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How can you ensure that your business is safe this winter?
While everyday electrical appliances and equipment within your workplace are often regularly tested to meet Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, when it comes to the winter months, these regulations can often be disregarded.
During the winter months, electrical items are brought out of the cupboard and dusted off for another year, as businesses seek additional ways of staying warm and decorating their offices for the festive season.
That being said, there are a number of ways that you can ensure that your business remains protected from electrical hazards during the winter months:
1. Delegate responsibility to key members of staff to check electrics are switched off
With offices and warehouses often operating with skeleton staff over the festive period, there is less guarantee that someone will always be in each day of the week. Therefore it is crucial that all necessary electrics are turned off at the end of each day. This is especially necessary over the winter period when additional electrics such as fairy lights and portable heaters are plugged in and may be forgotten about.
By delegating responsibility to a group of employees to ensure that this task is complete at the end of each day they are working, this will reduce the likelihood of electrics remaining on for a prolonged period.
2.Ensure that extension cables are not overcrowded
It is inevitable that people are more likely to overcrowd extension cables over the winter months. With extra electrical items likely to be plugged in, such as space heaters and festive lighting, where plug sockets are usually safety compliant, rules may be broken to accommodate these.
If using an extension cable, never overcrowd it. Extension cables plugged into other extension cables are likely to cause overheating. If you require one, make sure to use a fused ‘inline’ cable, rather than an extension cube and if you spot any damage to cables or general wear and tear, replace it immediately.
3.Ensure portable heaters are a safe distance away from anything
As well as being costly to power, portable heaters are the cause of over 800 fires in commercial buildings each year. Typically fires start when flammable items are placed too close to the heater.
When using a portable heater, make sure that it is kept at least three feet away from all flammable items, including coats, paper and Christmas decorations. Never leave the heater unattended and unplug from the power source when not in use.
If you’re in the market for portable heaters to provide additional warmth in your workplace, an oil filled electric heater, with an automatic shut-off is the safest.
4.Unplug all electrical appliances during the Christmas break
Although we tend to keep electrical appliances plugged in most of the time, we are usually able to recognise and report any potential hazards in the workplace before they become dangerous.
However, whether your business is closed for just the bank holidays or an extended period over Christmas, it is crucial that as many electrical appliances as possible are switched off and unplugged.
While unplugging electrical appliances will reduce your energy bill over the festive period, it will also ensure your office is not at risk from electrical hazards.
It is advised that if your business is closed for over a week, larger appliances such as fridges, dishwashers and printers should be turned off and unplugged at the wall.
Karl Bantleman at Direct365 commented, “In the lead up to Christmas, concern should be heightened around electrical safety in the workplace as businesses dig out their festive decorations for another year and turn to additional ways of keeping warm.
All businesses must comply with legislation in order to maintain safe working conditions for their staff, and PAT testing is advised on a yearly basis to ensure that portable electrical appliances are in safe working order.
Therefore, while additional electrical items such as portable heaters and festive lighting is used for a limited period in your office, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that they are in safe working order and will not cause any harm to employees.”
Head to Direct365 to find more information about the electrical compliance services on offer.
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