Managing a commercial building comes with a whole set of very serious responsibilities. Whether you are a landlord, managing agent or employer, you have a duty of care to the people who use the building day in, day out. One of the most important areas to focus on is electrical safety.
The risk of electrical injury can come from a whole range of areas. From exposed wires to faulty appliances, electrics are responsible for a range of injuries. In fact, electrical incidents are one of the top three most common types of injuries in the workplace.
Without due care and attention, accidents can happen within your building: causing electrical burns, electric shock, and thermal burns to name just a few. To avoid the implications of injury, you must follow current electrical safety guidelines and a qualified electrician can help you with that.
To help you we have identified 10 electrical safety recommendations for commercial building management.
1. Oversee Proper Construction
If you have been involved in the initial construction of your commercial building, ensure that electrical safety guidelines are followed during the build. Get it right at this stage, and you will save yourself a a lot of trouble further down the line. The best way to do this is by involving a fully-qualified electrician: one that is preferably registered with an appropriate scheme in case of any issues.
If you are renovating or extending your building, the same applies. In fact, the issue of electrical safety is all the more pressing, because it’s likely the work will be taking place while your staff are on the premises. Don’t just focus on the end result: make sure your employees are protected and safe.
2. Understand Your Responsibilities
Be clear about who is responsible for electrical safety, especially if you are sub-letting your property. Is the landlord, tenant or managing agent accountable for the maintenance of electrical items? Check what provisions you have in place in your Lease or AST.
3. Schedule Regular Inspections
As the manager or owner of a commercial building, you must arrange regular inspections of the electrics to ensure the safety of your tenants. A qualified electrician will test your circuits for overloading, identify hazards, spot a lack of earthing or bonding and find any electrical defects. They will also provide you with a detailed Electrical Condition Report, including any ‘must-do’ safety tasks to ensure compliance.
4. Remember to PAT Test
Whether you are a business owner or commercial landlord, PAT testing is a legal requirement to ensure the safety of electrical appliances. That includes domestic appliances such as dishwashers and kettles, office equipment such as laptops and photocopiers, and even lighting features. Once the appliances have passed the PAT test, take note of the expiry date and make sure you book in a new set of testing with a qualified electrician.
5. Obtain Certificates, And Keep Them Safe
To cover your back, make sure you always obtain relevant certificates to show that electrical safety guidelines have been followed. This may include landlord safety certificates, electrical conditions reports and proof of PAT testing.
6. Carry Out Your Own Simple Checks
To be a responsible commercial building manager, you don’t always need to call in the electrician. While it is important to have regular expert inspections, there is no cap on the number of times you carry out a visual assessment of your own accord. Pay attention to the electrics in your building; including sockets, light fittings and appliances. If you spot any potential issues – such as broken casing or signs of overheating – call in a professional. Likewise, encourage your workforce to report any problems as soon as they see them.
7. Set Up Emergency Lighting
If the electrics fail and your building is plunged into darkness, do you have a back-up plan for safe evacuation? Emergency lighting does not use mains electricity, so if there is a problem it will kick into action and lead your employees to safety. This can be set up by your electrician, and tested on a regular basis.
8. Understand Seasonal Risks
Changing weather can pose very different risks in the workplace. During the summer, electric fans may be used in abundance; in winter, electric heaters may be used. You need to understand the risks according to the seasons and react accordingly. Make sure any appliance is PAT tested, and check that sockets are not overloaded.
9. Be Fire Conscious
Its widely known that electrical items can cause fires, so make sure that you have smoke detectors placed in the building. Ask a qualified electrician to install an alarm system, and make sure everyone is aware of the emergency evacuation plan and test it regularly.
10. Never Underestimate the Importance of First Aid
If the worst does happen and a member of staff is injured by faulty electrics in the workplace, you need to have safety drills in place. Appoint a fully-trained first-aider on the premises at all times.
If you are unsure about an installation, need advice or assistance please contact PC Electricals. We also have more electrical safety tips on our website www.pcelectricals-dorset.co.uk , Facebook or Twitter pages.