Safety remains a priority when installing, using, or maintaining electrical equipment. In the UK, 14,186 accidental electrical dwelling fires were reported in 2021, according to this report. Fatalities from accidental electrical fires and electrocution are not uncommon, but several measures are placed to reduce such incidents. Service electricians managing electrical distribution boards in a building follow the standard protocol to prevent accidents and damage. Here are ten safety tips for managing the distribution boards in your building.
Safety First, Always
UK HSE guidelines require anyone involved with distribution boards to observe standard safety precautions such as wearing protective equipment, following standard safety procedures, and having fire extinguishers ready. Use insulated gloves, goggles/face shields, and a safety helmet. Use only insulated tools when working and stay alert at all times. That is the first step in managing distribution boards. You should also evaluate the general condition of the distribution box relative to the environment and, if possible, educate occupants on safety measures to observe.
Use The Right Circuit Breakers
Circuit breakers cut off power from a circuit without shutting off the entire building. They also direct a certain amount of electricity into a circuit. Circuit breakers prevent the overloading of circuits and potential damages. That is why a suitable circuit breaker is vital to manage distribution boards effectively. You should ensure that the correct circuit breaker rating corresponds to the same circuit rating. For example, 15-amp breakers should be used for 15-amp circuits.
Use The Right Distribution Board
There are different types and ratings of distribution boards corresponding to the electrical load of buildings. Using the wrong distribution board can cause electrical faults leading to fires or damage to connected appliances. You should replace faulty parts or entire boards with the specific rating or use the same brand. For example, if Ryefield boards are installed, and you need to return any part, it is best to either get the specific replacement part from the manufacturer or consider replacing the whole board from the range of Ryefield distribution boards. You can check Sparks Direct range of distribution boards for rated and high-quality distribution boards. It is your responsibility to ensure that only the correct board is used.
Stay Dry At All Times
It is plain foolishness to attempt any electrical work when wet. You should stay dry at all times when handling distribution boards. An electrical fault could energise the cover of a distribution board and cause electrocution upon contact. Don’t rely on wearing insulated gloves or clothing when wet; dry off first before doing electrical works.
Keep Distribution Board Closed
Unless you perform maintenance or repairs, it is standard to keep distribution boards closed and locked at all times. Sealing a distribution board protects both the board and people from potential harm. Careless contact with distribution boards may be fatal if electrocution occurs. Wires and insulators in the panel may rust if exposed for long periods. Rodents are also known to chew wires, causing electrical faults.
Always Disconnect The Main Power Source Before Working
If you have cause to open the distribution board, you might want to disconnect the board from the primary power source. There is always the main switch that controls the electrical flow into distribution boards. Turn that switch off before opening the box. Where necessary, have a partner or someone else stay by the switch to prevent someone from turning it on while you are working. If the main switch is lockable, lock it and keep the keys with you.
Use The Right Fuse
Fuses, like circuit breakers, are rated to permit only specific electrical power into a device. Where applicable, you should only use the proper fuse for the circuit. Replacing the fuse with an improvised wire may cause damage when higher electrical power enters the device. It is best to replace fuses with the manufacturer-specified type.
Replace Brittle Wires
Brittle wires are potential sources of electrical faults that can cause much damage. They also pose a risk to anyone coming in contact with electrical appliances. You should be proactive in finding brittle wires and replacing them. Although brittle wires may be faded, wires with bright colours may be brittle or faulty, so keep an open eye.
Keep Ladders Firm And The Floor Cleared
HSE statistics show wobbly ladders cause around one-third of all UK accidents. If climbing a ladder to reach the distribution board, you should ensure the ladder is firm and steady. Also, ensure that the floor around the ladder is cleared of items that can aggravate injuries if you fall. You could keep soft cushions around; it’s all about your safety.
Always Keep A Maintenance Record
Maintenance records help you keep track of changes and provide ready data for predicting potential faults. By keeping one, you can safely perform effective distribution board management. These records will put you in a good position to keep on top of your distribution boards. The tips that you’ve read throughout this article will also help you keep your building safe and up to the expected standard.