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Electric Shock At Work: Who Is Liable?

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electric shock at work who is liable

From death and injury to long-term property damage, electric shock at work can have a devastating impact on a business. It can also leave companies and individuals liable under the law. This could mean prosecution, with financial penalties or even jail possible if relevant laws and regulations are found to have been breached.

This post considers the risks of electric shock at work and looks at the resulting liability.

Electrical shock at work: the risks

The main risks if an employee or contractor experiences an electrical shock in the workplace are death and injury. Even if not fatal, a severe electric shock can leave an individual with broken bones, brain damage or burns that lead to limb amputation.

In addition, electrical incidents can lead to workplace damage and disruption due to fire or having to shut down systems while extensive (and costly) repairs are carried out.

Finally, the risks of a work-related electrical shock extend to leaving organisations and individuals exposed to legal ramifications if relevant rules are breached.

What rules relate to electrical safety in the workplace?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a range of guidance relating to electrical safety in the workplace. This highlights the relevant laws and regulations, which include:

There are more specific rules covering mines and potentially explosive atmospheres. Electrical safety is also caught by more general rules relating to, for example, work equipment and the reporting of workplace incidents.

An overview of cases prosecuted by the HSE indicates the extent of incidents which can lead to prosecution under one or more of these pieces of legislation.

Determining liability for electric shock at work

When considering a prosecution, the HSE looks at the role of directors, managers, employees and others, meaning individuals as well as companies can be held liable. HSWA section 37 explains that directors or officers of an organisation can be prosecuted if the offence resulted from their neglect, among other things. Penalties for individuals can include a custodial sentence of a maximum two years.

Organisations found in breach of the law typically face a financial penalty. For incidents occurring after 2015, an unlimited fine can be imposed.

Aside from any criminal liability or prosecution, if the worker can prove the electric shock was caused through negligence, they might be able to claim compensation. Evidence that can support a claim for suffering an electric shock at work include the employer not carrying out essential maintenance and inspections on electrical equipment.

Don’t take risks with electrical safety – call in the experts

Given the potential impacts resulting from electric shock at work and the associated liability, it is crucial employers, site managers and business owners take steps to ensure workplace electrical systems are safe and legally compliant.

At Volta Compliance, we offer comprehensive electrical testing and inspection for businesses and premises of all types and sizes across the UK. Contact us today on 0113 397 1361 to find out more about our services.

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Richard Carr Volta Compliance
Richard Carr
Managing Director
Richard is the Director of Volta Compliance. He is a fully qualified approved electrician graded with the JIB. Richard has over 20 years electrical experience working on commercial and industrial installations.