Maintenance Services Electrical - News & Information
Safely isolating low voltage circuits
A new video has been launched as part of a campaign to reduce the number of injuries caused when low-voltage (LV) circuits (up to 1,000V AC or 1,500V DC) aren’t correctly isolated.
Employers should make sure proper safety procedures are in place and that employees working with electrical systems have the knowledge, training and experience to carry out their work safely. They should also have suitable tools, test equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE).
To comply with the Electricity at Work Regulations work on electrical equipment or circuits should almost always be done with the system powered down and isolated, known as ‘dead’ working.
‘Live’ working should only be carried out in exceptional circumstances where dead working is impractical, such as fault finding and testing, when suitable precautions must be taken to protect against injury.
What is isolation?
Isolation safely breaks the energy supply to an installation to prevent accidental reconnection. It should be under the control of the person who is carrying out the work on the isolated equipment.
This might involve securing the point of isolation with a combination padlock, a lock switched door or distribution box, removable or locked-off circuit breakers or fuses. A clear caution sign should also be displayed.
The MSE team takes electrical safety very seriously.
Please get in touch if you would like to know more about our policies and methods of work.
Latest projects – high lights and outdoor illumination
It’s been a busy month with some interesting projects, and we’ve been very pleased with the results.
High bay LED lighting
One lighting project we have been looking forward to completing for some time is the wiring and installation of just seven high bay 150W LED units. We knew what a transformation it would be for this auto workshop, which you can see in our before and after photos.
Why choose high bay lighting?
High bay lighting is a good solution for many different locations because it gives bright and consistent illumination for larger indoor spaces with high ceilings of around 8metres or more. LED high bay lights are also energy efficient and very reliable, so they help to keep maintenance costs down too.
It’s a popular choice for warehouses, department stores, manufacturing areas and sports halls. There’s a wide choice of luminaires available and, when they are properly positioned with suitable reflectors where needed, they provide a flexible option for good quality lighting. The quality of light is especially important for workshops and where vehicles might be moving around.
Domestic exterior lighting
We were also very pleased with the results of this domestic lighting project and the positive feedback we received.
With so many uses for outdoor lighting, there are quite a few things to think about.
The area you want to light will often determine the type of fittings needed. If you want to illuminate your entrances and driveway for both decorative and security reasons there are options that help people stay safe and visible without being so bright that they affect your neighbours. You can also choose interesting illumination patterns for attractive results.
For safety and reliability, your exterior lights need weatherproof connections to the power supply rather than relying on small inset solar panels or batteries, although these can be options to consider in your garden where providing an electricity supply can be more complicated.
Many wall-mounted lights have a passive infrared (PIR) sensor so they only switch on when motion is detected in a certain area. This will save you energy and can act as a deterrent for anyone who shouldn’t be approaching your property.
A fast response for fork lift charging points
One of our commercial clients in the North East was in a hurry to start making the most of their new storage facility, so just one day after the premises were handed over the MSE team was there to install their fork lift charging points.
The team will be back soon to continue installations to meet their other various additional power requirements.
Electrical requirements for fork lift charging
Meeting the operational and safety requirements for electric fork lift charging is important to minimise the risks of moving machinery in the workplace. Electric forklift trucks are popular because they are energy efficient, easy to use, and can help to reduce the CO2 emissions of your business.
To use them effectively you will need a designated forklift charging station fitted with the necessary safety features. Your charging points must be fitted correctly in a safe place that’s secure but also accessible. All chargers must have emergency stop breakers so they can be disconnected from the power supply. The chargers must be mounted at the right height so that wires are no longer than one metre to avoid a tripping hazard.
There should also be at least a one-metre gap between each forklift truck when they are charging so that people can move around them safely. Easily accessible fire extinguishers that are suitable for use on electric fires should also be available.
Charging forklift batteries produces hydrogen gas, which is difficult to detect and dangerous, so ventilation in the charging area is important along with air quality monitoring.
Please get in touch to discuss your fork lift charging requirements.
Plan ahead when you’re moving premises
There’s a lot to think about when you’re moving your business to a new location.
You might have outgrown your existing site, be adding more capacity for the future, or starting something new and exciting, but it’s a big undertaking.
