Skip to main content

Health and Safety Directorate

Electrical Safety


How electricity can cause harm

  • Shock: When someone is exposed to a live electrical component at a dangerous voltage.  
  • Burn: Often associated with a shock (usually 2 burns, at the entry and exit points).  At high voltages and currents these burns can be very severe.
  • Fires: Fires usually started through an electrical fault or over loading of an electrical circuit.  
  • Explosions: Where flammable vapours or gases may be present, electrical equipment can be a source of ignition.

Electrical systems

  • Fixed wiring system: This is the system which distribute electricity around the University from the electrical meters to the final fixed outlet e.g. electric socket.  Some large items of plant such as such as building ventilation systems, are included as part of this system.  These systems are subject to a minimum of a 5 yearly inspection and test, although other testing will be applied to certain components between these 5 yearly inspections.  These systems are only ever worked upon by competent contractors or engineers managed by Estates and Facilities.
  • Portable electrical appliances: These are the everyday electrical items we all plug into electrical sockets.  There is a process to ensure these are safe for use.  There is a common myth that these must be tested every year (Portable Appliance Testing PAT) every year but this is not accurate.  Some pieces of equipment need more frequent testing e.g. equipment used in harsh construction environments; and many need less frequent inspection and testing e.g. office equipment that rarely, if ever, moves.  
    An approved contractor for carrying out PAT testing can be contacted through the Estates and Facilities Maintenance Department at Queen Mary on extension 2580 or email 

Simple user checks for users of electrical equipment

  • Damage to the lead including fraying, cuts or heavy scuffing, e.g. from floor box covers.
  • Damage to the plug, e.g. to the cover or bent pins.
  • Tape applied to the lead to join leads together.
  • Coloured wires visible where the lead joins the plug.
  • Damage to the outer cover of the equipment itself, including loose parts or screws.
  • Signs of overheating, such as burn marks or staining on the plug, lead or piece of equipment.
  • Equipment that has been used or stored in unsuitable conditions, such as wet or dusty environments or where water spills are possible.
  • Cables trapped under furniture or in floor boxes.

Any emergency involving electricity – Turn off the power (IF IT IS SAFE TO DO SO), get to a safe position and report the emergency to Security x3333.

If you see any of these issues do not use the equipment and report the issue to Estates and Facilities or the School Manager.

QMUL Documents


Primary legislation

Electricity at Work Regulations 1989


For Advice and Assistance at QMUL, contact the H&S Manager / Advisor for your Faculty / PS  or the subject lead at

All H&S staff can be contacted via the help desk at

Return to top