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Posted By Topic: Electrically unsafe vs Immediate danger

Oct 23 2019 09:11

Copied from another thread:

OctaneOutlaw Oct 22 2019 19:58

am I right in saying that ESR 19 (2) says "If a person to whom this regulation applies has reasonable grounds to believe
that the works, installation, fitting, or appliance presents an immediate danger
to life or property, the person must, as soon as practicable, advise both of the
following people of the danger:
(a) the owner or occupier of the property where the danger exists:
(b) WorkSafe."

My question is what is deemed an immediate danger to life or property as it says?

ESR 5 says "electrically unsafe means, in relation to works, installations, fittings, applian-
ces, and associated equipment, that there is a significant risk that a person may
suffer serious harm, or that property may suffer significant damage, as a result
of dangers arising, directly or indirectly, from the use of, or passage of electri-
city through, the works, installations, fittings, appliances, or associated equip-

Would you say that something that is electrically unsafe meets the definition of immediate danger to life or property and it's those things they are referring too?

And if so is it just the things listed in ESR 20-24b that we have an obligation to act on WRT ESR 19?

Or do you believe immediate danger to life or property is much wider than that?

Apologies for the multiple questions, like I said, I'm just wanting to work out where my obligations start and where they finish and when certain regulations such as ESR 19 kick in

Oct 23 2019 09:11

I believe the best way to think of it is as a scale of safety levels. Note this is just about levels of safety, and has no direct relationship to compliance.

At one end is "zero risk", and at the other is something along the lines of "killing thousands of people & animals and setting fire to multiple buildings right now".

These extremes are purely theoretical; but they help to establish the concept. There are obviously a lot of real positions along the scale between these two extremes, but we need to concentrate on just four:
- "electrically safe" is the minimum level of safety that new work must meet (set by ESR 13).
Electrically unsafe is where it's got risky enough that ESR 113 says it can't remain in service.
And "immediate danger" in ESR 19 is further down again.
There's probably not a big gap between "electrically unsafe" and "immediate danger",
but we know they're not the same thing because if they meant the same thing then the same words would have been used.

The 4th point is in the gap between "electrically safe" that applies to new work, and "electrically unsafe". That's where a lot of existing installations / appliances / fittings sit, and somewhere in there - probably not far above "electrically unsafe" - is a point that ESR 74 (2) calls "suitable for continued use".

Some examples of why i don't believe ESR 19 requires formal notification of the matters listed in various ESRs as"electrically unsafe" may help.

20(2)(b) conductors not identified
20(2)(e) designed cooling impaired
(20(20(fc)no emergency manual override
23(1(g) plug rated lower than appliance max load
24(3)(a) RCD excessive trip time

NONE of these things is an "immediate danger". But they're "electrically unsafe" because there's an unacceptable risk of something going wrong in future.

Whereas an accessible live part would definitely be an "immediate danger".

There's no official guidance; we all have to decide for ourselves how to stay within the rules.

Oct 23 2019 13:26

Right, so a few different things

Anything we find that's an immediate danger to life of property must be dealt with WRT ESR 19

Anything we find that's electrically unsafe is not allowed to remain in service due to ESR 113 and those items that are defined as electrically unsafe are set out in ESR 20-24b. What does this mean our obligations are WRT this? Must we disconnect? Lock off? Etcetc or do we simply inform whomever the information is relevant too that it can't remain in service and that something needs to be done?

And anything else we find that isn't quite electrical unsafe but still as professionals it doesn't seem right to us it's up to us to inform people and give advice but entirely up to them if they act on it or not

Does this sound about right?

Oct 23 2019 16:53

Pretty much; though "electrically unsafe is not limited to only those items listed in thise ESRs.
Think of them as examples, put there to avoid doubt.

Telling the owner is all we can do.
We don't have any authority to disconnect, lock-off, or anything else.

If they authorise action, all good.
If not, can consider putting the advice in writing.

And while we don't HAVE to report things that are not "immediate hazard"; nothing says we can't.


Oct 23 2019 20:28

Oh what, so even though ESR 113 says something may stay in use unless it becomes electrically unsafe (among other things) even if it can't be continued to be used we can't remove it from use without being told to? So if the owner or whatever says "well it's working fine and I don't want to pay to have it changed" then although it's not allowed to continue in use we can't do anything about it?

But as long as we've told them and documented it our legal obligation is fulfilled, correct?

Would them refusing or declining to remedy something like that void insurance or things like that?

Oct 24 2019 08:41

Yes; if the owner doesn't want to act on our advice about something that's unsafe but not an immediate hazard, that's the end of it for us.
We can point them at the ESRs that says continuing to use it is an offence, but we are not policemen and we do not have powers of intervention.
One thing we can do - but don't have to do - is document things so that we can show that we did tell them. mainly so when it all goes pear-shaped they can't come back and claim we never told them, and try to make it our fault.

Whether acting contrary to regs (law) by continuing to use it would invalidate insurance would be up to their insurer. But given most insurers seem to try to avoid paying out, if they were aware of a relevant breach I expect a claim would fail.

There could also be implications under HSW rules.

The only situation where we have power to take further action is under ESR 90; after doing work on an appliance. We must test the appliance, and we can only release it back to the owner under one of two conditions: either we find it is "electrically safe"; or it has been disabled and marked.

Oct 24 2019 10:08

Woah, I guess it makes sense but just seems "unsafe" which is what it's deemed

Expescially if they sell off to a new owner who's no the wiser but like you and others have said many times before we can only do our part at the time and can't cover everything that happens in the future

Thank you, this thread has been very informative hopefully it's helpful to others as well