Identifying electrical hazards
Nearly all spaces in the University house electrical equipment, which is used for a variety of purposes and by a wide range of staff and students.
All electrical equipment used on the premises should be CE marked, unless given special exception, and have regular portable appliance testing (PAT) or fixed appliance testing.
PAT checks whether equipment is safe to use and includes a visual inspection. When you use electrical equipment, you should visually check wires and plugs for damage regularly, including exposed wires. Faulty equipment must be replaced immediately. For replacement fuses, it is important the correct fuse is used.
All equipment should be shipped with operating manuals that detail the associated hazards, including electrical, and precautionary measures to mitigate the hazards, including wiring diagrams.
Electrical and electronics work must only be carried out by competent persons.
Fires, shocks, burns and explosions are potential hazards of electrical equipment. Look out for:
Wear and tear
Poor insulation and worn cables, especially around plugs and connectors, are potential sites of shocks and over heating that can lead to fires.
All leads, plugs and connectors should be checked regularly for wear and repaired immediately. Remember, shocks can be lethal.
Electrical components can generate significant heat while in standard use. Hot parts will be labelled with warning stickers.
Warning labels will highlight higher voltages. Special care should be taken when using this equipment.
Electricity and water
Mixing electronics and water makes shocks more likely. Ensure that electrical equipment is separated from water if contact is possible.
Do not handle electrical equipment with wet hands. Spills must be cleared up immediately.
Care should be taken around open electronics in developmental work because these are sources of shocks.
Only trained personnel should use test equipment.
Electrical short circuits and sparks are ignition sources for any flammable material.
Non-sparking and flame-proof electrical equipment should be used around flammable gases and where cryogen use might cause liquid air build-up.
Remember, gases generated by recharging batteries can be flammable and should be recharged in a ventilated area.
Electromagnetic Fields (EMF)
EMF is produced by all electrical and electronic equipment when in use.
Fields may be static or time-varying, electric, magnetic or electromagnetic (radio wave) and have frequencies up to 300 GHz.
Electrocution is a common form of accident.
Following electrical safety guidance helps you to prevent danger or injury from:
- electric shock
- electrical burns
- fires of electric origin
- electrical arcing
- explosions initiated or caused by electricity
The Univeristy has a responsibility to ensure that:
- electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure is minimised
- any at-risk visitors are suitably informed and protected
- all electrical and electronic waste is disposed of appropriately