Electrical inspections and safety

Poorly maintained electrical equipment and fires started by faulty appliances and installations can lead to serious injury or fatalities.

Risk assessments

You need to carry out a risk assessment and make sure that all electrical systems, wiring, switchgear, fixed machinery (e.g. organ blower motors) and portable electrical appliances are well designed, in good condition and properly maintained.

Requirements

It is recommended that fixed electrical installations are inspected and tested every 5 years in accordance with IET wiring regulations and an inspection certificate obtained in every case.

Any work required on the installation should only be undertaken by contractors registered with the National Inspection Council of Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) or the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA).

Portable electrical equipment should be inspected on a regular basis, ensure that worn flexes, broken plugs/sockets etc are replaced immediately.

Maintaining portable electrical equipment in offices and other low risk environments provides further guidance.

Most licensing authorities require one of the following forms of protection as a condition of either a stage play licence or an entertainment licence, either:

  • Every socket outlet circuit should be protected by a residual current device having a rated residual operating current not exceeding 30 mA; or
  • Every individual socket outlet should be protected by an integral residual current device having a rated residual operating current not exceeding 30 mA. Advice should be sought from a qualified electrician.

 

The use of non-fused multi-point adapters must be avoided. It is strongly advised that you have one plug for each socket. If fused multi-point adaptors are used, ensure that the capacity is not exceeded.

Circuits should be switched off at the mains when the building is closed, except those in use over a 24-hour period such as fridges and freezers.

Extension leads or temporary wiring should only be utilised as a last resort. All temporary wiring must be disconnected from the mains sockets when not in use, not just turned off. In order to avoid overheating, coiled extension or wander leads must be fully extended before being used.

For more information visit www.hse.gov.uk/electricity/index.htm

It is recommended that churches do not use protective socket covers. These are widely used due to the belief that their use protects young children, but this is not the case.

There is no standard for their construction with many having oversize ‘pins’ to hold the cover firmly in the socket. This can lead to damage and distortion of the contacts in the socket, which could lead to poor contact when using an appliance, which could cause potential arching and fire.

Some covers can be a loose fit, making them easy to remove. If a young child removes the cover and reinserts the large pin with the cover upside down, they will have opened the internal safety shutters. Also, if the cover breaks and the large pin remains in the socket, this would leave the smaller socket shutters retracted and the live parts accessible. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has issued further information in this regard

If you’re using these covers, it is recommended you remove them immediately and destroy.

If your church is still using tungsten filament bulbs these should be replaced with fluorescent fittings in areas of close proximity to combustible materials.