Workplace accidents involving electricity cause 25 deaths per year and many injuries besides. It is important to ensure that contractors and suppliers understand and try to mitigate the risks associated with working closely with electricity.
When maintenance work requires exposure to electrical hazards, it is important that special measures are introduced to help prevent danger. Well established policies and procedures related to electrical isolation are crucial to maintaining a safe working environment.
Use the checklist below to assess your contractors and suppliers for their electrical isolation credentials.
Any company that is likely to expose electrical circuits during the course of its operations should be able to provide policy documentation covering the safe isolation of circuits. At a minimum this should include:
- The company’s Health and Safety officer
- A statement of compliance with ‘Health and Safety’ and ‘Electricity at Work’ regulations
- Details of qualifications/training required for authorisation
- A commitment to provide appropriate equipment
- A commitment to producing risk assessments prior to any electrical isolation
- A policy with respect to ‘working live’ (see bottom of page)
Contractors should also be able to provide a documented procedure for safe isolation of electrical circuits. The procedure should, at a minimum, detail the following:
- How a safe isolation will be achieved with respect to specific circuits
- A list of persons authorised to carry out specific work
- Systems established for explaining work to employees
- Process for shutting down connected equipment
- Steps to prevent accidental re-connection
- Which notices and signs are to be used to alert people to dangers
- What ‘lock out’ arrangements are to be used
- A list of equipment to be used in isolations and its suitability (for example electricians padlocks should have unique keys to prevent removal)
- Process for getting work permits including which individuals can issue them
- Process for proving circuits are deactivated prior to work commencing
- Process for re-energising a circuit following works completion
- Procedure for working live (see below)
It is important to ensure that staff members have been given sufficient training to undertake the isolation of electrical circuits. A contractor should have records of:
- Formal training given about working with electricity
- Specific training on the equipment provided for electrical isolations
- Specific training on a company’s procedure
In certain cases it is necessary for work to be carried out without shutting down a circuit. Working live can be very dangerous so it is important to seek assurances that it will never be undertaken for convenience or expedience. According to the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, working on or near a live conductor is forbidden unless:
- It is unreasonable in all the circumstances for it to be dead; and
- It is unreasonable in all circumstances for him to be at work on or near it while it is live; and
- Suitable precautions (including where the necessary provision of suitable protective equipment) are taken to prevent injury
In their policies and procedures, a contractor should clearly lay out the company's position with respect to working on live electrical circuits. There should be a clear commitment to avoiding this work at all costs. In cases where working live is unavoidable, contractors must provide justification in line with the above regulations, and detail any precautions that they will take to minimise risk.
Better manage your suppliers and contractors
Managing logistics, procurement, information security and a myriad of other requirements means compliance is often the last thing you want to be thinking about. Compliance, however, can help you achieve a comprehensive, reliable and performance-driven supply chain. Download our free guide to supply chain best practice to find out more.
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