Electrical Safety

Emergencies and Power Outages

If life or property is threatened, please call 000.

For electrical emergencies, faults and leaks, call 13 13 51.

General Electrical Guidance for your Safety and Wellbeing

Electricity is a constant hazard in many workplaces and workers who work on or near electricity are at risk of shocks, burns, other serious injuries or even death.

Residual Current Devices

  • Residual current devices (RCDs), or safety switches, are electrical safety devices designed to immediately switch off the supply of electricity when electricity leaking to earth is detected at harmful levels.
  • RCDs offer high levels of personal protection from electric shock.
  • Workplace fatalities can be prevented by the use of properly installed and maintained RCDs.

 Extension Leads

  • Extension leads should only be regarded as a temporary arrangement for power distribution.
  • Run extension cords and power leads around the walls and around the backs of desks.
  • Do not run cords across walk or trafficable areas, under chairs or furniture, under carpets or between rooms.
  • Use heavy-duty extension cords outdoors and use a residual current device (RCD) for personal protection.
  • Do not squash extension cords between furniture, walls, and windows.
  • Keep cords away from hot or wet surfaces.
  • Inspect cords to check that they are in good condition.
  • Discolouration can indicate overheating due to overloading; this needs to be examine to see if it is still safe to use.
  • Extension leads and power cords are separate electrical items and should be inspected separately.
  • Even leads with moulded plugs and sockets may have manufacturing defects and should be checked for correct wiring.
  • If a lead is cut or damaged, it must be replaced unless it can be repaired by a suitably licensed person.

Electrical Appliances

  • All users of electrical appliances should conduct a visual check of equipment they are about to use to ensure it is safe to use. Most faults with electrical appliances can be detected with a visual inspection.
  • Switch off and, if safe to do so, unplug any faulty or suspect electrical appliance; do not continue to use it, place a label on it showing it is faulty and report it so it can be tested, repaired or replaced.
  • Do not use portable electrical appliances where they may become wet or have liquid spilt on or into them.
  • Switch off and unplug any wet appliance or lead if safe to do so.
  • Do not remove any fixed covers from portable electrical appliances as there is a high risk of electric shock occurring if the appliance is plugged in while the covers are removed.
  • Avoid overloading powerpoints and power boards. As a guide, high wattage devices such as electric heaters and jugs should have their own powerpoint as they typically draw half to three-quarters the capacity of the powerpoint, so when used in conjunction with several other appliances, they could blow a fuse or trip a circuit breaker or cause a fire.

Lighting and Heating

  • Halogen desk lamps are hot when operating and can become a fire risk if flammable materials come into contact with them, such as curtains or paper.
  • Consider using a compact fluorescent as a cooler alternative to a halogen lamp.
  • Compact fluorescent lamps overheat if put in an enclosed light fitting, so ensure there is adequate ventilation.
  • Never leave your office with appliances such as heaters operating.

Power Boards

  • Power boards should have overload protection fitted and should also have built in on/off switches.
  • In cases where higher current drawing equipment is to be used, consideration should be given to installation of fixed sockets as an alternative to use of power boards.
  • Place power boards in ventilated areas, keep them free of dust and dirt and off the floor wherever possible to stop liquid entry, and keep leads tidy.
  • Double adaptors and similar are not to be used as they have no overload protection.


  • Make sure that all powerpoints have earth leakage circuit breakers (ELCB) or safety switches fitted and are labelled to indicate what type of protection is in use and to which circuit the powerpoint is connected.
  • Make sure that plugs are pushed fully into the socket, so that no part of the pins are exposed.
  • Report any damaged powerpoints so they can be repaired.
  • To avoid a shock, switch off powerpoints before plugging and unplugging appliances.
  • Remove appliances from the powerpoint by holding the plug, not by pulling the cord.

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