Electricity - Systems in buildings

What you need to do

The law says you must take precautions against the risk of death or injury from electricity during construction work.

Refurbishment work in buildings presents the greatest risk and must be planned, managed and monitored to ensure that workers are not exposed to risk from electricity.

Specific specialist electrical work should only be undertaken by those who are trained and competent to do so and by following strict procedures

The electrical equipment used must be safe, and properly maintained.

The key issues are:

What you need to know

About three workers are electrocuted each year during refurbishment work on commercial and domestic buildings. Further deaths occur in incidents involving overhead power lines and underground electric cables.

Incidents within buildings involve both qualified electricians and other trades people. They happen when people are working on or close to equipment that is either:

There are many more incidents which damage equipment and thousands of 'near-misses', any of which could have had fatal results.

Remember: electricity can kill – unlike most other hazards you cannot see, feel, hear or smell electricity so there is no advance warning of danger.

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Managing electrical risk during refurbishment work

A number of electrocutions involve workers who are not electricians but who are carrying other works, such as plumbers and joiners. These incidents could be reduced by:

Controlling risk to electricians

Electricians are not immune from electrical dangers. A number of the electrocutions on construction projects involve qualified electricians.

Safe working practices rely on clearly thought-out systems of work, carried through by competent and trained personnel who are self-disciplined and aware of their own limitations.

To plan and execute electrical work safely, there should be adequate information available about the electrical system and the work to be done.

Electrical contractors should not work 'live' if it can be avoided nor should they make systems live before they have finished their work and everything has been installed correctly.

Safe isolation procedures must be followed at all times.

Remember: electrical work should only be undertaken by those who are trained and competent to do so.