Approximately 1000 accidents a year involving electricity are reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), of which 30 are fatal. About 25% of these accidents are attributed to the use of portable electrical appliances and, according to the HSE, could have been prevented. These figures show that the use of electricity in workplaces presents many hazards, which, if not suitably controlled, can cause serious and permanent injury. Employers must ensure that electrical systems and equipment are installed, used and adequately maintained to ensure continued safety. Owing to the complexity and technical nature of the subject the information provided addresses the basic principles of electrical safety as it relates to the day-to-day use and maintenance of systems and equipment. The dental team should recognise the extent of their competence and know when to seek expert advice.
- Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974:
Employers have a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the provision and maintenance of plant and equipment that is safe and without risks to health.
- Electricity at Work Regulations 1989:
Employers must ensure that all electrical systems, including high voltage to battery-operated equipment, is constructed and maintained to prevent the risk of injury arising out of work activities.
- Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER):
Employers are required to provide and maintain safe systems and equipment and safe working procedures to ensure that work is carried out safely.
- Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992:
The workplace and the equipment, devices and systems shall be maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999:
Employers must undertake suitable and sufficient assessments of risks to the health and safety of employees and others who may be affected and determine what measures should be taken to comply with duties under other health and safety legislation.
- The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO):
Employers, occupiers or owners of buildings will need to carry out a fire risk assessment to identify the significant fire hazards, evaluate the risks and put suitable and sufficient controls in place to reduce the risk of fire starting.
Hazard identification is the first stage in the risk assessment process; therefore, it is advisable to read Chapter 19 in conjunction with the information presented in this section. Although this section does not cover all the stages of risk assessment, it provides an overview of hazards which lead to failures and recommendations on how to control them. Most electrical systems operate at either 240 or 415 volts; any voltage above 55 volts should be considered potentially fatal. The primary hazards associated with the use of electricit/>