Electrical Compliance: Expert Discusses the Challe...

Electrical Compliance: Expert Discusses the Challe...

Electrical Compliance: Expert Discusses the Challe...

Electrical safety is a topic of utmost importance – complying with relevant regulations to the highest degree should be a priority if businesses are to mitigate the significant occupational hazards that come with working in the field.  

Here, Simon Concar, managing director of adi Electrical, a division of leading UK multidisciplinary engineering firm adi Group, discusses the vital role of electrical compliance. He says, “Compliance failure can have disastrous consequences, from operational delays and additional expenses as a result of equipment failure, to electric shock injuries and explosions caused by faulty or unsuitable equipment, and even property loss due to fire.

“Electrical equipment has been identified as the number one cause of fire and explosions in buildings containing flammable materials, and there’s a range of similar statistics that prove just how valuable compliance is in safeguarding workers’ wellbeing and minimising damage to sites.”

With some studies showing that in a year, around 47% of electrical accidents involve fully trained individuals possessing relevant electrical knowledge and expertise, it is clear that regulations and safety procedures should never be disregarded. But what exactly goes into ensuring compliance and safety procedures are suitably followed in every respect?


Electrical equipment failure: the causes and risks

“Electrical equipment failure can be caused by a range of factors, with potential repercussions ranging from mild to severe,” says Simon.

“Equipment such as switchgear, transformers and cables can fail for a number of reasons. Cables, for instance, may be subject to punctures, and when cables are in ducts or tunnels, there’s a higher chance for fire to spread more easily, should they come into contact with potential flammable materials.”

Switchgear failure hazards can be particularly damaging, resulting in electric shock, fire and explosions, which can be caused by faulty circuit breakers, issues with auxiliary equipment, incorrect testing or maintenance or simply failing to follow the proper regulations and procedures.

“Transformer failures can also be problematic, with potential faults including failure of internal insulation structures, lightning and voltage transients or interturn and overloading faults.

“Circuit breaker failures often occur due to poor mechanical design. Junction connections in particular are one of the most critical points, as loose and faulty connections can lead to thermal runaway and eventually failure of the connections.

“Environmental factors can also play a role, with pollutants and extreme temperature changes causing contamination in insulation and faster aging,” adds Simon.

Any of these failures can cause substantial health and safety risks for workers, and with such a vast array of variables and factors to take into account, managing risks effectively requires in-depth knowledge of relevant regulations.


What are the regulations in the UK?

“Having a thorough understanding of the relevant regulations is the first step. Different regulations cover different aspects of electrical compliance, and each one has a vital role to play,” comments Simon.

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 place responsibility on employers and employees to ensure that all equipment used is safe. This covers electrical systems and equipment, and work activities that require utilising or being in close proximity to these, with the ultimate aim to prevent death or injury.

On the other hand, British Standard’s BS 7671 18th Edition IET Wiring Regulations lay out rules required for the safe design, installation and maintenance of electrical wiring in buildings.

These regulatory electrical requirements should be observed in conjunction with supplementary electrical compliance regulations including the CDM Regulations 2015, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers 1584 Arc Flash Hazard Calculations, the Standard for Electrical safety in the Workplace and the Electrical Protection Selectivity ‘Grading’ Study & Review.

“It’s also important to remember that other international or local guidelines may apply in certain circumstances, and being fully aware of whether compliance with other regulations is required prior to the start of a project is essential,” says Simon.


The vital role of fully trained and qualified employees

“Businesses operating with electrical equipment should appoint specific individuals with specific roles, clarifying the responsibilities assigned to each person. Though dual roles may be held by one person, all roles should be clearly defined, and these individuals should be qualified to take on duties as required,” says Simon.

“There should always be individuals appointed to take overall responsibility for the work being conducted and to ensure the safety of workers and equipment.

“As well as that, electricians should possess relevant technical knowledge and hold recognised electrical test and inspection qualifications. There’s simply no room for lack of skills or inadequate training, and all roles required should be adequately filled.”


Is there more to electrical safety and compliance?

“Frequency of inspection is another important factor. No electrical installation should be left unattended, and the recommended initial frequencies of inspection, as well as routine checks, should always be followed, in line with specific regulations.

“A suitable schedule of periodic inspections and preventative maintenance means putting the right management procedures in place beyond the initial stages of a project, and therefore significantly minimising the risk of accidents occurring,” states Simon.

Low-voltage and high-voltage equipment require different frequencies and types of inspections, and a dedicated inspection schedule should be accurately maintained to ensure the smooth running of operations. What’s more, equipment itself requires compliance, too, with necessary tests being carried out to ensure components are functioning correctly.

“One of the most important things to remember with regards to compliance is keeping an accurate record of all checks, tests and inspections conducted in accordance with relevant regulations, including their results, preferably utilising digital systems. Doing so consistently and efficiently is incredibly beneficial in the long run,” Simon adds.


Enlisting the help of experts in the field

With over 30 years of expertise in offering high-quality electrical installation services and solutions for a range of clients, adi Electrical has the ability to complete any project successfully, on time and within budget.

adi Electrical provides a full suite of energised and de-energised electrical preventative maintenance programmes, along with full planned testing regimes. The programmes cover all of the distribution system, from main incoming supply to machine or equipment final circuit periodic inspection, along with expanding the regimes to test and inspect the likes of emergency lights, illumination levels, lightning protection and transformer performance.

adi Electrical’s expertise is highly sought after and valued by many of the world’s leading global brands. To learn more about how adi Electrical can help you, please visit: adi Electrical | adi (adiltd.co.uk)