Fault Diagnosis Health & Safety

The shocking truth about installer safety

Professional electricians and installers are risking their lives everyday by not following basic safety procedures like using a lock out kit or a voltage tester to check charge before starting work, according to new research carried out on behalf of Super Rod and Louise Taggart, who tells her brother Michael’s Story.

825 members of the Electricians Community Forum group on Facebook were surveyed about their safety habits and the findings make shocking reading; a quarter said they rarely or never used a lock out kit to isolate the electrical supply they are working on and 1 in 5 don’t even carry one in their van or tool bag. Without a lock out kit in place, installers are ‘working live’ and any accidental contact can cause serious injury or even loss of life.

Instead of using a lock out kit, installers have many weird and wonderful ways to ensure their safety, from using signage (44%) and tape (19%) to verbally telling other trades what they are working on (2%) to avoid accidents. Worryingly, a few respondents said they took no precautions at all (2%).

So why don’t installers use a lock out kit, a vital piece of equipment which could save their life? A third said they worked alone so didn’t need to use one (31%), 1 in 10 (10%) said they were too much hassle and others felt they were too expensive (9%). 10% didn’t use a lock out kit because their employer didn’t provide them with one, and 4% said they couldn’t find them in their local wholesalers.  

The survey also asked about attitudes towards using a voltage tester to prove dead before starting work. One in 10 installers said they didn’t use one, and a third of respondents (33%) think they are experienced enough not to make a mistake, so didn’t need to check with a voltage tester. A quarter of installers (25%) said they didn’t use a voltage tester regularly because theirs was broken or needed new batteries.

The survey was commissioned by Super Rod and Louise Taggart, whose brother Michael Adamson died as the result of an electrical incident in August 2005. Aged just 26, Michael was an experienced electrician but due to a number of health and safety failings on the site he was working on – including the failure to implement safe isolation procedures and a failure to provide lock off devices and testing equipment – he came into contact with mains voltage power and was pronounced dead.  

Louise now shares Michael’s Story and works tirelessly to ensure no other family has to endure what her family has been through. Louise said: “Attitudes towards safe working practices in the electrical industry desperately need to change, and its shocking to hear that so many installers’ lives are being gambled with through non-supply or use of vital equipment which is there to ensure they get home safely to their loved ones every night.

“My brother would still be alive today and celebrating his 40th birthday next year had safe working practices been followed on that job and I would urge installers to get smart about their safety – if not for themselves, then for their family and friends.”

Super Rod Managing Director Malcolm Duncan heard Louise speak at a conference in Scotland last year and was inspired to support her cause. He said: “As soon as I heard Louise tell her story, I knew it was something we had to support to help her raise awareness. We didn’t know how widespread the issues of non-compliance would be but the reality revealed by the survey was worse than we had initially thought.

“The use of a lock out kit and voltage tester needs to be standard practice for EVERY installer, and we are committing our own resources to raising awareness of the issue and finding solutions that will encourage smarter, safer working environments for our electricians.”  

The survey of installers was conducted by the Electricians Community Forum, which has more than 15,000 members on Facebook. 825 members completed a short survey in April 2018 about their attitudes to safety and in particular the use of lock out kits and voltage testers.

For more information about Super Rod visit www.super-rod.co.uk or find them on Facebook and Twitter. To read more about Michael’s Story, visit www.michaels-story.net