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Electrical equipment safety advice


16 September, 2008  

Hospitals are being urged to ensure that suitable protective devices are used wherever electrical equipment is used in a damp environment.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) warning follows the prosecution of an NHS trust after a hospital employee suffered severe injuries while operating a steam cleaner at work.

East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust pleaded guilty before Hastings magistrates to breaching the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The trust was fined GBP 8,000 and ordered to pay costs of GBP 8,467.

The charges related to an incident at the Conquest Hospital in St Leonards-On-Sea in which a cleaner suffered an electric shock from a steam cleaner. He required surgery on his injuries and is now unable to use his right hand.

A HSE investigation found that the trust had failed to follow a manufacturer’s instruction recommending the use of a Residual Current Device (RCD) with the steam cleaner. This device cuts the flow of electricity and mitigates the harm caused by an electric shock.

HSE inspector Liz Smith said: “Hospitals need to assess the risks from all electrical equipment, but particularly equipment that is used in a wet environment, and put in place suitable measures, such as RCDs, to protect their employees, as a way of reducing the risk of incidents like this happening”.

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