Category Archives: Health and Safety

Modern Slavery: Quick Facts


Modern Slavery: Quick Facts

In England and Wales, modern slavery is defined within the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (and similar legislation within Scotland and Northern Ireland). It includes the following crimes.

  • Slavery (whereby someone exerts ownership over another person).
  • Servitude (where someone is obliged to provide services through coercion and cannot change their position).
  • Forced or compulsory labour (where someone is forced to provide work or services under the fear of a penalty).
  • Human trafficking (arranging or helping someone to travel with the intention of exploiting them on arrival).

Modern slavery, which encompasses forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking, is a heinous crime still taking place in the UK. Perpetrators exploit their victims, using them as a commodity for economic gain. It is often hidden in plain sight, taking place in workplaces such as car washes, construction sites, fields and factories across the country.

Construction is a high-risk industry for modern slavery. The reasons are several-fold. The sector has a high reliance on temporary, agency and migrant workers, and workers are often employed in low-skilled jobs that attract the minimum wage. This type of employment already brings with it a high risk of exploitation, but the industry’s business models exacerbates the situation by relying on tight margins and a race to the bottom when contracting work. This combination can price out high ethical standards, and create an environment that criminality can infiltrate.

This topic covers the supply chain transparency requirements of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, as well as specific information on how slavery can be tackled within construction.

  • In England and Wales, modern slavery is defined within the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (similar legislation exists in Scotland and Northern Ireland). It includes the crimes of slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking.
  • Slavery is found throughout the UK. Victims come from every nationality, including people who are British and those who have a right to work in the UK.
  • The Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires all businesses with an annual turnover of more than £36 million supplying services or goods to the UK to publish an annual statement outlining the steps taken by the business to ensure its supply chains are free from slavery.
  • Although there is no set format for a modern slavery and trafficking statement, the Act defines the minimum requirements and suggests what should be covered.
  • Good practice within supply chains and procurement can help deter and protect against instances of slavery within the supply chain.
  • Organisations should have a clear policy on how to respond to potential cases of slavery.
  • Sector-specific initiatives such as the Construction Protocol are designed to tackle slavery in the construction industry.

Employers’ Duties

  • Under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, and its equivalents in Scotland and Northern Ireland, companies with a turnover of more than £36 million who provide goods or services within the UK are required to publish an annual human slavery and trafficking statement.
  • All companies, regardless of size, have a duty to ensure that they are not complicit in any act of human slavery or trafficking and that their employment practices do not infringe on human rights. They have a moral responsibility to ensure that their supply chains are free from modern slavery.
  • All companies must ensure that employees have a right to work in the UK and that their documentation is valid.

Employees’ Duties

  • Employees should abide by any Codes of Conduct or policies relating to anti-slavery and human trafficking initiatives.
  • To be vigilant at work and, where instances of slavery are suspected, employees should report these to the relevant authorities.


Training is an important part of any programme to raise awareness of modern slavery and to give employees the knowledge and competencies they need to spot the signs, know what to do if modern slavery is suspected, and conduct their work in a way that proactively reduces risk.

It should be carried out at every level within the business — from management to construction site workers — and should be specific to the area of work. Training for procurement professionals, for example, is going to be different to that of site supervisors.

Contact us if you require training or guidance with this topic.


Working at Height Toolbox Talk

Why have this talk? More than one third of accidents that killed workers in 2019–20 were from falls from height. 50% of all falls over 2 metres result in death.

What will this talk cover? The hazards faced and how to prepare if you are working at height.

Working at Height Toolbox Talk

Working at Height Toolbox Talk

What is working at height?

Any work situation where you could fall and injure yourself and others. So it includes working above or below ground level on platforms, trap hatches, on top of vehicles as well as ladders and roofs.

Hazards to consider when working at height

  • The type of work.
  • How many people will be working at height and for how long.
  • Whether there are different access points and bottlenecks.
  • Whether falling objects (such as dropped tools) present a danger.
  • How far is the potential fall and therefore risk of injury.
  • What equipment can mitigate the risk (eg guard rails, toe boards, harnesses) and how often are they inspected/maintained.
  • To what extent the weather (rain, ices, snow, wind, sun) will affect working conditions, surfaces and safety.
  • The competency of the workers involved.
  • Evacuation and emergency procedures.

Before working at height

  • Consider whether the work can be done from the ground, or even if parts of it can be done on the ground.
  • Before any work at height or access onto a roof, fragile materials should be identified, and control measures defined and implemented.
  • Roof-edge barriers (or scaffold), also known as edge-protection, must be erected to prevent people and materials falling.
  • Any ladders used for access to the area where work at height is taking place must extend at least one metre above the stepping off point and must be secured.
  • Where access ladders rise above nine metres, a safe intermediate platform must be provided.
  • Ladders must be rested at the correct angle (1 unit out of 4 units in height).
  • Training must be provided for workers.

Safe working on roofs

  • Only competent operatives may be used for roofing work.
  • Crawling boards or ladders must be provided and used where the roof is liable to collapse under a person’s weight or the roof is sloping with a pitch over 10 degrees.
  • Where work is of short duration and the provision of guard-rails and toe boards is impracticable, safety harnesses must be used with suitable anchorage points provided.
  • Openings must be covered or guarded, if removed for the passage of workers or materials, it should be replaced immediately.

Questions for employees

  • What should be assessed before work at height starts?
  • What should you have if an access ladder extends beyond nine metres?
  • When would you use crawling boards?
  • Where work is of short duration, what practical safety precautions can be taken?

Contact us for further information


Published · Updated

What is RIDDOR?

What is RIDDOR?

What is RIDDOR?

RIDDOR rules and regulations

There are certain rules and regulations regarding RIDDOR, these include keeping all records up to date, having an accident book so accidents that don’t need to be reported to RIDDOR can be recorded.

RIDDOR 2013 changes

There are certain rules and regulations regarding RIDDOR, these include keeping all records up to date, having an accident book so accidents that don’t need to be reported to RIDDOR can be recorded.

It is advised that RIDDOR records are kept for 5-6 years however the minimum they must be kept for is 3 years.

In October 2013, new RIDDOR regulations came into place, there were some changes, the list of ‘major injuries’ in RIDDOR 1995 was replaced with ‘Specified injuries’ in 2013.

The 1995 schedule that detailed 47 different types of industrial disease was replaced with eight categories of reportable work-related illness.

There was also a change in the types of dangerous occurrences that needed to be reported, in 2013 there were less.

Who is the responsible person?

In many different workplaces RIDDOR applies, In 2013 RIDDOR was revised, now it requires a responsible person to report to the enforcement agency, as well as keeping records.

A responsible person is –

  • An employer (or employee who works for the employer).
  • A self-employed person.
  • A person in control of a premises.
  • A specified person for mines, quarries and offshore activities.
  • We can help direct you, Walker Health and Safety Services

The responsible person only needs to report to the HSE when a accident or incident has occurred in relation to work. So, if something happens to a worker when they are on their way home from work. It doesn’t need to be reported under RIDDOR.

What is RIDDOR reportable?

RIDDOR reportable, deaths and injuries must have occurred – As a result of an accident to workers, self-employed and non-workers that has caused injury to them.

Or from a work-related accident that arise out of or in connection with work, the work itself must have contributed to the accident, as well as whether any plant, substance or equipment were involved. The condition of the workplace can also have an impact on whether an accident is reportable.

It is important to report any accidents and incidents as they are warnings that there are uncontrolled hazards that need identifying and eliminating to help prevent any more accidents in the future, or worse a serious accident that could cost someone their life.

What doesn’t need to be reported under RIDDOR 2013

There are certain things that don’t have to be reported under RIDDOR 2013, it is important to know what these are so that you don’t end up not making a RIDDOR report when you should have done.

  • If someone dies, or is injured, as a result of receiving dental or medical treatment.
  • If armed forces personnel are killed or injured whilst on duty.
  • If someone dies, or is injured, in a road traffic collision. However, if someone is killed or injured whilst unloading/loading a vehicle, whilst working adjacent to the road, by a train, or by a substance escaping from a vehicle, then this is reportable under the regulations.

