Are you renting or managing a property?
To all homeowners, landlords and estate managers – do you really understand the dangers of electricity?
Electricity can damage property, severely injure or worse still – kill someone.
It’s a source of energy that should be respected, tested and worked with by a competent person with suitable training. A qualified person with the skill and knowledge for electrical tasks to be undertaken to prevent injury to themselves and others - an electrician.
Did you know that a voltage as low as 50 volts applied between two parts of the human body causes a current to flow that can block the electrical signals between the brain and the muscles?
No? Well, you do now and it’s worth remembering that next time you try to replace an electrical socket by yourself to save money on a property that you are renting out or managing.
It’s easy to forget the obvious, the dangers and the simple facts about working with electricity - it‘s good to have a reminder now and then. Use an electrician – in the long run, it saves time, costs or even a life! So what are the serious considerations when working with electricity? There is the risk of electric shock and burns from contact with live parts. Possible injuries from exposure to fire from faulty electrical equipment, installations or explosions caused by unsuitable electrical apparatus or static electricity igniting flammable liquids, vapours or dust. Yes, even dust!
Hopefully, now you appreciate the importance of making sure a property is safe and at regulatory standards before you can rent it to someone or manage it for someone.
Here is a list of important considerations and reminders when working with electricity. Or renting and managing a property where there is a use of electricity:
• Do you have building insurance? • Do you understand and know the health and safety regulations? • Have you had an assessment made of any electrical hazards that could be in the building? • Who could be harmed by them, what is the level of risk and what precautions can you take to control that risk?
A risk assessment should be done on the type of electrical equipment to be used, the way it will be used and the environment it will be used in. You must make sure that the electrical installation and the electrical equipment is: • Suitable for its intended use and the conditions in which it is operated • Only used for its intended purpose In wet surroundings, unsuitable equipment can become live and make its surroundings live too. Fuses, circuit-breakers and other devices must be correctly rated for the circuit they protect. Isolators and fuse-box cases should be kept closed and if possible, locked. Cables, plugs, sockets and fittings must be robust enough and adequately protected for the working environment. Ensuring that machinery has an accessible switch or isolator to cut off the power quickly in an emergency.
Your responsibilities don’t stop there. Maintenance is essential, as far as is reasonably practical.
• Make sure that electrical equipment and installations are maintained to prevent danger • Remove equipment from use immediately when faulty especially if the plug or connector is damaged and when a cable is not secure or internal wires are visible • Take away electrical equipment with burn marks or stains - those could be signs of overheating
Note: All electrical repairs should be carried out by someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience. Frequent checks should be done for items more likely to become damaged - things that are regularly moved, or used frequently. Consider whether electrical equipment, including portable appliances, should be formally inspected or tested by a competent person and think about the intervals that it should be done.
Arrangements should be made for inspecting and testing fixed wiring installations. For example, circuit breakers, switches, sockets and wired in equipment like an oven.
The key things to remember when renting or managing a property:
• Ensure users know how to use the equipment safely • Test equipment • Make sure enough sockets are available – check outlets are not overloaded • Ensure there are no trailing cables that can cause people to trip or fall • Switch off and unplug appliances before cleaning or adjusting them • Ask users to look for signs of hazards • Display signs where caution may be required • Have building insurance and document everything – don’t forget photographs! • Register electrical purchases • Keep receipts and warranties • Keep up to date with laws and regulations
Ask yourself, would you feel safe staying in that property?
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