Does your electrical safety management stand up to scrutiny?
“Safety management has to be made accessible to technical and non-technical people so that risks to people and their business are safely reduced.”
So says Bill Bates, a former principal Health and Safety Executive inspector with over 20 years of investigating electrical safety breaches.
The statistics speak for themselves: 2015/16 figures from HSE and CPOFS report 696 cases of safety non-compliance, with 660 convictions – a 95% conviction rate. £38.3million of fines were issued, compared with £18.1million in 2014/15, and the estimated cost of workplace injuries is running at £4.8 billion, including 144 fatalities.
One of the key issues, Bates believes, is that often the person charged with electrical safety responsibility isn’t an electrician or engineer and might have had no specialist training at all. But the consequences of an incident deemed preventable can be massive. “Directors and managers can be jailed, large fines and costs can affect the organisation. That’s before we start on the other consequential costs and psychological damage.”
Employers should also be mindful to a change in sentencing guidelines from February 2016, which has allowed significantly higher penalties in fines and more immediate and suspended custodial sentences. Some of the fines have exceeded £1million even for non-fatal injury incidents, such as the Merlin Attractions/Alton Towers ride of £5 million. There have been big fines for non-injury prosecutions because the emphasis is now the risk and not the consequential injury.
“That’s why it’s important that everyone who looks after the workplace – whether a building or an outdoor site – should know how to look after electrical safety. There are risks and consequences for everyone: directors, managers, employees, contractors, families, members of the public and you. You are not safe from prosecution if you are not working safely and have no injury this time!”
In 2013, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) published the Code of Practice for Electrical Safety Management, as a tool to help organisations of all sizes to provide guidance on the process for managing electrical safety, and aiding responsible personnel to reach a certain level of knowledge and understanding to manage the risks associated with an electrical system.
Nnamdi Jenkins-Johnston, Portfolio Development Manager, IET Standards, said: “The Code of Practice enables both technical and non-technical personnel to have a broader understanding of what can be regarded as a good practice, structured approach to managing electrical safety for all types and size of organisation.”
The IET also runs an associated Electrical Safety Management 2-day training course, where delegates can bring their current electrical safety management policy and procedure documents for assessment and advice. Bates will be joined by Bill Tubey, a leading safety consultant and adviser in the electrical power industry.
Tubey says: “Electricity plays a vital role in industry and the management of its use is key to the safe and effective operation of any business. The course is aimed at helping reduce the risks inherent in the operation of any electrical power supply and keeping people safe whilst using it.”
Delegates will also gain a legal perspective from Michael Appleby, a solicitor who specialises in defending directors, senior individuals and companies facing investigation or prosecution for health and safety offences or manslaughter arising from work related incidents.
There are plenty of good reasons to manage risks safely. Electricity can be dangerous. It pays to be safe, avoiding the cost of incidents. It helps the business run smoothly. Clients will expect it. Workers will expect it. The law demands it. The risks can be managed.
The next dates for the IET’s Electrical Safety Management course are:
23 – 24 May 2017: IET London: Savoy Place
15 – 16 November 2017: IET Birmingham: Austin Court
Book your place today.
State of the health and safety profession
Dive in and explore the 'State of the health and safety profession, sourcing PPE in the age of COVID-19' webinar on-demand alongside Andrew Sharman, SHP editor Ian Hart and their guests.
Listen for free today.