In this context, a competent person is someone who has the suitable training, skill, and knowledge for the task to be undertaken to prevent injury to themselves and others.
A successfully completed electrical apprenticeship, with some post-apprenticeship experience, is one way of demonstrating technical competence for general electrical work.
More specialized work, such as maintenance of high-voltage switchgear or control system modification, is almost certainly likely to require additional training and experience.
Key points to remember
Ensure that workers know how to use the electrical equipment safely.
Make sure enough sockets are available. Check that socket outlet are not overloaded by using unfused adaptors as this can cause fires.
Ensure there are no trailing cables that can cause people to trip or fall.
Switch off and unplug appliances before cleaning or adjusting them.
Ensure everyone looks for electrical wires, cables or equipment near where they are going to work and check for signs warning of dangers from electricity (see www.hse.gov.uk/electricity), or any other hazard. Checks should be made around the job, and remember that electrical cables may be within walls, floors and ceilings etc (especially when drilling into these locations).
Make sure anyone working with electricity has sufficient skills, knowledge, and experience to do so. Incorrectly wiring a plug can be dangerous and lead to fatal accidents or fires.
Stop using equipment immediately if it appears to be faulty – have it checked by a competent person.
Ensure any electrical equipment brought to work by employees, or any hired or borrowed, is suitable for use before using it and remains suitable for being maintained as necessary.
Consider using a residual current device (RCD) between the electrical supply and the equipment, especially when working outdoors, or within a wet or confined place – see HSE’s electrical safety at work site (www.hse.gov.uk/electricity).
Overhead electric lines
- Be aware of the dangers of working near or underneath overhead power lines. Electricity can flash over from them, even though machinery or equipment may not touch them.
- Don’t work under them when equipment (eg ladders, a crane jib, a tipper-lorry body or a scaffold pole) could come within a minimum of six meters of a power line without getting advice. Speak to the line owner, eg the electricity company, railway company or tram operator, before any work begins.
- Always assume cables will be present when digging in the street, pavement and/or near buildings.
- Consult local electricity companies and service plans to identify where cables are located.