Electrical safety: what you need to know

There are certain areas of our homes where electricity is used more than others or where it can be more dangerous. We need to pay special attention to electrical safety in these areas. But we should also always be aware of electrical safety when setting up electricity in a new home and outdoors.
Last update: May 2021

Electricity can cause serious injury such as burns and shocks, and can even lead to death in serious instances. So, we need to make sure we are always electrically safe in the home.

What is electrical safety?

Electrical safety is the system of measures and technical means we put in place to keep us safe from the harmful effects of electricity while safely using its power in the home.

Electrical Safety

What is the most important rule of electrical safety?

The golden rule of electrical safety is to use your common sense. That means always thinking about safety, even when it does not seem like there is much risk. Think about the environment in which the electricity is working, are there any dangers or fire risks? Is there water nearby that could be hazardous? Are you exposed to any live currents?

Most importantly of all, if you’re in any doubt, switch off the power and call a registered electrician. They will be able to resolve any issues that you have safely and securely.

Why is electrical safety important?

Electrical safety is important because we take electricity for granted, switching on lights and using appliances without a second thought for the energy that they use. But it is a very powerful force and when not harnessed correctly it can cause a lot of damage. This includes personal injury and death as we mentioned above, but also damage to property through fire and overheating.

Even a small electrical fault can cause a lot of damage in a short space of time, so we need to be aware of any potential problems.

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Safety considerations when using electrical equipment

Below is a list of important general safety considerations to keep in mind when there is electricity around.

  1. Avoid water at all times when working with electricity
  2. Never use equipment with frayed cords, damaged insulation or a broken plug
  3. Never put fingers or other objects in an outlet
  4. Never pull a plug out by its cord

Safety rules when using electrical equipment in the kitchen
There are more specific safety considerations to keep in mind in the kitchen, including:

  1. Never leave electrical appliances like dishwashers or washing machines running unattended
  2. Check that flexible leads and appliances such as kettles and toasters are in good condition
  3. Don’t wrap flexible cables around any equipment when still warm
  4. Don’t try to clean or repair an appliance while it is still plugged in
  5. Make sure you thoroughly clean your oven and grill as fat and grease are a major cause of fires
  6. Check plug sockets are not overloaded with too many appliances as this can lead to overheating

Safety practices and procedures when wiring and testing electrical equipment

When working on anything electrical you should remember the following:

  1. If you are working on any electrical appliance always turn off the mains. It’s also a good idea to put up a sign up so that nobody turns the mains switch on by accident
  2. Always use insulated tools while working
  3. Electrical hazards include exposed energized parts and unguarded electrical equipment. This may become energized unexpectedly
  4. Always use appropriate insulated rubber gloves and goggles while working
  5. Never try repairing energized equipment
  6. Never use an aluminium or steel ladder

Safety precautions when using electrical equipment

A combination of all of the above safety advice should be used when using any electrical equipment. Follow the rules and use common sense and you will minimise the risk.

How much does an electrical safety check cost

A Landlord Electrical Safety Report Certificate is technically a report. However, it is generally referred to as a certificate. You should expect to pay between £100 to £230 for a flat and £150 to £300 for a house, depending on the size.

How long does an electrical safety check take?

For a normal property with wiring in reasonable condition you should expect a test to take between two and four hours.

Electrical safety when buying a house.

Never assume that all properties on the market have a safe electrical installation. This is simply not true. The only way you can be 100% sure that the electrics in your new home are safe before you move in is to have an electrical inspection report carried out. This should be done by a professional and licensed electrician.

How to get an electrical safety certificate

Any registered electrician can provide a landlord electrical safety certificate. The price for inspection will depend on the property’s size, as mentioned above. Registered electricians are required to work to the UK national safety standard (BS 7671).

The certificate that they provide you with confirms that their work is in keeping with this and the property has been legally inspected. You can find electricians online or buy asking for a recommendation from a trusted source.

Electrical Safety

How long is an electrical safety certificate valid for?

Generally, the certificate is valid for a maximum of five years or until the change of occupancy, whichever happens sooner. However it is up to the tester to specify the amount of time it is valid for. This will be based on the test results, experience and judgement of the electrician carrying out the test.

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Updated on 23 Jul, 2021

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