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Electrical Safety

Electrical Safety.

Introduction

All electrical work should be installed in accordance with the Regulations for Electrical Installations issued by the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE), current edition, under British Standard BS7671.

Electrical contractors enrolled with the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) or the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) should be employed for work in church buildings.

Inspection and Testing

It is recommended that churches have their hard wire and fixed wire electrical installations inspected and tested every five years and this will usually be stated by your insurer as a requirement. An Electrical Installation Condition Report should be carried out in accordance with IET regulations (17th Edition—amendment 3) came into force on 1st January 2015.

Local trustees (usually the Elders Meeting) should ensure that a thorough physical examination of all portable appliances is carried out regularly to ensure that worn flexes, broken plugs or sockets etc. are replaced immediately. A schedule of how and when inspection should be carried out is included on page 4. Further information on testing portable appliances is available in the Health and Safety Executive publication ‘Maintaining portable electrical equipment in low-risk environments’: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg236.pdf

Organs

The organ can present a hazard if not cared for properly.

Lights provided for illuminating the music desk or internally to facilitate inspection of the instrument should only be installed by a qualified electrician using permanent wiring.

If a portable electric heater is required for the organist it should be of the convector or fan assisted type fitted with a thermostatic cut-out that operates in the event of overheating.

The electric organ blower is frequently overlooked as is the specialised humidifying apparatus that often sits alongside the blowing equipment. The electric organ blower should be examined at regular maintenance intervals by a qualified electrician and the inspection, maintenance or repair of pipe organs should only be entrusted to an experienced professional organ builder. Please note that the blower enclosure may contain asbestos and this should be noted on your asbestos register, or removed under controlled conditions if necessary.

Temporary Wiring

Temporary or extension wiring should only be allowed in exceptional circumstances. All temporary circuits should be physically disconnected from the mains when not in use.

Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

The Electricity at Work Regulations have a wide application and apply to most churches. They require that electrical installations are safe and regularly checked by a qualified electrician working to the current IET regulations (BS7671). Under no circumstances should an untrained person attempt any electrical work. The Health and Safety Executive guidance notes indicate that even the changing of a light bulb or replacing a fuse should be left to trained individuals.

Electrical Installations – Part P

Part P of the Building Regulations affect all churches that have manse property or other residential property including flats within church buildings. If you are planning to extend or alter the electrical installation you must comply with Part P. This is not restricted to wholesale rewire and includes such items as providing extra sockets or adding new ceiling lights.

Since the 1st January 2005 work carried out in dwellings should be notified to a Building Control body, unless the work is being carried out by a competent person. See 2013 edition Part P of the Building Regulations 2010.

When any electrical work is carried out the trustees (elders) should ensure that a competent NICEIC approved contractor is employed.

Table for Testing Portable Appliances

Equipment / environment User checks Formal visual inspection Combined inspection and test
IT – Desktop computer etc. No Yes, 2-4 years No if double insulated
Photocopiers, fax machines (rarely moved) No Yes, 2-4 years No if double insulated
Double insulated (Class II) equipment. Not hand-held. Moved occasionally, eg fans, table lamps No Yes, 2-4 years No
Double insulated (Class II) equipment: hand-held, eg some floor cleaners, some kitchen equipment Yes Yes, 6 months – 1 year No
Earthed equipment (class 1): Electric kettles, some floor cleaners, some kitchen equipment Yes Yes, 6 months – 1 year Yes 1-2 years
Cables (leads and plugs to all equipment) and mains voltage extension leads and battery-charging equipment Yes Yes 6 months—4 years depending on the type of equipment it is connected to Yes, 1-5 years depending on the type of equipment it is connected to.

Over time, when you look at the results of user checks, visual inspections and, where appropriate, portable appliance tests, you will notice trends. These may tell you that you need to look at or test electrical equipment less (or more) often, depending on the number of problems being found. Some examples of how to do this can be found at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/electricity/faq-portab;e-appliance-testing.htm

A large print version of this document is available upon request. Contact Synod Office: 020 7799 5000

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