Electricity at Work Regulations
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (EAW Regulations) came into force on 1 April 1990 and requires maintenance of electrical systems as far as reasonably practicable to prevent danger. The Health & Safety Executive circular on the subject aims to highlight the key issues on inspection and enforcement for inspectors. Practical guidance on the regulations is given in the Memorandum of guidance on the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 which should be read in conjunction with the circular. The guidance defines all systems, duties and maintenance and provides a series of guidelines which are accepted generally in law as being definitive. In essence this requires inspection and electrical testing on a regular basis in order maintain electrical portable appliances.
Health & Safety at Work Act
The Health & Safety at Work Act is also relevant in that it requires an employee to ensure the safety of all persons using work premises. Under this act it is incumbent on the employer to demonstrate that all reasonable practicable care, or in some cases absolute care, has been taken.
Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998
PUWER requires that an employer ensures work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair. It covers most risks that can result from the use of work equipment including mobile work equipment and covers all work sectors, apart from ship’s equipment.
IEE Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment
In terms of portable appliance inspection and testing, the IEE Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment (4th edition), an IET publication, is the key document after the Electricity @ Work 1989 and Provision and Use of Work Equipment 1998 Regulations publications. The Code of Practice is produced by The Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) to provide guidance to commerce and industry with regard to all aspects of `in -Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment.’ The document outlines in significant detail the requirements for portable appliance testing (PAT Testing) and gives definitions, detailed illustrations, and explanations.
Detailed test and inspection records are essential and may be the only effective method to prove that appropriate measures have been taken to avoid accidents in the place of work. In the unfortunate event of an electrical accident, such records may be your only defence in a court of law. Insurance does not cover breaches of the law.