All businesses, regardless of their size, have a responsibility to protect their employees by ensuring their electrical system and installation are safe and working correctly.
A fire alarm, for example, will be useless in an emergency if the smoke detector is defunct or the alarm isn’t audible which is why it is crucial companies plan for regular maintenance of their electrical system or installations in order to reduce that risk.
It is simply not enough to rely on an office/warehouse caretaker alone to take on this role because in the event of an incident your business will be liable if you cannot prove your electrical testing procedures were carried out by an experienced and qualified electrical contractor with the right paperwork…
All businesses are legally required to carry out periodic testing and inspection of the key components of their fire alarm and electrical system including fire sensors, bells, and smoke alarms. If you breach these health and safety regulations, not only are you likely to receive a hefty fine from the Health and Safety Executive, you could also invalidate your insurance – leaving you with little hope of any settlement.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires all employers to undertake a fire risk assessment of their commercial premises whether it is used by the public or not. This incorporates responsibility for maintaining all electrical installations within a building, including fire alarm systems.
Nick Walls, Managing Director of Manchester-based electrical contractor Walls Electrical, said: “Fire alarms should be tested weekly by the person or department responsible for health and safety within this workplace however these checks should always be in addition to the routine maintenance carried out by a professional electrical contractor who can detect hidden problems which could result in failure later down the line.
“Like any electrical appliance, smoke detectors can become dusty and wear down over time which is why it’s essential to keep on top of any problems. Electrical maintenance is not a cost which can be stripped back in the current economic climate. If you cannot provide documented evidence of a fire alarm maintenance programme in the event of an injury then you will be liable for prosecution.”
Fire alarms should be tested quarterly or every six months by a professional electrical contractor in addition to weekly checks in-house.
During electrical testing, engineers will assess the main panel, batteries, heat detectors, smoke detectors, sirens and break glass units to ensure they are properly functioning. The certification you receive will give you peace of mind that your staff are safe and will act as your mitigation in the event of an incident.