Everyone knows that electricity can be dangerous – there is nothing ground breaking in that statement! Most people give their electrical appliances, sockets and switches the correct due care and attention when using them, but give little or no thought to the wiring and infrastructure that runs behind the scenes.
Which, when you think about, is quite strange. Most people in the UK ensure that their gas boilers and their cars are serviced regularly. And that is irrespective of any suspected faults or issues. But, when it comes to electrics in the home, we assume that if it is working then there can not be a problem.
There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, electricity is not tangible. Unlike other utilities. You can not hear it or see it and it has no smell. Which means that often there are no obvious signs of problems. Secondly, there have been no big awareness campaigns in the UK regarding electrical safety in recent years, unlike gas safety (as it happens it was Gas Safety Week last week!)
With no prospect of any government backed campaigns in the short term it is down to local authorities and local, reputable companies to educate their own communities. There are guidelines in place recommending the frequency of electrical testing. Testing frequency varies strongly with the use of the building in question, but for home owners you should have a full electrical installation condition report at least every five years.
This holds true if you're a landlord too, but with a very important and commonly unknown addition: you should test the electrical installation every time your tenant changes too!
Things are further complicated when public buildings are concerned. Building use, numbers of people permanently occupying the building, the number and frequency of visitors. The demographic of anyone using the building all must be considered when testing frequency is set. As a very rough rule of thumb education establishments require the most frequent testing at every four months. Along with this, caravan parks, marinas, fish farms and swimming pools also require this frequency of testing. a really surprising fact is that construction sites should be tested every three months.
This followed by: hospitals, offices, shops, cinemas, churches, restaurants, theaters, village halls and public houses every year.
In short, if you have the responsibility for staff or members of the public, you need to give due care and consideration to electrical safety, much as you would to any other area of health and safety. If in doubt please visit: http://www.bsigroup.com/en-GB/our-services/product-certification/industry-sector-schemes/electrical-kitemark-and-product-certification-schemes/