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Appliance safety and fire risks

In terms of preventing danger, it is often overlooked that formal electrical appliance inspection and testing programmes also play an important role in avoiding workplace fires that would otherwise be devastating for those involved.

To highlight this threat, successive annual UK fire statistics show that faulty appliances and leads continue to pose the single most common cause of accidental fires in ‘other buildings’ (non dwellings). For example, some salient UK facts and figures include:

  • In 2011/12, faulty appliances and leads were the cause of 4,000 accidental fires in commercial, business and public (non-residential) buildings.
  • In 2011/12 faulty appliances and leads were the cause of around 24% of all accidental fires in non-residential buildings
  • Between 2001 and 2012 (excl. 2010 for which no breakdown is available), each year faulty appliances and leads were identified as the cause of between 25% and 32% of accidental fires in non dwellings.
  • After faulty appliances and leads (and apart from accidental causes), the next most common cause of accidental fires in public and commercial premises is the misuse of equipment and appliances.
  • According to statistics collated by the Fire Protection Association (FPA), between 2000 and 2005, in 346 reported fires that were electrical in origin in business premises, the reported losses totalled over £178m, with an average loss per incident of over £51,000.

In the updated IET Code of Practice, there is new emphasises on the importance of robust risk assessment and the importance of taking a proportionate response to preventative actions.

These figures make it abundantly clear that faulty appliances are a major cause of workplace fires and adequate measures need to be taken to prevent or mitigate the risk that damaged or unsafe appliances present.

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