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Domestic devices are workplace risk

Domestic devices are workplace risk

UK employees are exposing themselves to unnecessary risks by bringing electrical items from home into the workplace without having them safety checked, according to a new survey. Two out of five staff members admitted to plugging in devices ranging from mobile phone chargers and hair straighteners to fairy lights and power tools, the poll of 2,000 employees by insurance firm RSA revealed. Electrical goods brought from home are subject to the same regulations as employer-owned items, but more than half (54%) of the staff quizzed confessed they had not had theirs safety checked before using them at work.

Almost one in 10 said a device they brought to work had burst into flames, with 9% suffering a personal injury such as a burn or electric shock – with over a third (34%) of those requiring a hospital trip. Gary Long, director of RSA's UK risk managed business, said: “These items are often side-stepping the recommended safety checks, exposing employees to potential fire hazards or personal injury such as burns and electric shocks.” Mr Long added that it is crucial employers have the correct policies and checks in place, and that employees are fully-briefed on regulations regarding electrical items and how to respond in the event of an injury or emergency. Commenting, IBB Solicitors say:

"The survey findings illustrate that UK employees are putting themselves at risk of fire and personal injury as a result of bringing personal electrical items into work without getting them safety checked. Worryingly, over half of the employees questioned admitted that the goods had not been safety checked. Such personal items are subject to the same regulations as employer-owned electrical items. With figures showing that 8%of such devices had caught fire at work and 9% stating that they had suffered a personal injury the importance of safety checking such items is clearly apparent. Employees should take extra caution. If they do feel the need to bring such items into work they should ensure that the devices are safety checked to avoid the risk of harm and ensure that they do no breach regulations."

IBB Partner Malcolm Underhill added:

"Employers should be more active in their testing of electrical goods, making it clear to employees that if they bring in personal items to work, those electrical items must also be available for testing. Although there is no legal requirement to label equipment that has been inspected or tested, and nor is there a requirement to keep records of these activities, it is clearly sensible to record and/or label. This can be developed into a useful management tool for monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of the maintenance scheme – and to demonstrate that a scheme exists. However, the worry is that with the Government committed to reducing "red tape" for businesses, there is a risk that employers will not be as active in this areas, as might be hoped. The results could be serious for injured members of staff and reduction in productivity. The alternative to testing of all electrical goods, is to inform employees that they should not bring personal electrical items to work, for the safety of themselves and other workers."

IBB Solicitors has built a reputation for quality of service in pursuing compensation in cases involving accident, illness or death. If you would like advice on personal injury issues, you can contact a member of IBB's Personal Injury team: call us on 08456 381381 or email PI@ibblaw.co.uk.