We’re busy helping one of our commercial clients get ready to move into new premises in March by installing power for their closed circuit televisions, intruder alarms, data cabinet and offices, and forklift truck charging stations, as well as energy efficient LED floodlighting.
Moving business premises: electrical considerations
Cabling – one of the most important requirements is to make sure you have power where you need it. You will need to plan for lighting, heating, IT systems, and other equipment so you will want to confirm that cabling is available or can be installed. If possible, you might want to consider underfloor power cabling to keep your workspaces tidy. Alternatively, you can install ducting at floor level, on walls, or use ceiling spaces.
Communication and power backup – larger businesses will need a communication network and a dedicated communications room which will require its own cabling and a reliable power supply. To avoid costly disruption to your business an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) device will provide battery backup if there’s an power cut.
Relocating electrical supplies – even if your new premises is well provided for electrically, you will probably want to move some things around. You will want to avoid extra electrical work after your move is completed and you will want to know that you meet all the required regulations. Work with qualified professional electricians to make sure your requirements are met, that your installation is fully tested, and that your team can work safely.
EICR – an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) will evaluate your commercial property’s electrical installations and systems and confirm they meet national safety standards and are in safe working order. It will also tell you if there are any issues that need to be resolved. As an employer you must make sure your electrical systems are safely installed and maintained and carry out regular assessments and testing. Landlords of commercial buildings have a responsibility to protect their clients.
Please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help if you’re planning to relocate your business
Should you be on the Priority Services Register?
Energy suppliers and network operators provide free support for vulnerable people and families in emergencies.
However, not everyone who is eligible has joined the Priority Services Register.
In the London, East Anglia and South East England region one under-represented area is Cambridge, where half of eligible households aren’t registered.
While emergencies affecting the power network don’t happen very often there are concerns that there will be greater risk as energy costs increase and reserves reduce. People in vulnerable households can be very seriously affected, even if their energy supplies are unavailable for a short period. The register will help their suppliers to provide support where it’s most needed.
Although joining the register might not mean services are restored more quickly people will receive regular updates and additional help if needed. They can also receive free independent expert energy advice if they are worried about paying bills or keeping their home warm.
In 2021 households on the region’s Priority Services Register received around £40,000 worth of support for meals and hotel stays and independent energy advice and support has helped them to save up to £8.4million.
Improving indoor air quality
On 15 December the amended Part Fof the Building Regulations was approved. It is intended to specify ventilation requirements to maintain indoor air quality.
It’s part of a number of changes to Building Regulations to support the Future Homes Standard and help to achieve the government’s Net Zero target by 2050.
The means of ventilation
Part F will be used alongside the amended Part L concerning the conservation of fuel and power. Part L was first published in 2010 and has also been amended to help ensure new homes use almost a third less carbon.
As our buildings become more airtight to improve energy efficiency steps are also needed to maintain indoor air quality. The new Part F will promote low carbon ventilation as an industry standard and improve the quality of the air we breathe.
Part F now includes a section about ‘Installing Energy Efficiency Measures’ for existing properties. This requires an assessment of additional ventilation that might be needed, based on the estimated impact of energy efficiency work.
Previously some energy efficiency measures have increased airtightness but have also resulted in homes experiencing problems with condensation, mould and poor indoor air quality. The additional section will encourage home owners and installers to consider the risks of indoor air pollution when planning improved energy efficiency.
For new residential homes more advanced ventilation will be needed, such as Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR) and Continuous Mechanical Extract Ventilation instead of traditional natural ventilation. Natural ventilation will only be suitable for homes that are designed to a minimum standard of air permeability.
Housebuilders will need to specify continuous mechanical extraction units that will provide suitable airflow and low noise levels for whole house ventilation.
The pandemic has highlighted the need for good ventilation to reduce virus transmission. Part F will also introduce improvements to ventilation in new non-residential properties to reduce the spread of airborne viruses, especially for indoor sports, gyms, performance and educational spaces. New buildings should also include indoor air quality monitoring such as CO2 monitors, possibly with traffic light signals and alarms.
Please get in touch to discuss the electrical installation requirements for your ventilation project.
Materials and recruitment challenges for 2022
The team at MSE expects to remain busy in 2022. We are aware that continuing materials shortages could lead to delays and increased costs and we will discuss any issues with you before planning your project.
Electricians’ views about 2022
A recent study asked electricians what they expected in the year ahead. Overall, there was optimism, but there was also awareness of the challenges we will face.
One in five think 2022 will be a better year and there was general confidence that things will improve. Many believe their companies will recover from the pandemic by 2023 with more work and better job security. Many are looking to expand and recruit new members of staff.
However, almost a quarter are expecting some challenges in the year ahead. The limited availability and rising cost of materials are the main concerns. Recruitment is also expected to be difficult because there are more vacancies than qualified professionals.
Younger electricians are more worried about recruitment while their older colleagues are focussing on the rising cost of materials and the availability of tools and equipment.
Plan your project early
installation sector, and we can expect some more challenges ahead.
However, like many of the electricians who took part in this study we have a positive outlook for the next 12 months. We are ready to find creative solutions to any problems that arise and will be happy to work with you to plan and implement your electrical installation projects.
Please get in touch to discuss your requirements as soon as possible.
New welding bay
We recently completed a state of the art welding facility for one of our long-standing industrial clients in Daventry.
They are specialist producers of vehicle exhaust and powertrain systems and components.
Their new installation was needed thanks to the growing demand from their prestigious customer base.
Electrical safety and welding
There are quite a few risks in a welding environment. Most importantly, the lack of oxygen in a confined space and the fire risks associated with welding gasses make emergency cut offs for power a priority.
The arc welding process requires a live electrical circuit so operators using hand-held equipment face the risk of electric shocks and burns, although other types of metal inert gas or metal active gas (MIG/MAG) or tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding represent less of a risk as the current is normally switched on and off using the trigger or foot switch.
Fixed welding equipment should always be installed by a qualified person and connected according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Insulation on the welding and current return leads, plugs, clamps or torch/electrode holder must not be damaged and all the connectors must also be correctly rated for the current used.
Substantial stray welding currents can return along paths other than the welding return cable, and this is more likely to happen if the welding return path has high electrical resistance. Ideally, the current return path should be as short as possible to minimise risk.
When using three-phase welding circuits or single-phase circuits using different phases of the mains supply, welding positions connected to different phases or transformers should be separated to reduce the possibility of electric shock.
Welding personal protective equipment (PPE) isn’t designed to prevent electric shock and, although it can provide some protection, damp or contaminated clothing will have less resistance, increasing the risk.
Regular checks and maintenance of welding equipment are important too.
Please get in touch to discuss your industrial electrical installation and maintenance requirements.
Brighter, cheaper lighting 12/11/21 When a site is used around the clock like this space that handles customer returns, good quality lighting is essential. It was genuinely too dark to take a ‘before’ picture of this location, but after we had removed 99 fluorescent units rated at 174W each and replaced them with 89 energy efficient 57W LED units the difference was clear to see. That represents a saving of more than 56 tonnes of CO2 and the investment will have paid for itself in less than 10 months. For our clients their new lighting will provide an annual saving of almost £14,750.
We also installed emergency escape route wiring and lighting so that everyone can find their way to safety if there’s a fire or power cut for example.
Emergency lights should stay on for between one and three hours as a failsafe system in case there’s a power cut, and they are a safety requirement for businesses. They help anyone in the building make their way to an exit safely and, once power is back on, the emergency lights should recharge.
As well as lighting for routes to fire escapes and emergency exits there are three other types of emergency lighting.
Open area emergency lighting provides enough light for people to escape from larger, open indoor spaces in an emergency.
High-risk task area lighting is for areas where people are working with tools or operating machinery and will give people like fork lift truck drivers, for example, time to stop working, switch off machinery, and move to a safe place.
Standby lighting powered by a diesel generator, for example, will keep lights operating until power can be restored. This isn’t a legal requirement but will allow operations to continue during a power cut.
Additional emergency lighting and signs are needed in areas with extra risks such as stairwells, where floor levels change, toilets, intersections in corridors and where the direction of an escape route changes.
