Stay Plugged In: A Guide To Extension Lead Safety In The Office 

 

It’s fair to say that in every workplace – from schools to garages, restaurant kitchens to care homes – we rely heavily on our electrical gadgets to power our day. This is especially true of office buildings, where work typically involves an array of electrical equipment, such as desktop computers or laptops, monitors, printers and so on; and where frequently the demand for power outlets outweigh the supply.

Unsurprisingly, extension leads have become indispensable to ensuring a constant supply to the myriad of gadgets we rely on daily. But when overloaded or misused, extension leads can morph from handy tools to lurking hazards. Here we delve into the realm of extension lead safety and explore best practice tips to help you foster a safer, more productive workspace.

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Understanding the safety significance

Extension lead safety is not just a matter of good practice –it's a legal obligation. The In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment code of practice 5th edition includes specific technical requirements around the use of extension leads and multiway adaptors. The Health & Safety at Work Act and The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 make it businesses’ responsibility to provide a safe working environment for employees and customers.

The improper use of extension leads can invite a host of unwanted scenarios such as tripping accidents, electrical shocks, fire incidents, or damage to valuable equipment. Therefore, being familiar with the health and safety regulations surrounding extension lead usage is crucial. Moreover, ensuring compliance with these regulations is not just about avoiding legal repercussions but about creating a culture of safety and responsibility within the workspace.

Unravelling the hazards

When venturing into the usage of extension leads, it’s important to consider the risks these pose:

  • Tripping hazards – A cord stretched across the floor is a tripping disaster waiting to happen with potential significant consequences for individuals.
  • Fire Outbreaks – Overloading extension leads or using damaged ones can easily spark fires.
  • Electrical Shocks – Exposed wires or incorrect usage are open invitations to dangerous electric shocks.
  • Equipment Damage – Your expensive equipment stands at the risk of damage with improper extension lead use.
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Adhering to health and safety regulations

The pathway to maintainingextension lead safety begins with a comprehensive understanding of your obligations to put in place and ensure company-wide health and safety policies and procedures. These should include:

  • Risk Assessment – Undertake a detailed risk assessment to identify potential hazards and define the necessity and proper usage of extension leads in your office.

 

  • Educating employees – Organise training sessions to educate employees on safe practices and the importance of recognising and reporting any damaged cords or unsafe scenarios.
  • Routine Inspections – Regular inspections of extension leads for any signs of damage or wear and tear are essential. Employing professional compliance services for regular inspection can help in identifying potential issues early on, thereby averting accidents.

 

  • Emergency Protocols – Draft clear and concise emergency protocols for dealing with electrical mishaps and ensure that all employees are well-versed with them.

 

Putting such measures in place can seem like a big commitment of company resources, but help is at hand. At phs Compliance we offer a wide range of services including electrical inspections in line with the latest legal requirements and regulations, ensuring that businesses remain compliant with the latest statutory safety regulations. Our comprehensive service offering encompasses not only routine inspections but also In service inspection and testing of electrical equipment, AKA Portable Appliance Testing (PAT), emergency lighting testing, and a host of other compliance services which are instrumental in ensuring a safe and compliant workspace.

Practical measures for extension lead safety

Navigating beyond legal compliance, practical measures are the cornerstone of extension lead safety. Here are some useful Do’s and Don’ts to consider:

  • DO… Ensure the right capacity – Choose extension leads that can handle the total electrical load of the devices to be plugged in, bearing in mind that not all loads are equal. For example, a kettle uses 20 times more power than a fridge. Some extension leads are fused to handle up to 13 amps, whilst others may only be able to handle 10 amps, so it’s important there for to know the combined load of all devices.
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  • DON'T... cover extension leads with a carpet, mat or blanket - This can significantly increase the risk of overheating and damage to your extension lead, as well as create a trip hazard.
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  • DO…Ensure proper placement – Position cords away from walkways to mitigate tripping hazards and make sure it’s placed well away from any water sources to avoid getting wet.
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  • DON’T… Daisy chain: Connecting multiple extension leads is a risky venture; if a longer cord is needed, choose one that meets the required length.
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  • DO… Keep your extension lead safe and switched off at the socket when not in use – Make sure to switch off, unplug and store your extension cord in a safe place. Avoid wrapping the cord around the lead as this can damage it.
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  • DO… Carry out regular PAT testing and monitoring– Making sure your appliances are safety tested is an absolute must, and failure to do so carries serious consequences. Keeping a regular check on extension leads for any damage is also essential, and always ensure they are in good working condition.
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  • And finally, DO… Invest in quality extension leads– While it might be tempting to save the pennies, selecting a high-quality, durable extension leads that meet UK safety standards is pivotal.
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    A collective endeavour…

    Extension lead safety is a collaborative effort demanding a proactive approach from both employers and employees. Adhering to health and safety regulations, educating the workforce, and embedding best practices within the organisational culture are essential strides towards fostering a safe and conducive work environment.

    Whilst it may be challenging for businesses to maintain compliance across the sheer volume of electrical equipment used by most offices today, phs Compliance’s UK-wide inspection and testing services offer the perfect solution.By engaging the help of our fully licensed professional technicians, we can significantly reduce the strain on your resources and ensure a safe office environment for your workforce.

    Contact phs Complianceto discuss our range of safety services today.

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