Managing a Less Visible Fire Risk

Do you or your employees bring electrical goods from home into the workplace? Did you realise that, if these goods have not been safety checked, you are not compliant with health and safety regulations and are at greater risk of fire? Personal items of electrical equipment brought onto your premises are subject to the same regulations as appliances that belong to the business.

Worrying Statistics

A warning about this came recently from insurance firm RSA, which conducted a survey of 2,000 employees. They found that 40% of them had connected items like mobile phone chargers, hair straighteners and other personally owned items to the business power sources. More than half of them confessed that they hadn't had their appliances safety checked before they brought them into work.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect to come out of the survey was that nearly 10 in every 100 who had done so admitted that one of their items had caught fire, causing burns or electric shock in 9% of cases. Over a third of those injured had to be treated at a hospital. These figures clearly demonstrate the importance of having such items safety checked.

Being Prepared

Gary Long is Risk Solutions Director at RSA. He said that it is important for employers to have relevant policies and checks in place to avoid this. They should also make sure that all employees understand the regulations for electrical items at work, as well as how to react to such an emergency.

Make it a policy that if employees want to bring electrical items to work, they have to have them checked. Tell them when testers will be on site, so they can bring their own items for checking at the same time.

Despite the government's declared intention to relax the red tape for small businesses, for your own protection, it's a good idea to keep a record of your electrical testing. You could also keep labels on all electrical equipment at your business premises stating the date of their last check. If the worst happens and someone is badly injured or you have to make an insurance claim for fire damage, you will have evidence of your testing schedule and your proactive management of the risk.

No time for yet another admin job? If you use your outsourced bookkeepers to their full value, and employ them to assist on a variety of back office tasks, they can monitor this for you on a regular basis, make all the checking appointments you need and advertise them to your staff.
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