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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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News: Staff play with fire bringing hair straighteners to work


UK employees are putting themselves at risk of fire and personal injury because they bring their personal electrical items into work but don’t get them safety checked, a survey has found.

Two out of five staff members bring devices ranging from heaters and hair straighteners to fairy lights and even power tools into the workplace, according to a survey published today by insurance company, RSA.
But a huge 54% of the 2,000 employees questioned admitted that the goods had not been safety-checked, even though they were subject to the same regulations as employer-owned electrical items.
A worrying 8% admitted that a personal device had caught fire at work, however, while 9% said that they had suffered a personal injury such as a burn or electric shock as a result, with 34% of those affected even requiring a trip to hospital.
Gary Long, director of RSA’s UK risk managed business, said it was imperative that employers were made aware of the risks posed by people bringing their own electrical goods into work.
"These items are often side-stepping the recommended safety checks, exposing employees to potential fire hazards or personal injury such as burns and electric shocks," he explained.
As a result, it was important that employers took action to ensure that the correct policies and checks were in place, and that their staff are not only aware of them but also knew what to do in the event of an incident, Long added.
The survey also revealed that workers in the North East of England experienced the highest number of electrical items catching fire (21%), with the lowest rates being in the East Midlands and South West respectively, while employees in Scotland suffered the highest levels of personal injury.

2 Responses

  1. No more curls

    Just a thought – should every company provide ONE set of corporate hair straighteners for staff use?  The cure for ‘bent hair’ would be administered by a CHSE (Corporate Hair Straightening Executive), thus removing the need for Electrical Safety testing.

    Just sayin’ 🙂

  2. It’s an illusion

    On the other hand, the testing industry is one of the biggest rackets that has ever sprung up.  For example, PAT testing is only valid for the moment when the equipment is tested, even though the certificate lasts for a year.  If after testing someone were to damage a lead etc. the equipment is just as dangerous.  So, certification offers no guarantee of safety.  In the words of 80’s electro pop band Imagination "It’s just an illusion".

    There is a general assumption that safety testing = safety.   

Author Profile Picture
Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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