Contact us for further information.


Warehouse health and safety tips

Warehouse health and safety tips

Warehouse health and safety tips

Why health and safety in a warehouse environment is so important

Health and safety procedures are paramount in any workplace, but warehousing roles present specific risks that all workers should be aware of. First, it’s important to note that we understand how easy it can be to to let initial training fall to the wayside as you grow in confidence and find yourself in an everyday routine – this is normal in many jobs.

However, letting your guard down in a high-risk environment can not only put you in danger, but it can also expose your colleagues to the risks of the work place too. So, it certainly pays to be educated when it comes to warehouse health and safety.

What are the warehouse requirements in the UK?

Whether you are an employer or an employee, there are certain requirements that must be met within the warehousing industry. Below are some of the main legal requirements for employers in the UK warehousing industry:

  • Employers, supervisors and managers must provide employees with adequate and appropriate welfare facilities. These include appropriate toilet facilities, adequate rest breaks and somewhere safe to eat and drink.
  • Environmental requirements such as lighting, temperature, cleanliness, floor conditions, falls or falling objects, ventilation and transparent doors must all be addressed by an employer by law.
  • Best practice must be maintained by management to ensure employees feel listened to, valued and considered in work place decisions.

It is imperative that all aspects of health and safety training are covered by management. These include training in:

  • Fire safety
  • Vehicles safety
  • Slips and falls
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Manual handling

Why is training so important for warehousing staff?

Warehousing logistics are complex, and typically this type of work environment never sleeps. For this reason alone, it can be a manic environment to be in, especially if you’re not up to date with recent training strategies.

There are a huge range of benefits to training warehousing staff, not least to improve efficiency, increase staff morale and offer job fulfilment, but also to equip staff with everything they need to stay safe at work.

As we have stated, warehouses pose a plethora of risks, from moving vehicles to high objects, there is the potential for all kinds of incidents to occur, and so it is vital that every person on the premises is equipped with the skills and knowledge to safely handle any workplace eventuality.

Fire safety

Due to the size and layout of most warehouses, the need for up to date and accurate fire safety training is absolutely paramount. Regular fire safety assessments and subsequent training is actually a workplace requirement regardless of the industry you’re in, but in the case of warehouses which have a number of hazards, it’s even more important that this is kept on top of.

Did you know?
In 2004 (England and Wales) fire and rescue services attended over 33,400 fires in non-domestic buildings. These fires killed 38 people and injured over 1,300.

Things that must be carried out by employers, supervisors or management include:

  • Appointing a person or persons to carry out any preventative or protective measures required by the Fire Safety Order.
  • Make all employees aware of the risks of fire in your particular premises.
  • Allocate appropriate people to carry out certain fire safety related roles.
  • Inform any visitors (non-employees) of the risks of fire in your particular premises.
  • Must consider the presence of any dangerous substances and the risk this presents to relevant persons from fire.
  • Provide appropriate information and training to employees during normal working hours, about fire precautions in the workplace. This must first be done as soon as employment commences, and be updated regularly.

Some important fire safety measures which should be carried out in the workplace include:

  • Regular fire drills– offering regular (weekly) fire drills will help to enforce the fire safety procedure for all employees and will help to prepare the team in the case of a real-life fire.
  • Weekly fire alarm testing– testing your fire alarms once a week in accordance with fire alarm regulations ensures your fire alarms are fully operational at all times.
  • Emergency lighting – Emergency lighting and exit signs are vital parts of a thorough fire safety procedure, and in the case of warehousing where there can be many hazards and obstacles this is a crucial aspect of the overall health and safety of employees.
  • Fire evacuation plans and wardens – it is important to ensure a plan has been put in place by management and has been effectively communicated to all relevant employees as to what to do in the case of a fire, and which individuals will be on hand to act as fire wardens in these scenarios.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Effective and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is often required as part of a larger health and safety strategy within a warehouse environment. It is important to ensure that you are wearing the appropriate attire to carry out your role, however this must be in conjunction with other measures in the case of your PPE failing.

It is a legal requirement here in the UK to supply all workers with appropriate PPE, and in a warehouse environment these can include:

  • Hard hats
  • High visibility jackets
  • Safety shoes
  • Eye protection
  • Hearing protection
  • Respiratory masks

Along with appropriate training in the appropriate PPE, regular risk assessments must also be carried out in the warehouse to ensure the right PPE is in place. Where new risks occur, old measures may need to be removes, and different PPE may need to be put into place.

Vehicle safety

In most warehouses in-house vehicles are an essential aspect of every day. Used typically for the safe moving and handling of goods, workers operating such vehicles are required to hold specific licenses.

Did you know?
According to RIDDOR, there were 26 deaths in the workplace caused by being struck by a moving vehicle in the year 2016-17.

Training is essential not just for those handling warehouse vehicles, but also for others who may come into contact with vehicles during their working day. Thorough training on how to use vehicles, and knowledge of best practice can help to maintain a safe environment. Here are some things to consider:

  • Regular vehicle maintenance to ensure things are running as they should be
  • Enforce a strict speed limit for warehouse vehicles. This may differ depending on whether pedestrians are active in the area, but typically you must never exceed 5mph
  • Any employees being trained up to use vehicles such as forklifts must be of the correct legal age, which is 18 years of over

Slips and Trips

In any work environment there’s likely to be a risk of slips and trips, whether that’s in the kitchen or out on the shop floor. In a warehouse it can occur more easily due to things such as the surface of the floor, cables from vehicles or spills.

Here are some things you can do to avoid accidents from happening:

  • Make sure that things are neatly put away, so that they don’t cause falls or are in people’s path
  • Cord covers need to be placed across cords, if they are on the footpath or in an open area, this helps to prevent them as a trip hazard.

Manual Handling

A huge part of your work in a warehouse will likely involve moving and handling large, often heavy goods. Doing so without the proper training however can lead to severe injuries, some of which can even put you out of work.

Did you know?
Injuries whilst lifting, handling or carrying represents the largest number of non-fatal injuries in the workplace. In 2016/17 there were 122,000 reported injuries of this nature.

Luckily, there are simple things you can do to prevent injury from moving and handling goods, these include:

  • Ensuring control measures are in place. If you are unaware of any, speak to your supervisor or manager about this. Control measures are there so that people don’t end up hurting themselves or getting an injury from lifting something too heavy
  • Use appropriate machinery as and when necessary such as lift trucks, pallet trucks and trollies to avoid accidental injury – these should be used wherever possible
  • Ensure your manual handling training is up to date – do you know the manual handling weight limits? It’s 20-25kg – if you don’t know this, or the proper ways to handle heavy goods then ask for more training first

Incorrect handling can lead to a wealth of physical conditions, including the following:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Repetitive strain injury
  • Work related upper limb disorder


As well as the way you hold yourself and handle goods in transit, the way you pack them can also make a huge difference to your physical wellbeing. Below are some of our tips for the safe packing of goods:

  • Make sure that pallets are packed correctly, this can ensure the stability of the load
  • Securing your packed loads is important. Use shrink or stretch wrapping to offer additional support to pallets
  • Are your pallets safe before loading? If you can spot any splinters, breaks, holes or other obvious damage – then don’t load goods onto it
  • Don’t apply unnecessary weight by climbing or leaning on the pallets either before or during use. Standing on pallets before they are used can cause significant damage and can compromise the safety of the load

Are you up to date with healthy and safety procedures in the workplace?

Health and safety aren’t as straightforward as we might like, especially in high-risk environments such as warehouses. But it’s crucial that we stay educated and up to date with both theoretical and practical training in order to stay safe at work.

If you are unsure about any aspects of today’s guide, it may be worthwhile to have a conversation with your manager about training opportunities. After all, it pays to be prepared.

Contact us for further information.


Understanding common electrical signs, symbols and labels

Understanding common electrical signs, symbols and labels

Understanding common electrical signs, symbols and labels

Electricity is an essential part of our everyday lives and is present in most, if not all, workplaces and homes. Despite its usefulness, it is dangerous, as contact with it can result in death or severe injuries. It can also cause damage to property from electrical-related fires and explosions.

