This week, there has been an incident which resulted in a small fire breaking out in one of our buildings while a personal mobile phone was being charged.
Thankfully no one was seriously injured in the incident. However, given the great reliance on such equipment, both in and out of the workplace, the Corporate Health and Safety Unit would like to remind all staff of the dangers associated with electrical equipment and the County Councils Policy on electrical items.
HS 023 Electrical Equipment states:
Users will not bring their own electrical equipment onto council-controlled premises or use any such equipment on council-controlled premises unless permission has been granted by the Premises/ Facilities Manager and its use has been approved by them.
Any such equipment belonging to employees brought onto Council controlled premises through this process will be subject to all provisions of this policy as if the equipment was Council owned.
Combined inspections and testing of portable electrical equipment (PAT testing)
PAT testing is an in-depth process and competent testers will have all the knowledge and skills necessary for the actual testing. However, when arranging for PAT testing to be conducted, the following guidelines, should be considered.
Battery Operated Equipment
Battery operated equipment is not normally a risk because of the low voltages used. However, the following must be noted:
- Use the approved charger only
- Batteries that have been left for a long period can burst and leak chemicals that can burn skin on contact. Remove batteries from equipment that is not to be used for a long period (more than one month)
- Battery operated devices can still have large voltages generated internally and should therefore not be used around water unless specially designed for that purpose
General guidance includes:
- Always use the charger that came with your phone, tablet, e-cigarette or mobile device
- If you need to buy a replacement, always choose a branded, genuine product from a supplier you can trust. There are lots of fakes out there, and it can be difficult to spot the difference
- Avoid storing, using or charging batteries at very high or low temperatures
- Protect batteries against being damaged – that’s crushed, punctured or immersed in water
- Don’t leave items continuously on charge after the charge cycle is complete – it’s best not to leave your phone plugged in overnight for example
- Never cover chargers or charging devices – that includes using your laptop power lead in bed
- When you travel, avoid keeping all your items containing lithium ion batteries together, especially on a plane. Check with your flight carrier for additional information or advice
- Don’t overload your sockets – learn more about how much is too much on the fuses and power load page
Counterfeit electrical chargers can be deadly – many fail to meet UK safety regulations leading to fires and injury. What may seem like a bargain at the market isn’t worth the risk.