With Christmas just around the corner, office workers all over the country will be searching dusty cupboards for last years’ decorations, spending hours untangling knotted wires and twiddling with tiny lamps – getting ready to add a festive ambience to their workspace. It’s the time of year also, when health and safety officers come out in a cold sweat as they think of all the potential hazards – from fire and electric shocks, to falling off swivel chairs and tripping over cables – that can accompany the bedecking of an office with things that twinkle and flash.
Anything involving electricity needs to be treated with respect, and while we certainly don’t want to put a dampener on things (the Litenow HQ will be lit up along with the best of them), we’ve thought we’d put together some simple tips to help ensure that your office illuminations get ‘oohs and ahs’ – not ‘ouches and bangs’.
- Only ever use IP rated equipment outdoors
If you’re fixing lighting outdoors, it’s essential that all electrical equipment like socket outlets, leads and plugs are properly rated for external use. Items marked IP65 and IP68 are suitable for outdoor use.
- Don’t rely on extension leads
Avoid using extension leads if possible, and if you do have to use one, keep it as short as you can. If you use a roll up lead, be sure to extend it fully before switching on to avoid any danger of the cable overheating.
- Don’t overload sockets
Using adaptors and extension leads can overload a socket and significantly increase the risk of fire. Plugs and extension leads should be checked to ensure that fuses are correctly rated.
- Use suitable access equipment
Only ever use suitable access equipment. Ladders and access platforms must be thoroughly examined to ensure they are safe for use. (All Litenow engineers are trained in the safe use of a variety of equipment including scissor lifts, telescopic masts and booms, ladders and mobile access platforms – and our own cherry picker vehicles have a regular LOLER safety inspection).
- Use LED lamps
LED lamps use considerably less energy than standard incandescent lamps, and are far more reliable. They perform well in the cold and are particularly suited to the UK winter weather. In addition, they’re more robust than old style filament lamps – so are more likely to work when they are hauled out for another festive season!
- Always use CE marked equipment
Only buy electrical items that display the CE stamp of approval. Many cheaper electrical items – particularly Christmas light sets, are made in the Far East, and don’t conform to the strict EU guidelines for electrical safety.
- Don’t create a trip hazard
Electrical cables should be routed to ensure that safe pedestrian and vehicle access is maintained at all times.
- Make sure equipment and cabling are fitted securely
All equipment and cables must be securely fixed and supported. This will avoid cables becoming damaged – and ensure there is no danger of pedestrians or vehicles becoming entangled.
- Use suitable external connection points
Don’t connect to indoor sockets and run cables through doorways or windows. Doing this will increase the potential for cable damage – and compromise the security of your premises. Always connect to a socket outlet that’s protected by a residual current device. This will ensure that the electrical supply is isolated in the event of an earth leakage fault.
Follow these guidelines and the only surprises you’ll get this Christmas will be ones that come gift wrapped!
Did you realise that retro-fitting an energy efficient lighting solution in your business can reduce your lighting overheads by 40%? Call us now to find out more – and you’ll have more money to spend on next year’s Christmas lights!