Every year, approximately 1,000 accidents (30 of these fatal) at work involving electric shock or burns are reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Most fatalities are caused by contact with overhead or underground power cables. Even where electric shocks are not fatal, they can still result in permanent life-changing injuries.

Electrical-related fires are not uncommon either. In the Fire and Rescue Services statistics for England (2019/2020), there were:

  • 14,308 fires in non-domestic premises
    – 17 fatalities and 877 non-fatal casualties.
    – 2,219 fires were caused by electrical distribution and 1,629 fires were caused by electrical appliances.
  • 28,494 fires in dwellings (homes)
    – 199 fatalities and 5,152 non-fatal casualties.
    – 3,081 fires were caused by electrical distribution and 3,145 fires were caused by electrical appliances.

Those who work directly with electricity, e.g. engineers, electricians and overhead lines staff, are at a higher risk. However, it is also a risk for other workers and the public who use electrical equipment and appliances at work and at home.

The dangers of electricity are often underestimated, especially in low-risk environments such as offices and when people are at home. The mains electrical supply in these types of environment is 230 volts, which may seem low. However, to put this into perspective, a voltage of just 50 volts is enough to cause the heart to stop and prevent breathing. Therefore, everyone must take electrical safety seriously, whether they are at work or at home.

If there is a risk of electrical injuries at work, employers have a legal duty to prevent, reduce or control the risks. It requires them to put precautions in place, e.g. providing employees with electrical safety training and information and instruction via safety signs and labels.

Avoiding electrical hazards

A hazard is something that has the potential to cause harm. Risk is the likelihood of harm occurring and the severity should it happen. Electricity is a hazard that can cause death, severe injuries and property damage, and it is a risk in almost all workplaces and homes.

The hazards present and the level of risk will depend on:

  • The task, e.g. working on live electrical equipment will be a higher risk than using an electrical appliance in an office.
  • The training and competence of workers, e.g. those in training will be more at risk than those with a higher level of competence.
  • The electrical systems, processes or equipment involved, e.g. working with higher voltages will be more hazardous.
  • The environment, e.g. using electrical equipment outdoors will be a higher risk than using it indoors.

Common electrical hazards

Some examples of common electrical hazards include:

  • Electrocution, electric shock and burns, e.g. contact with live electrical parts.
  • Eye damage and burns, e.g. from electricity arcing.
  • Fire, e.g. from faulty, defective or damaged electrical equipment.
  • Explosion, e.g. using unsuitable equipment that could be a source of ignition in an explosive atmosphere.
  • Other hazards that can result in injury, e.g. an electric shock causing a fall from height
  • Interruption of safety-critical equipment due to a loss of power.

Electrical accidents

Electrical accidents can occur for many different reasons, such as:

  • Not isolating electrical installations and equipment properly before working on them.
  • Working on or near live electrical systems that were assumed to be dead.
  • Inadequate information and instruction provided on the risks.
  • A lack of training and competence to undertake tasks involving electricity. Inadequate training is one of the main causes of electrical accidents.
  • An unsafe safe system of work.
  • Using the incorrect type of equipment, which is not suited to the environment, e.g. using electrical equipment in wet conditions.
  • Using faulty, damaged and defective electrical systems and equipment.
  • Poor design and construction of electrical installations and wiring.
  • Overloading of electrical systems causing them to overheat.
  • Inadequate maintenance, inspection and testing of electrical systems and equipment.

Minimising the risks

There are many precautions that can minimise electrical safety risks and far too many to mention in this article.

Some examples include:

  • Ensuring the electrical installation is installed to a suitable standard and maintained by a competent person.
  • Selecting the most suitable electrical equipment for the task and environment. Looking at safer alternatives where possible, e.g. low-voltage equipment.
  • Using protective devices such as circuit breakers, fuses and residual current devices (RCDs).
  • Ensuring people working with electricity are trained and competent. Those who are at risk from using the equipment should have an awareness of electrical hazards and precautions.
  • Not misusing electrical equipment, using it for its intended purpose and storing it properly after use.
  • Maintaining electrical equipment regularly, e.g. PAT testing.
  • Completing a pre-use check of equipment to ensure that it is safe.
  • Having enough sockets and not overloading them to prevent overheating and fire.
  • Not routing electrical cables where they could be damaged or where someone could trip.
  • Switching off electrical equipment and sockets before plugging in or unplugging, and during maintenance, cleaning, repairing or adjusting.
  • Having procedures in place to deal with emergencies and adequate first aid provision to deal with electrical injuries.
  • Switching off all non-essential electrical equipment at the end of the working day.

Further information on electrical hazards and precautions can be found on the HSE’s electricity webpage and in their electrical safety guidance.

There are many different measures to prevent, control or reduce the risks of electrical hazards. Those selected must reduce the electrical risks to the lowest possible level. One of the measures used is electrical safety signs.

Electrical safety signs and symbols

Before providing safety signs, employers must first look at eliminating electrical hazards wherever possible, e.g. using non-electrical equipment. If it is not possible, they should then look at other means of avoiding or controlling the risk. For example, they can substitute higher voltage equipment for lower voltage or battery-powered equipment.

Electrical safety signs are examples of administrative controls. They are lower in the hierarchy as they do not remove the hazard. However, they are still important control measures. Safety signs can reduce the risk by providing information on the hazard and giving instructions on preventing exposure.

A safety sign is defined in the Safety Signs and Signals Approved Code of Practice as “a sign providing information or instruction about safety or health at work by means of a signboard, a colour, an illuminated sign or acoustic signal, a verbal communication or hand signal”.

The purpose of safety signs is to communicate health and safety information to workers and others at risk from the hazard.

There are five main categories of safety sign:

  • Prohibition sign – Prohibits behaviour likely to increase or cause danger. They are circular-shaped and are RED with a white background, red band and crossbar.
  • Warning sign – Gives a warning of a hazard or danger. They are triangular-shaped and are YELLOW with black symbols or text.
  • Mandatory sign – Prescribes specific behaviour and what must be done. They are circular-shaped and are BLUE with white symbols or text.
  • Safe condition sign – Gives information on emergency exits, first aid, or rescue facilities. They are rectangular-shaped and are GREEN with white symbols or text.
  • Fire safety signs – Gives information on fire protection arrangements. They are square or rectangular-shaped and are RED with white symbols or text.

All safety signs should have the appropriate universal symbols or pictograms to account for those who have difficulty reading and limited English skills. Signs displaying just text will not be compliant. Some have supplementary text (usually at the bottom) with further information on the hazard or instructions. If text is used, it must meet the category of the sign.

PAT labels

Faulty, damaged and defective electrical equipment is a common cause of accidents and is often due to a lack of maintenance. Electrical appliances and equipment should be subject to regular maintenance to identify any issues that could create a risk to users or others. Portable appliance testing (PAT), also known as PAT testing, is an example of an effective maintenance method.

According to the HSE, PAT testing is “the term used to describe the examination of electrical appliances and equipment to ensure they are safe to use”. The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) refer to it as the in-service inspection and testing of electrical equipment.

 PAT testing involves a combination of visual inspections and electronic tests. After an electrical item has been PAT tested, labels are often attached to indicate the test date and whether it is safe or not.

They usually contain the following information:

  • The appliance identification number or asset number.
  • The signature or initials of the person who carried out the PAT test.
  • The date of the PAT test.
  • Whether it has passed, failed or being inspected. Failed equipment must be removed from use immediately.
  • Some labels also have a re-test date. The HSE does not recommend this, as the tester is not responsible for determining the frequency of tests; the duty holder is. However, a re-test date can be added to the label if they have been informed of the necessary frequency.

PAT labels do vary, and there are many different types, for example:

  • Passed labels are usually green but can be blue, purple or black to account for different periods before the next test.
  • Failed labels tend to be red but are sometimes amber.
  • Some have barcodes that can be scanned by certain PAT testing equipment, which gives a maintenance history for the appliance.
  • Some are circular or rectangular-shaped.
  • Some can be personalised with the company details.

There is not a specific requirement for PAT labels to be a particular colour, size or shape. However, PAT labels are covered in the IET Code of Practice for In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment. The Code of Practice is widely accepted, and many PAT label suppliers will follow the requirements within.

Regulations and standards

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

The main law relating to electrical safety is the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. These regulations place duties on employers, the self-employed and employees. It aims to prevent and reduce the risk of death and injury from electricity in the workplace.

The main requirements of the regulations are as follows:

  • Electrical systems must be of good construction and maintained to prevent danger.
  • The strength and capability of electrical equipment must not be exceeded.
  • Electrical equipment must be protected if used in adverse or hazardous environments, e.g. in wet conditions.
  • Electrical conductors must be protected and insulated if dangerous.
  • Precautions such as earthing and other protective measures should be provided where required.
  • Electrical systems and equipment should have a means of isolation and supply cut-off in dangerous situations. It also covers working on dead equipment once isolated.
  • Workers shouldn’t work on or adjacent to live conductors unless there is no other way. Further precautions will be required for live working.
  • There should be adequate space, access and lighting around electrical equipment when working on it.
  • People must be competent or supervised to work on electrical systems and with electrical equipment.

The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996

The requirement for electrical safety signs comes under the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996. Where there is a significant electrical risk that cannot be eliminated or controlled by other methods, employers must provide safety signs and maintain them by law. The Safety Signs and Signals Approved Code of Practice provides further guidance on the requirements of the regulations.

When and where to use safety signs should be based on the findings of the risk assessment. They should only be used where they can further reduce the risk. They should be clear and legible, and employers should avoid using too many signs, as it can confuse people.

To comply with the regulations, employers must also provide employees with suitable and sufficient instruction and training in the meaning of safety signs, including the measures to take in connection with them.

BS EN ISO 7010

BS EN ISO 7010 is an international standard. According to the British Standards Institution (BSI), BS EN ISO 7010 standardises the look of safety signs and their meaning for international use and for the purposes of accident prevention, fire protection, health hazard information and emergency evacuation. The shape and colour of each safety sign and the design of the graphical symbols is according to ISO 3864 series.

ISO 7010 was introduced so that safety signs were consistent across Europe. In 2013, it became a European Normative (EN), which meant it was adopted by European Law. As a result, all member states had to adopt the standard, which included the UK. The UK has now left the EU, but BS EN ISO 7010 is the British version of the standard and still applies.

It is important to note that British Standards are not law. However, BS EN ISO 7010 is referred to in the Safety Signs and Signals Approved Code of Practice (ACOP), which provides guidelines on complying with the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996. An ACOP is a legal series publication, and the HSE can use it as evidence of non-compliance with the regulations. Therefore, it is wise for employers to follow the standard with regards to their safety signs.

PAT testing and labels

There is no legal requirement to carry out PAT testing, but it is an effective way of showing that electrical equipment has been effectively maintained. Maintenance is a legal requirement under the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998. The frequency of PAT testing should always be based on the findings of a risk assessment.

There is also no legal requirement to use PAT labels, but it is recommended as it shows that the equipment has been tested, the result and the date of the test. It also provides evidence that an effective maintenance regime is in place.

There are guidelines for PAT testing, including labels, in the IET’s Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment, 5th Edition.


Electricity can kill people. It can also cause severe injuries and damage to property. Therefore, electrical safety must be taken seriously by all those who may be directly or indirectly exposed to electricity.

Electrical signs and symbols provide workers and others with information on electrical hazards and instructions on preventing harm. Labels, such as those used in PAT testing, inform people that electrical equipment and appliances are safe to use or not. Signs, symbols and labels are a useful way of communicating health and safety information to employees and others, which can reduce the risks.

Employers have many legal duties regarding electrical safety in the workplace. They should use the top options in the hierarchy of control to prevent and reduce the risks in the first instance. If this isn’t possible, safety signs can be used where the remaining risks are significant. If safety signs are used as a control measure, employers must ensure they comply with the relevant laws and standards. It is also vital to ensure that those at risk from electricity understand the message to keep themselves and others safe.

Contact us for further information.