Social Housing Management: Writing Electrical Safety Policies

I recently completed writing the electrical safety policy and procedure for my organisation with assistance from colleagues. It was a key priority for me after completing the Level 4 qualification in Electrical Safety Management in Social Housing. This now gives a benchmark to work from and improve on. In this blog I am going to outline some tips on creating electrical safety policies for social housing. I will not be going into detail of the specific requirements, more so the overarching considerations that need to be made.

Now the first thing to mention is that there is no point reinventing the wheel, if you are in the same position the first thing to do would be to consult with colleagues from other organisations. If you do not have a good network then just a simple google search can bring up a variety of electrical safety policies from across the UK. This will give you a template to work from to tailor to the needs of your organisation (bearing in mind some of the regional legislative differences.)

When writing a new policy or procedure, an important aspect is knowing how things work currently so that you will know what will constitute a change to the status quo. For example if you write in that portable appliances are going to be tested on a risk based frequency but you currently have an annual inspection scheme set up, who will be carrying out the risk assessments, how will training be delivered to staff and will this actually save money. Any change should be justifiable and backed up with logic as change for the sake of change will be met with resistance.

There is no point having a policy and procedure that does not reflect the reality on the ground so honesty and practicality are going to play a part as well as accepting that some things may need to adapt and improve.

Involvement

Getting everyone involved that may be impacted by the policy is important as well as they will be able to impart valuable knowledge and insight. We have both an in house electrical qualified supervisor and health and safety consultant so I was able to harness their valuable knowledge to ensure we were covering all major points.

Any change to the current working procedure needs to be carefully considered because ultimately the rest of the staff will need to work to this change and implement it. Changes to working practice can have contractual and cost implications if for example you are looking to increase the frequency of inspecting for electrical installations or increase the percentage of fixtures and fittings tested during an EICR.

You may have overarching goals that you want to achieve from the policy if you are already aware of areas that need improvement. The main objectives I sought out were as follows:

  • to set out a clear approach for the maintenance and upgrading of electrical installations;
  • ensure a prompt, efficient and cost effective electrical installation, repair, servicing and inspection service;
  • ensure legal compliance;
  • promote good practice;
  • ensure remedial works are carried out within appropriate timescales so that homes remain safe and electrical installations are maintained to a high standard;
  • detail a comprehensive electrical inspection and monitoring system;
  • ensure adequate records and quality monitoring systems are implemented.

Competence

Regulation 16 of the Electricity at Work Regulations emphasises the necessity of individuals to be competent to prevent danger or injury. Competence is shown by having the adequate technical knowledge and experience for a work activity to prevent danger or injury and having appropriate supervision as required for the nature of the work. The HSE publication HSR 25 provides guidance on the technical knowledge, experience and supervision that are required to comply with the regulations.

Including in the policy a commitment to the above is a positive step. The procedure may include a method to achieve this, for example regularly reviewing and monitoring the qualifications of contractors employees using a training matrix.

Auditing and reviewing the quality of work is another way to ensure high standards are being adhered to. This can be done in various ways such as:

  • Post inspection of a percentage of works in line with service standards;
  • Internal audit of a selection of certificates by an electrically skilled member of staff;
  • Self-assessment and quality assurance by the contractor;
  • Tenant feedback and satisfaction surveys
  • External audit by a suitably qualified individual/ company

IT Systems

Consideration of the current IT systems is also important. When looking at the current system you have in place it might throw up questions such as:

  • How are the electrical certificates currently stored
  • Are the certificates hand written or digital
  • Do you need to consider document compliance software
  • Are the certificates easily accessible to staff and contractors
  • Could you easily report on compliance if required
  • Do your IT systems ‘talk to each other’

CDMS

There is a boatload that I have not covered in this blog but hopefully it has been of some utility to those who are considering updating or creating an electrical safety policy for a small to medium sized organisation. I think Corgi’s Level 4 qualification in Electrical Safety Management in Social Housing is a good place to start to assist you in gaining the adequate knowledge to embark in this challenge.

Another good start would also be to join an industry forum such as the electrical safety roundtable or joing a membership organisation like the Association of Electrical Safety Managers (AESM) and the broader Association of Safety & Compliance Professionals (ASCP).

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