The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Prevention & Electricals – Part 102

June 14, 2021 12:12 pm

Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF) is a specialist fire engineering and fire risk management consultancy whose aim is to give information on best practice in fire safety for facilities management personnel through this blog series. In part 101, LWF looked at fire safety and electrical appliances. In part 102, we continue to look at how fire can be avoided when using electrical appliances.

When electrical appliances are in use in a building, it is important they are kept clean and not located where it is likely to come into contact with grease, oil or any waste material. A maintenance schedule should be created and adhered to for all items of electrical equipment and employees should not be allowed to bring in their own electrical appliances, unless a system of notification and inclusion in the maintenance schedule is implemented, along with an initial check for safety and compliance with the relevant standards.

At the end of the working day, all electrical equipment must be switched off, unless continued operation is essential to the running of the building. While it is often suggested that unplugging all electrical equipment is necessary, it can actually in the longer term cause wear and tear on plugs and sockets or cable terminations. It is, however, prudent to switch appliances off at the wall socket.

Even when equipment is considered to be low risk, it should be switched off when the working day comes to a close. In an area such as a workshop, which would contain numerous machines and appliances, a single isolator switch can be provided so that all appliances can be easily switched off.

Any safety audit should incorporate a visual inspection of all electrical appliances to check for obvious wear and tear to cables, for example. It is also important that any inconsistencies of operation are not worked around by employees, but are reported. For example, employees should be aware that having to ‘jiggle the lead to make it work’ or ‘hit it on the side to get it going’ mean the appliance in question is potentially dangerous and must be repaired or replaced.

Since 1989, portable appliance testing (PAT) programmes have operated in the workplace to satisfy the requirements of the Electricity at Work Regulations. Although the checks are designed, in the main, to ensure protection against electric shocks, the visual checks involved do help contribute to prevention of unnecessary and avoidable fires.

In part 103 of this series, LWF will look at how smokers’ materials affect fire safety and fire prevention planning for facilities managers. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact LWF on freephone 0800 410 1130.

Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.

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