Electrical safety in shared or rented accommodation – council landlord bans use of mains extension lead on health and safety grounds
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The HSE ‘Myth Busters Challenge Panel’ Case 406 is the subject of this week’s news update.
‘Health and Safety’ is often incorrectly used as a convenient excuse to stop what are essentially sensible activities going ahead. The Health and Safety Executive has set up an independent panel – the Myth Busters Challenge Panel – to scrutinize such decisions.
The Panel is chaired by the HSE Chair, supported by a pool of independent members who represent a wide range of interests. This includes small businesses, public safety, Trade Unions, the insurance industry and others.
This Panel will look into enquiries regarding the advice given by non-regulators such as insurance companies, health and safety consultants and employers and, quickly assess if a sensible and proportionate decision has been made. They want to make clear that “health and safety” is about managing real risks properly, not being risk averse and stopping people getting on with their lives.
If you think a decision or advice that you have been given in the name of health and safety is wrong, or disproportionate for the activity you are doing, you can contact the panel here: http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/contact-myth-busting.htm. But please note this is not the right route into HSE for raising a concern or complaint about your workplace, or for general enquires. Instead, go here (http://webcommunities.hse.gov.uk/connect.ti/concernsform/answerQuestionnaire?qid=594147) to raise a workplace health and safety concern, here (http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/complaints.htm) to make a complaint, or here (http://webcommunities.hse.gov.uk/connect.ti/advice/answerQuestionnaire?qid=593891) to get advice.
Issue (Case 406)
Local council bans tenant from using a mains extension lead from within his house, citing health and safety reasons.
Health and safety and safety at work legislation does not prevent tenants from using their own extension lead at home for personal use. This seems to be a case of the landlord leading their tenant astray by inappropriately extending health and safety at work legislation to justify their rules. Rather than banning extension leads, the landlord could more appropriately refer tenants to available guidance, for example from Electrical Safety First (http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guides-and-advice/around-the-home/visual-checks/) or the Department for Communities and Local Government Fire safety in shared or rented accommodation (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fire-safety-in-shared-or-rented-accommodation).
The Government guidance advises the following to tenants in respect to electrical safety:
Be extra careful with electrics
- Avoid overloading sockets
- Keep to one plug per socket
- Use a proper adaptor when using a non UK electrical appliance. Never put two prong plugs into three prong sockets
- Don’t use heaters for drying clothes and keep them a safe distance away to avoid them catching fire
- Inform your landlord immediately if you are concerned about the electrics in your property. If you notice burn marks around plugs or cables for example.
- Don’t fix faulty electrics yourself. Inform your landlord or call a qualified electrician.
- An extension lead or adaptor will have a limit to how many amps it can take, so be careful not to overload them to reduce the risk of fire. Appliances use different amounts of power – a television may use a 3 amp plug and a vacuum cleaner a 5 amp plug for example.
For more information, click on the above links or contact us on 07896 016380 or at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll be happy to help.
Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence