Event Electrical Safety
The HSE’s resource on electrical safety is a great starting point when managing electrical safety, including their FAQ
Most events will require the use of electricity, either from mains supplies or from temporary sources like generators.
Electricity can be a major hazard that can cause major injuries and fires and so special attention needs to be paid to ensuring that all possible control measures have been implemented.
Your Duties as an Event Organiser
“Event organisers, contractors and others using electrical equipment must do all that is reasonably practicable to ensure that electrical installations and equipment at an event are properly selected, installed and maintained so as not to cause death or injury. – Health and Safety Executive“
For more general information, see the HSE resources for event electrical safety including – Electrical safety at places of entertainmentIt is important that you only take responsibility for risk assessing areas for which you have the knowledge, skills, experience or training to manage. This is especially important when dealing with high risk hazards like electricity.
If you are untrained then you may feel that you only have enough knowledge to risk assessment basic domestic electrical systems eg. equipment that has existing plugs that plug into 4-way extension cables etc.
If the scope extends beyond just plugging existing equipment in then you need to demonstrate your competency with a qualification from an accredited training organisation. You should then use this training to risk assess the hazards associated with installing an electrical system on a site specific basis.
Where a subcontractor is installing an electrical system for you, ensure that they provide you with evidence of their training along with risk assessments for the work they are undertaking.
Power for a Small Exhibition Stand
For example if you were managing a small exhibition stand build where you had a range of computers and demonstration equipment and the venue was supplying then you should consider the following areas when doing your risk assessments:
- How do I know the equipment I’m plugging in is safe? Has it been recently tested or checked (eg. PAT Test)
- Are all the cables & plugs intact with no visible damage or missing parts.
- Has the electrical supply I’m plugging into been provided by a competent person and does it have standard safety equipment like RCDs? Has the competent person confirmed that it has enough capacity for the load I intend to draw from it?
- Could anything cause damage to the cables during the build / event eg. vehicle running over them?
- Is there any combustible material (eg. paper waste) being stored near any of the electrical distribution that could cause a fire hazard if the distribution or cable overheats?
Mains Power Distribution
BS7909 has been produced by the HSE specially for temporary power installation, Richmond council have produced useful guidelines based on the regulations. BS7909 includes guidelines for different electrical environments & situations ranging from small to large installations.
It includes guidelines on standards & checks that your electrical contractor should be working to.
The guidelines put an emphasis on the Principle Contractor to have an electrical system signed off by a senior person responsible (SPR), who has to be electrically competent.
If your event is being held in a permanent venue or in an urban area then the chances are that you will be able to access mains power to run your event. This is can then distributed down to the relevant equipment.
You may decide to engage a subcontractor to manage all your power distribution for you in which case they should provide the risk assessments and other safety documentation (power layout & distribution plans) for you to check. Your risk assessments in this situation just need to cover the measures that you taking to ensure that:
- Your subcontractor managing your power distribution is competent and is taking appropriate measures to assess the risks involved and implement control measures
- All workers on site are are briefed and aware of the control measures.
If you are managing your own power distribution – or you are checking your subcontractor’s paperwork – then areas that you might want to consider include:
- Are the technicians installing it suitably trained and experienced?
- Has all the equipment (including distribution boxes & cables) been regularly inspected and tested to ensure it’s free from defects?
- Does the distribution have adequate RCD and other relevant safety measures in place?
- Does the mains supply have adequate capacity for the amount of equipment you intend to power from it?
- What emergency power might be required (eg. emergency lighting etc)
- What is the layout of the site and how can the mains cable runs be kept away from pedestrians and/or vehicle traffic?
- Environmental conditions -eg. if you are outdoors and it might rain, are all the power distribution elements properly designed & IP rated
Temporary Power Supplies & Distribution
If you are using generators to provide your event power then in addition to the above you might also consider:
- Are the generators properly maintained and are they fit for purpose?
- How will the generators be earthed?
- What backup generators are being supplied for critical systems eg. lighting, first aid points, communications etc?
- How will the generators be refuelled? Will fuel be stored onsite?
- Can the generators be positioned a safe distance away from public, structures or other combustible materials?
- How will access to the generators be restricted from authorised people?