Electrical Safety in BBC Premises

Date: 19.12.2016     Last updated: 29.03.2017 at 17.46
This Safety Guideline gives general guidance on use of electricity and electrical equipment when working in BBC Premises. It does not cover installing or maintaining fixed electrical systems.

What Can Go Wrong?

Electricity can kill or severely injure people and cause damage to property by fire.

The risk of injury is generally greater with higher voltages. Effects include:

  • Stopping the heart beating properly
  • Preventing the person from breathing
  • Causing muscle spasms
  • Electrical burns may also occur
  • Electrical short circuit or overloading can cause fire or explosion.

Legal/BBC Requirements

  • Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.
  • You must not allow work on or near exposed, live parts of equipment unless it is absolutely unavoidable and suitable precautions have been taken to prevent injury, both to the workers and to anyone else who may be in the area.
  • You must disconnect electrical equipment (not just turn it off) if you believe there is a fault.

Control Measures

Fixed electrical systems in BBC buildings are installed, inspected and maintained by competent contractors through the facilities management supply chain. If you suspect any problems report this to your local FM immediately and keep people away.

Electrical equipment is designed to be electrically safe when new but can become dangerous if damaged or incorrectly maintained.

Most electrical equipment used in BBC Buildings is covered by portable appliance inspection and test (PAT) rules. This requires periodic checks that electrical items, their supply plugs and leads have not become worn or damaged to allow contact with hazardous voltages. Items such as extension leads are particularly liable to damage to their plugs sockets connections and the cable itself.

Contact your local FM team to arrange testing of electrical equipment.

There are simple checks which everyone should do to help make sure their equipment is safe. Look out for:

  • damage to the lead including fraying, cuts or heavy scuffing, e.g. from floor box covers;
  • damage to the plug, e.g. to the cover or bent pins;
  • tape applied to the lead to join leads together;
  • coloured wires visible where the lead joins the plug (the cable is not being gripped where it enters the plug);
  • damage to the outer cover of the equipment itself, including loose parts or screws;
  • signs of overheating, such as burn marks or staining on the plug, lead or piece of equipment; Or equipment that just feels unusually hot.
  • equipment that has been used or stored in unsuitable conditions, such as wet or dusty environments or where water spills are possible; and
  • cables trapped under furniture or in floor boxes.

Remove damaged or defective equipment from use and arrange to get it repaired or replaced . 

Don't undertake even simple repairs yourself (even replacing a mains plug). Your department may have specific arrangements for the repair and maintenance of electrical equipment, if not contact the IT team or your local Facilities Team. 

Do not bring personal equipment (such as phone chargers) to work for others to use. If you use personal equipment at work it is your responsibility to make sure it is safe.

Division Specific Issues


  • BBC Workplace is responsible for inspection and test for the fixed electrical supply and infrastructure in BBC buildings.
  • Each division/department is responsible for its own electrical and IT equipment and has systems in place to ensure that appropriate checks are in place.
  • The facilities management teams can arrange for the inspection and testing (Portable Appliance Tests) of equipment that you plug into the building supply.

Electrical Safety Guidance Notes (EGNs)

  • The BBC has previously published a series of electrical safety guidance notes. These are too technical to be of use to the majority of BBC users so, with the exception of the note on Portable Appliance Testing have been withdrawn from this site and are held in on an archive on the BBC Safety Teamsite.
  • If you have a specific need to consult these then please contact BBC Safety. However, you should note that there is no mechanism to keep these updated or reviewed. 

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This site describes what the BBC does in relation to managing its health, safety and security risks and is intended for those who work directly for the BBC.

It is not intended to provide instruction or guidance on how third parties should manage their risks. The BBC cannot be held liable for how this information is interpreted or used by third parties, nor provide any assurance that adopting it would provide any measure of legal compliance. More information.

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