The importance of safety around water and electrical equipment

Posted By : Anna Flockett
The importance of safety around water and electrical equipment

Recently highlighted on the news and radio this week, the incident of a girl drowning due to an electric shock has brought a lot of attention, and Mark Coles, Head of Technical Regulations at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) wants to outline the importance of using a registered electrical installer to avoid the dangers from electricity and water.

Mark Coles, Head of Technical Regulations at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), said: “Areas where water and electrical installations come together, such as bathrooms, swimming pools and marinas, inevitably mean heightened danger – so it’s important people are aware of the risks and take appropriate action.

“The most important thing to remember is that electrical installations need to be correctly designed, installed and maintained to ensure they are safe for use. So, when you need electrical work carried out, always choose an electrical installer that is registered on a Competent Person Scheme. Anyone can install a piece of wire to make a light work, but if the existing circuit is dangerous then the user is left in even more danger than before work began. It’s vital to have regular checks of electrical installations by a registered electrical installer to ensure the installation is as safe at it can be.

“When it comes to swimming pools, reputable operators will have had the electrical installation designed and installed by approved installers as the law requires swimming pool operators to protect the health and safety of workers and pool users. The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 requires that the installation is correctly designed, installed and maintained to ensure it is safe for use. But if you have any concerns about the electrical safety of a swimming pool then speak to the manager or the person in charge of the facility and ask for reassurance that the proper procedures have been followed.”

Coles continued: “If you have a concern about the electrical installation at an open swimming area, such as a public lake or seaside, then the first thing to do would be to keep well clear of the area. Next alert the owner of the electrical installation (where known) or the local authority.

“Hot tubs and spa pools are becoming more and more popular and are a common sight in gardens but not every situation is suitable for such appliances. Again, if the installation you are connecting to is dangerous, simply connecting a hot tub or spa pool to a nearby socket-outlet is only extending the danger. The advice from the IET is to buy equipment from a reputable seller to ensure it meets UK standards, and have the electrical installation checked by a registered installer to ensure the site is suitable and the electrical installation is safe for use for this purpose and in this environment.

“Generally, UK electrical installations follow the requirements of the IET Wiring Regulations – BS 7671. Installations at swimming pools and marinas take into account the increased risk of the environment and have special devices (RCDs) which switch off the electrical current before it reaches a dangerous level. This, of course, highlights the need to choose a registered electrical installer to design and install and then have the installation regularly inspected and tested to ensure ongoing safety. As a rule of thumb, the electrical installation in an occupier-owned house or flat should be inspected and tested within ten years of installation; in a privately rented dwelling this figure is reduced to five years.”


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