requirements.
- Only allow suitably trained, and competent persons to carry out work on electrical systems.
- Wiring diagram/as installed drawings of the whole installation should be made, and kept safe ready for use when required.
- All circuits must be identified, and as a general rule of thumb in the workface, socket outlets, light switches, and other forms of electrical switching/isolation devices should be marked with the circuit reference. Distribution Board charts should be positioned in each board showing the services provided by it.
- Users can be instrumental in ensuring that the integrity of an electrical installation remains, by ensuring that anything connected to it is in a serviceable condition, and not likely to cause any damage to it when added.
- Visual inspection of cables/flexes in everyday use can prevent electrical faults/fires particularly in areas in which they are subject to constant repositioning/movement and a lot of personnel traffic (e.g. busy offices, warehouses, call centres etc.).
- Broken plugs/sockets, cut/ frayed cables, all should be replaced/repaired immediately, and should not be used until that work is completed.
- Frequent blowing of fuses or the tripping of protective devices may indicate that there is a continual fault or problem with your electrical systems. Further investigation should be carried out by suitably trained and qualified personnel.
- Don’t use ordinary electrical cables and appliances outdoors if they are not approved for outdoor use. Indoor electrical systems and equipment is not designed to withstand the elements and it could be potentially dangerous to use them outside.
- Maintenance regimes in factories, workshops, storage buildings, and anywhere that electrical installations/systems are installed, will be affected by poor electrical servicing/testing, and awareness. It may not be a problem today, but it might well be tomorrow.