Case 355 - All tools on building sites need to be a maximum of 110V


The enquirer was tasked with carrying out sound insulation tests in houses on a construction site. The site manager asked him if his equipment was battery operated to which his reply was "no, it will need to be plugged into a 230V socket". He asked if there was 230V power in the plots and the site manager said yes it was available but all "tools" on site need to run off a maximum of 110V as this was the company policy.

Panel opinion

The enquirer appears to have been planning to work in a completed (or nearly) completed house with the electrical system installed and compliant with requirements for electrical installations. This is a significantly lower risk from when the house is under construction. Whilst health and safety law does not ban 230v tools on construction sites, HSE strongly advises that 110v tools are preferable given the wet, dirty and dusty nature of construction sites and the possibility of mechanical damage to cables and tools.  

In this instance a standard which is reasonable for a live, temporary, construction site is being applied to a different (domestic) environment where the risks would be much lower and the electrical system permanent and compliant with the latest standards. If a site or company decide to impose a higher (disproportionate) standard in this lower risk environment they can but it is not health and safety law that requires this.