Electrical Safety in the Workplace

Electricity and the use of electrical equipment is a routine activity in the workplace.  In view of the hazards of shock, death or fires, it is critical that the electrical supply and the electrical equipment used are safely managed.

What is the role of Buildings & Estates for the management of the University of Galway Electrical Supply?

Buildings & Estates is responsible for the safe management of the electrical supply as part of Buildings Services Engineering.  Issues with electrical supply should be reported via your Unit’s Buildings Liaison or in an emergency report it directly to Buildings & Estates on extension 2134/3333.

What is the role of the Head of Unit for the management of the Unit's Electrical Equipment/ Portable Appliances?

The safety of electrical equipment needs to be managed by the Unit to whom it belongs to.  Much of this equipment is regarded as portable equipment (see definition below).  There is a specific policy on Electrical Safety - Portable Equipment which summarizes the 3 levels of checks that apply.  Because such equipment can be damaged or used in hazardous environments, portable electrical equipment needs to be assessed to ensure that the correct level of checks are being used:

Level 1 All electrical equipment needs to be visually checked by the person using it.  A short guide Electrical Safety Visual checklist for all on how any staff member can check the electrical equipment they use has circulated to all staff.

Level 2 Any portable electrical equipment which is exposed to conditions e.g. damp, chemicals, likely to cause deterioration and to result in danger to the user needs to be periodically examined by a competent person. 

Level 3 Any portable electrical equipment used in conditions likely to cause deterioration and to result in danger to the user(s) needs to be periodically tested by a competent person.  This is commonly known as Portable Appliance Testing or PAT.           

Most Units where they need to carry out such periodic inspections (Level 2) and/or tests (Level 3) have a PATester and schedule of equipment.  They have first carried out a risk assessment to determine what equipment needs to be inspected and/or tested and at what frequency.

Can I do a basic visual check of the electrical equipment I use?

Yes, you can check standardised electrical equipment using Electrical Safety Visual checklist for all. If you have any queries or concerns please first contact your Unit Safety Co-ordinator, Principal Investigator, Laboratory Manager etc.

What is the definition of Portable (Electrical) Equipment?

The 2007 General Application regulations define portable equipment as equipment, including hand-held portable equipment, which:
(a) because of the manner in which it is to be used, requires to be moved while it is working,
(b) is designed so that it can be moved while it is working, or
(c) is moved from time to time between the periods during which it is working;

See links below for further Electrical Safety Resources. A number of these provide detailed guidance**.  UK publications referring to portable equipment testing apply different requirements from that required under the Irish regulations.

Are there other resources on electrical safety in the workplace?