Working in consultation with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Association for Science Education (ASE) and CLEAPSS Schools Science Service, the NUT have produced a succinct and highly valuable briefing on safety precautions to ensure electrical safety in schools.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 impose general duties on employers to ensure the safety of employees and others. The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 also set out specific requirements on electrical safety. All of these guidelines apply in schools in the same way as other workplaces.
Electrical equipment is in every school from the science labs to the library. Fortunately accidents are rare but care must be taken to ensure the safety of those working with or around electrical appliances. The NUT rightly quotes The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 emphasising the need for persons undertaking the maintenance or repair of electrical apparatus to be competent. This means any day-to-day testing of electrical apparatus could be carried out by staff who have received the necessary training for the task. More complex electrical testing and maintenance should be carried out by a professional who is skilled in this area.
The HSE recommends that all portable electrical apparatus should be visually inspected at least once each term or more regularly if the environment or the nature of its use suggests this. All earthed portable equipment should be subject to a detailed inspection and test at a frequency dependent on the use of the equipment determined by a competent person. A written record of the tests should be maintained and available for inspection and the equipment itself should be marked with some form of identification.
The NUT correctly quote the HSE who say that fixed electrical installations should be inspected by a competent person at least every five years. More frequent inspection and testing will be necessary if the installations are subject to damage and abuse or if the installation is in an adverse environment.
You can find this NUT briefing on their website.
Intersafe have been delivering tailored solutions and safeguarding organisations for 20 years. They are specialist in Periodic Testing and Inspection, Portable Appliance Testing and Thermal Imaging. Contact Stephanie by calling 02380 610101 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment.