Electrical Safety

Safe usage of electrical equipment while at the University.

Every year many incidents / accidents involving electric shock or burns are reported, most of the fatal incidents are caused by contact with overhead power lines, however even non-fatal shocks can cause severe and permanent injury. Those using or working with electricity may not be the only ones at risk – poor electrical installations and faulty electrical appliances can lead to fire, which may also cause death or injury to others. Most of these incidents / accidents can be avoided by careful planning and straightforward precautions.



The risk of exposure to Electricity should not be underestimated. Faulty electrical equipment can cause electric shocks and fires which may cause death, injury or damage to property. Consequently, electricity poses a health and safety risk for anyone who works, studies, visits or has business at the University of Portsmouth. It is vital that electrical equipment is regularly maintained and inspected so that it is safe to use. The use of electrical equipment is regulated by the Electricity at Work Regulations.


The University monitor results from inspections of all University buildings and property, accident and incident reports, as well as feedback from staff and students. This monitoring helps us to manage the risk of electrical installations and appliances and assists us in ensuring campus is safe for all. 

Policy and Legislation

What is this Policy about?

This arrangement is intended to enhance the safety of all staff, students and visitors with respect to electrical systems and equipment by making all staff and students aware of their responsibilities and duties under the Electricity at Work Regulations.

Electrical safety is not solely the responsibility of Estates and Campus Services. “Nearly a quarter of all reportable electrical safety incidents / accidents involve portable equipment. The vast majority of these incidents / accidents result in electric shock”. With the vigilance of staff and students and the appropriate planned maintenance it is possible to reduce the risk and mitigate “reportable electrical incidents / accidents”, thus improving the electrical safety for everyone.

Work on the University’s electrical infrastructure, systems and equipment may only be performed by personnel appointed and approved as ‘Competent’. All works carried out on the electrical system must be certificated with the appropriate certificate as defined within BS 7671.


Who should read the Policy?

These arrangements are intended for all University staff and students, visitors and contractors who use or are exposed to hazards associated with electricity including electrical equipment either owned and controlled by the University and/or while being used in conducting University activities.


View a digital copy of:

Electrical Safety Policy

The four main pieces of legislation of specific relevance to electrical Safety and the inspection and testing of portable electrical equipment are:


Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)

Estates and Campus Services (E&CS) manage and arrange the University's portable appliance testing and have produced a code of practice to support compliance with the University's Electrical Safety Policy and to provide practical guidance for staff and students in relation to managing portable electrical appliances. The periodicity and level of inspection and testing will depend on the type of equipment, its environment and how it is used. 


This code of practice applies to items of work equipment and not personal property of staff, students or visitors. Personal appliances such as radios, coffee machines and fridges are discouraged and are not in scope of this code of practice. However, The University will accept the use of privately owned equipment for business use such as laptops and chargers in non-residential buildings as long as they are maintained in good condition and are used in appropriate circumstances.


View a digital copy of:

Code of Practice


Most faults in portable appliances can be prevented by looking for any damage to electrical equipment. Staff and Students can carry out simple visual checks on equipment and if any damage or faults are noticed, remove the equipment from use and report it. Listed below are simple steps that staff and students can take to prevent harm or injury arising from electrical work equipment:


  • Ensure electrical equipment is turned off before it is checked.
  • Check that plugs are not damaged.
  • Check that the outer covering of the cable or wire is gripped where it enters the plug or the equipment.
  • Check that the outer cover of the equipment is not damaged, for example look for loose parts or screws.
  • Check leads, wires or cables for damage to the outer covering.
  • Check for burn marks or staining that suggests overheating.
  • Check for cracks, breaks or missing covers on the casing of the equipment.
  • Check that there are no trailing wires. If there are, tuck them out of the way, for example under a desk or table, to prevent trips or tampering.

To prevent danger arising from portable electrical work equipment, a pre-planned preventative maintenance programme is essential. Most faculties and services may already have a PAT programme in place, it is essential that you check this with your faculty or service. Where equipment has not been included and you believe that it should be, this is managed and arranged by Estates and Campus Services. If you have an enquiry please contact us using the below details:


Estates Helpdesk

Floor 8, Mercantile House

Hampshire Terrace

Portsmouth, PO1 2EG

T: +44 (0) 23 9284 6677


Get in Touch




For further information

The following resources provide additional information regarding safe working practices when using electrical equipment: