Employees bringing in their own electrical appliances

Peninsula Team

November 18 2012

Employees have been bringing in their own electrical appliances into the workplace, is this something I should be concerned about, especially for the safety of other employees?
Almost everyone knows that electrical equipment used in the course of work must be manufactured to current standards and be safe for its intended use. To avoid the risk of electric shock fixed and portable electrical equipment must be maintained so that it remains safe for use.

Fixed electrical installations must be examined and tested by a competent qualified electrical contractor according to a schedule set out in the “Wiring Regulations”. Different frequencies apply to different premises according to exposure and use of the equipment and the risk of harm to people.

Portable and transportable electrical equipment, hand tools, kettles, hand-lamps, printers, vacuum cleaners etc also need to be looked after and their electrical safety maintained. Almost everyone has knowledge of PAT testing (Portable Appliance Testing), often believing that it has to carried out as a formally recorded test at least once every year. This as we have said time and time again is not true. Checks can be done in house and an annual test is not always required. The checks required and their frequency depend entirely on the use of the equipment, how often it is moved in practice, the wear and tear to which it is subjected and the risk to people using it.

Our clients have access to detailed guidance on these issues in their health and safety management systems. If they follow the advice they will take a sensible approach; their equipment will be maintained and checked at an appropriate frequency. They will not be over-burdened by the requirement and will not face completely unnecessary overheads and costs.

In this process employers need to take account of any electrical equipment brought into work by members of their workforce. If it is used, it is work equipment and the employer is responsible for ensuring its safety. More often than not this equipment is brought in by workers for their personal convenience and comfort. It commonly includes kettles, toasters, microwave ovens, portable heaters and fans. They are often appliances that have just been replaced or are unwanted at home, sometimes at the end of their useful life.

To avoid the risks from this second-hand, untested equipment most employers have an outright ban on their use. If the equipment really is necessary for the welfare and comfort of the workforce it should have been provided by the employer. By providing the equipment the employer retains full control over its use and its maintenance.

However, if an employer chooses to let employees use their own electrical appliances they must accept full responsibility for its maintenance and safety. They must include it in their portable appliance testing arrangements. If it is used in the course of your business the enforcing authorities and personal injury lawyers will not accept the excuse “it’s not mine”.

For any further clarification, please call our 24 Hour Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.

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