Keeping tenants safe and delivering effective electrical compliance is a top priority for all social landlords. In this article I will be discussing the part we all can play to maintain a high standard of electrical safety and some of the things you can look out for. I will be focusing on the practical measures of routine visual inspections rather than the organisational procedures.
A variety of staff will be in and out of properties or in daily contact with tenants, such as Housing Officers, Income Officers, Estate Officers, Maintenance Operatives, Call Centre Staff and Voids Officers. This gives ample opportunity to intervene or simply give advice to tenants on a variety of issues.
Having a basic awareness of electrical safety will allow staff to pick up on and report issues before an accident can occur. In some cases tenants will not call in with repairs. This can be for a number of reasons but generally speaking if the tenant is living in desperate conditions, the last thing they will think of is to pick up the phone to call in a broken switch or socket.
Whilst carrying out a stock condition survey, fire risk assessment update or void inspection there will be plenty of opportunity to visually inspect the condition of the electrical installation. However any member of staff who is visiting a property should have a level of awareness and the confidence to be able to report on repairs they may come across. Some in-house training or external training such as CORGI’s Level 2 Electrical Safety Awareness in Social Housing would be a good starting point for staff.
Below is a short video which identifies the common parts of an electrical installation and details some of the things that housing staff can look out for when in a property. This is by no means exhaustive but gives an idea of some of the things to keep an eye out for.
Some of the main things that anyone could look out for would be as follows:
- Wear and tear / deterioration
- Breakages or damage
- Missing parts (covers, screws, labels)
- Loose fixings
- Signs of overheating
- Ensuring previously reported defects have been rectified
Now just to be clear, this is not a recommendation for non-maintenance staff to be interacting with installations. It is however a good thing to stay ‘switched on’ to the dangers that might be present in a property. Maintenance surveyors may feel more confident to check the test button on an RCD or test the functionality of a mains switch.
Tenants themselves have a valuable part to play as well from reporting repairs to being aware of the dangers of faulty appliances or overloading sockets. Some common dangers that are directly attributable to the tenant lifestyle and choices could include:
- Cluttered electrical cupboards
- Inappropriate storage and charging of mobility scooters in sheltered courts
- Use of cheap foreign unregulated electrical goods
- Running extension cables to outbuildings
- Unqualified individuals carrying out unauthorised electrical alterations
- Bypassing the electrical meter
A greater awareness may allow staff to recognise and identify basic hazards whilst in a property and then relay this information on allowing for preventative maintenance. Having a good electrical policy and procedure will stand any organisation on good stead. Buttressing this with staff that know what to look out for and feel confident to raise concerns as they arise will certainly contribute to a high standard of electrical safety in socially rented properties.
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