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The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

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Explanatory Note

(This note is not part of the Regulations)

These Regulations impose health and safety requirements with respect to electricity at work.

The Regulations impose duties upon employers, self-employed persons, managers of mines and quarries and employees (regulation 3). The duties imposed by the Regulations do not, however, extend to the master or crew of a sea-going ship or to their employer in relation to the normal ship-board activities of a ship’s crew under the direction of the master (regulation 32(a)); nor do those duties extend to any person in relation to any aircraft or hovercraft which is moving under its own power (regulation 32(b)).

The Regulations–

(a)impose requirements with regard to the construction and maintenance of electrical systems (regulation 4(1) and(2));

(b)impose requirements with regard to the carrying out of work activities (including the operation, use and maintenance of electrical systems and work near electrical systems) (regulation 4(3));

(c)impose requirements with regard to the provision of protective equipment (regulation 4(4));

(d)impose requirements with regard to the putting into use of electrical equipment (regulation 5);

(e)impose requirements with regard to the construction and protection of electrical equipment which may reasonably foreseeably be exposed to adverse or hazardous environments (regulation 6);

(f)impose requirements with regard to the insulation and protection of, and the taking of precautions in respect of, conductors (regulation 7);

(g)impose requirements with regard to the taking of precautions to prevent danger in respect of certain conductors (regulation 8);

(h)impose restrictions with regard to the placing of any thing which might give rise to danger in any circuit conductor which is connected to earth or to any other reference point (regulation 9);

(i)impose requirements with regard to the mechanical and electrical suitability for use of joints and connections in electrical systems (regulation 10);

(j)impose requirements with regard to the protection from excess currents of electrical systems (regulation 11);

(k)impose requirements with regard to the availability of suitable means for cutting off the supply of electrical energy to, and the isolation of, electrical equipment which is not itself a source of electrical energy (regulation 12(1)) and (where necessary) the taking of such other precautions as will, so far as reasonably practicable, prevent danger in respect of electrical equipment which is itself a source of electrical energy (regulation 12(3));

(l)impose requirements with regard to the taking of such precautions in respect of electrical equipment which has been made dead in order to prevent danger while work is carried on or near it as will prevent that equipment from becoming electrically charged (regulation 13);

(m)impose restrictions on persons being engaged in work activities on or near certain live conductors (regulation 14);

(n)impose requirements with regard to the provision of adequate working space, adequate lighting and adequate means of access at specified electrical equipment (regulation 15);

(o)impose restrictions with regard to who may be engaged in work activities where technical knowledge or experience is necessary to prevent danger or injury (regulation 16);

(p)impose requirements with regard to the use of film lighting circuits below ground in coal mines (regulation 17(1) andSchedule 1);

(q)impose conditions with regard to the introduction of specified electrical equipment into underground parts of specified safety-lamp mines (regulation 18);

(r)impose requirements with regard to the preparation of plans identifying zones underground in safety-lamp mines where firedamp is likely to occur in quantities sufficient to indicate danger (regulation 19(1)) and specify that only certain electrical equipment may be energised in those zones and deem any lights which may be energised in such zones to be “permitted lights” as defined by section 182(1) of the Mines and Quarries Act 1954 (regulation 19(2)). Among the electrical equipment which may be energised in such zones is that which has been certified in accordance with Council Directive 82/130/EEC (OJ No. L59, 2.3.82, p.10) (which relates to the approximation of the laws of the Member States concerning electrical equipment for use in potentially explosive atmospheres in mines susceptible to firedamp), as adapted to technical progress by Commission Directive 88/35/EEC (OJ No. L64, 10.3.88, p.36);

(s)impose requirements with regard to cutting off the supply of electricity to electrical equipment (or making it safe) when firedamp is found in concentrations exceeding 1.25% by volume in the general body of the air either below ground at, or at specified places on the surface of, mines (regulation 20);

(t)impose restrictions with regard to the taking or use below ground at safety-lamp mines of electric safety-lamps, gas detectors, telephone and signalling equipment and other equipment associated therewith or required for the safety of persons (regulation 21);

(u)impose requirements with regard to the provision and operation of switchgear in respect of electrical equipment which may give rise to danger and which is installed below ground at a mine, but which is supplied from a power source at the surface (regulation 22);

(v)impose a prohibition on the introduction below ground at mines of electrical equipment using oil as a means of cooling, insulation or arc suppression (regulation 23);

(w)impose requirements with regard to the preparation, keeping and display of schematic diagrams and plans of electrical distribution systems and permanently installed electrical equipment at mines (regulation 24);

(x)(in circumstances where, at any place at a mine, electric arc welding is taking place or electrical energy is being generated, transformed or used at a nominal voltage in excess of 125 volts a.c. or 250 volts d.c.) impose requirements with regard to the display of notices giving information on the appropriate first-aid treatment for electric shock and details of what emergency action should be taken in the event of electric shock (regulation 25);

(y)impose restrictions with regard to the introduction below ground at safety-lamp mines of locomotives and vehicles which use electrical storage batteries, either partly or wholly, as a power source (regulation 26);

(z)impose requirements with regard to the use below ground at mines of electrical storage batteries (regulation 27).

The Regulations disapply section 157 of the Mines and Quarries Act 1954 (defence in certain legal proceedings) in relation to any legal proceedings or prosecutions arising out of regulations 18 to 27 and Schedule 1 (regulation 28) and provide a defence in the case of a contravention of certain of the Regulations (regulation 29). The Regulations provide for the issue of certificates of exemption by the Health and Safety Executive (regulation 30). The Regulations also provide that they shall apply outside Great Britain to the extent specified in regulation 31.

The Regulations revoke the instruments specified in Part I of Schedule 2 (regulation 33(1)), modify the enactments and instruments specified in Part II of Schedule 2 (regulation 33(2)) and provide that any reference to the Mines and Quarries Act 1954, the Mines and Quarries (Tips) Act 1969 or the Mines Management Act 1971 in any of those Acts, in regulations made under any of those Acts, or in health and safety regulations, shall be treated as including a reference to these Regulations (regulation 33(3)).

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