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 both minor and serious injuries. In fact, electrical incidents are one of the top three most common types of injuries in the workplace – alongside trips and falls, and manual handling.
Without due care and attention, accidents can happen within your building: causing electrical burns, electric shock, loss of muscle control and thermal burns to name just a few. To avoid the implications of injury under your roof, you must follow current electrical safety recommendations to the letter. After all, it is these regulations that will keep both you and your employees safe.
To set you on the right path, here are our 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 great deal of trouble further down the line. The best way to do this is by involving a fully-qualified electrician: one that is NICEIC, NAPIT and City & Guilds approved.
The same applies if you are renovating or extending your building. 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 from trips and falls via general health and safety.
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? In general, a landlord will be responsible for electrical wiring and appliances provided as part of the tenancy. The tenant must maintain any specific hazards introduced as part of the business: whether that’s heavy machinery or just several PCs and printers. But err on the side of caution and always double-check.
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’ll then write up 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 your electrical appliances. That includes domestic appliances such as dishwashers and kettles, office equipment such as laptops and photocopiers, and even lighting features. Once your 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 certificates to show that electrical safety guidelines have been followed. This may include NICEIC reports, landlord safety certificates, electrical conditions reports and proof of PAT testing. These are important documents, so be sure to keep them safe and close to hand.
6. Carry Out Your Own Simple Checks
To be a responsible commercial building manager, you don’t always need to call in the electrician. Yes it is important to have regular expert inspections, but 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 hazards – 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 your 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 months, electric fans may be used in abundance. In winter, freestanding electric heaters may be key to survival. As a landlord or managing agent, 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
We all know that electrical items can cause fires, so make sure that you have smoke detectors in place along with a well-rehearsed fire drill. You cannot afford to have a sub-standard alarm system, so ask a qualified electrician to install it – followed by weekly system tests.
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. Follow health and safety recommendations to the later – including an appointed, fully-trained first-aider on the premises at all times. To be on the safe side, print out a copy of HSE’s electric shock poster and place it in a prominent position for all to see.
Call in the Experts
If you are concerned about the electrics in your commercial building or would like some advice, we can help at Spark Squad. Our UK team of electricians is fully-qualified, NICEIC, NAPIT and City & Guilds approved – ensuring they are able to deliver our high standards and unrivalled level of customer service. For more information, take a look at our professional commercial electrical services or call on 01395-350-125 today.