Types of emergency lighting
Emergency lighting systems can be self-contained with single point power sources for each unit or they can be powered by a central battery. Installation is cheaper and faster for self-contained units that don’t need additional hardware or wiring; however, battery life is limited and their operation can be affected by humidity or heat. Central battery power sources are more straightforward to test and maintain but will cost more to instal.
Emergency lights should be fully tested at least annually, and sometimes more frequently depending on your site and operations, to be sure they operate as expected and for the required period. A daily visual inspection of a centrally powered system will show that everything is operational. All systems should have a monthly test to be sure that the emergency lighting comes on when the power is off.
Please get in touch about the installation, maintenance and testing of emergency lighting for your business premises.
Electrical supplies for radon extraction
We’ve been working all over the country alongside Radon Protection UK to provide power supplies for radon extraction equipment.
One of the most common methods used to reduce the indoor levels of radon in the UK is an exterior radon sump.
These sumps, built outside the property, will be specifically designed by the Radon Protection team according to your property and existing levels of radon.
There are a lot of things to consider, including the size, layout and history of the property, the materials used in the building, and the existing electrical connections, so a site survey will be needed.
Active radon sumps are powered by an electric fan and they will reduce even the highest radon levels.
The pipework and extraction fan are typically installed on an outside wall, venting the gas into the atmosphere. A single sump would be enough for an average sized home.
Why radon extraction is needed
Radon is a gas which occurs naturally, although you won’t know it’s there because it’s colourless and odourless. Because it’s formed by the decay of small amounts of uranium that occur naturally in rocks and soils it is radioactive.
Every building contains some radon but the levels are usually low. The chances of a higher level being discovered will depend on the land where your property is built. Radon produces very small radioactive particles and when you breathe them in the radiation can damage your lungs.
Testing is needed to find out whether you need to take action to reduce the level of radon in your home.
Garden lighting for the winter
You can still enjoy your garden in the winter and well-chosen lighting can create impressive effects during the longer evenings.
You can experiment with some sample light fittings to see what works best and, with some good planning, you can paint your garden with light.
This recent project looked stunning with frosted marker lights on the decking to create just the right atmosphere, complementing the existing wall lights on the property. Some slim black low voltage spike lights throughout the garden added more interest, picking out favourite trees and other features. There were also some oak-finished bollards and tiny cube lights for the poolside decking to add another dimension.
Tips for garden lighting
You might want to add additional outdoor lighting for safety and security, or as an added garden feature at night, so you can admire your outdoor spaces.
Adding lights on your driveway can be welcoming and improve safety on dark evenings, helping you to avoid trips and falls. It’s an especially good idea for garden steps.
However, you won’t want too many bright lights or colours, which could spoil your enjoyment and upset your neighbours.
When you have planned the type and position of your garden lights, you will also need to consider the electrical wiring, timing, and switches. You might want your lights to come on at dusk, for example, or to be able to switch on single zones in your front or back gardens at different times.
If you are planning a garden makeover, we’ll be happy to work with your landscaper. If you just want to add some extra outdoor illumination talk to us about samples or if you have any questions.
Guidance for electrical safety in higher-risk buildings
The Electrical Safety Roundtable has created new guidance on how to manage electrical systems within higher-risk buildings (HRBs) which will be launched on 18 October.
Back in 2019 Dame Judith Hackett, the former Health and Safety Executive Chairperson who headed the review following the Grenfell fire, urged trades and professionals working on HRBs to move ahead with plans to improve competencies rather than wait for the government to introduce new regulations.
New guidance for electrical systems in HRBs
The document contains over 100 pages of information for people responsible for managing risk and safety in HRBs. It has been created in collaboration with over 25 expert organisations to highlight the importance of managing and monitoring electrical systems in these buildings to reduce risks for tenants.
The guidance recognises that effective risk management for electrical installations is complex and promotes the need to review current practices to improve safety.
The Electrical Safety Round Table
The Electrical Safety Roundtable is an industry forum which aims to provide ground-breaking research and policy recommendations to the government and industry. It also provides independent electrical and home safety guidance for consumers.
It was originally founded in response to concern about the need for competent registered electricians and adequate enforcement of the Building Regulations. The Roundtable is now a permanent organisation with over 50 industry members looking at electrical safety in the home, the workplace and across social housing.