Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 – what you need to know


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According to recent statistics from campaign group Electrical Safety First, around 2.5 million people suffer some form of electric shock each year – and approximately 350,000 of them suffer a serious injury as a result.

Those who work closely with electricity have a duty to work in a safe manner that does not endanger themselves of the health and wellbeing of others (e.g. fellow employees, members of the public etc.)

As a way to protect employers and their staff from the risk of accident and injury, the Electricity at Work Regulations were introduced in 1989, providing guidelines to help those who work with electricity to do so in a safe and controlled manner.

Below we look closely at the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 and explain what they may mean for you.

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Who do the Regulations apply to?

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 are designed to be followed by employers, their employees and self-employed workers. Employees have a duty to follow the rules and direction of their employer to maintain a safe working environment.

The Regulations set out a legal duty for anyone who works with electricity to work in a safe manner that reduces risk and prevents harm to themselves or others.

What do the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 say?

The regulations say that electrical equipment should be constructed in the safest manner possible in order to prevent injury from an accident at work. Those who work with such electrical equipment are responsible for regularly inspecting it for faults which, if and when discovered, should be fixed as soon as is reasonably possible.

The regulations state that protective equipment should be used when necessary when working with electrical equipment, and that employers have a duty to provide adequate protective equipment for their staff. Employees are also responsible for making sure all protective equipment is used in the correct manner, according to training they have received from their employer.

All electrical equipment in the workplace should be in good working order, should be the correct equipment for the task and should be checked for safety on a regular basis. It should also be suitably protected from mechanical damage, rust, corrosion and flammable/explosive materials.

The regulations go on to state that all electricity conductors in the workplace should be insulated to avoid accidents and injury, and appropriate levels of earthing must be applied to all electrical appliances. Also, all electrical equipment must be constructed in a way that prevents the electrical current from reaching unsafe levels.

All electrical items in the workplace have to be made safe for employees who work in and around them, using an isolation function – which means for example that when electrical equipment is being repaired all sources of electricity can by shut off. If isolating the electricity supply is not possible while working on electrical machinery or tools, then a risk assessment must be carried out to determine whether ‘live working’ is necessary. If it is deemed to be necessary then the appropriate equipment must be used by all workers involved.

Electric shock injuries at work

If your employer has not followed their duty of care as laid out by the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, and you have been injured as a result, then you could be entitled to make an accident at work compensation claim.

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