Keeping it safe: Electrical testing in UK healthcare

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Where businesses deal in profit margins and growth, hospitals and healthcare tend to the lives of our friends, families and the citizens of the UK. And just as we’re familiar with the need to keep the lights on and operations running, so too are healthcare professionals involved in guaranteeing power and the safety of their electrical systems. And in 2020, with hospitals taking the burden of a global pandemic, the importance of this message has never been greater.

Today we’re talking a little more on how they get this done – and why it matters so much. 

Power cuts: More common than you’d think

If we’re lucky, the average among us will only have a power cut occur at home a few times a year. They’re usually brief, they might interrupt dinner or an evening’s media and they’re an annoyance to most at best. Less so, of course, for a hospital.

With a study from the IPU Group finding that as many as 80 power cuts occur in the UK every day, it’s a matter of simple life and death for a healthcare establishment to keep electricity flowing. Backups and well-maintained systems are vital and constant vigilance is needed to ensure patients are able to stay and recover as best as they can. 

Backup solutions

Fortunately, hospitals have grown to be well prepared for the event of a power failure. It’s now standard practice across the NHS for hospitals to have sophisticated tiered backup systems which help to continue electrical supplies to patients and other areas of the building where important research may be ongoing. 

An example of this is an outage in an Ipswich hospital last year, where a power cut that lasted a quarter of an hour hit the building. Thanks to a back-up generator, the building suffered only a brief cut to its electric supply before swapping to its alternate source. 

Legislation and law 

There are specific laws governing the need for hospitals to stay operational during periods of disrupted power. The Health Technical Memoranda, also known as HTM, is designed to give hospitals a degree of guidance and ruling on electrical safety, electrical and powered systems and fixed wire electrical tests. The guidance also covers backup generators, helping our healthcare professionals to stay online when those all-too-frequent power cuts occur. 

Electrical safety in care homes

It’s not just hospitals that are required to be mindful and vigilant in regards to their power and electrics. Care homes are important across the country, giving a safe and dignified life to the elderly and those with disabilities, illness and injury. In these buildings, accidents can happen due to faulty electrical systems – and it’s important to be thorough with safety as a result. 

As is the case with many retail and manufacturing buildings, most electrical injuries in care homes relate to injury and damage caused by fires and from a person physically touching a live electrical appliance or system. This often is experienced by the healthcare staff supporting and caring for residents in a care home; touching a faulty socket outlet, supply cable or even a distribution board can lead to a significant burn or shock. Burns and shocks caused in this way can cause real harm to a person and often can exacerbate or trigger existing conditions. Worse still, they can be visually hard to detect, with many electrical systems showing no visual sign of fault and requiring the testing of a trained electrician or engineer.

Because of this, it’s vital for any building that falls under the healthcare umbrella – and any retail or commercial one beyond that – to ensure it’s acquired and maintaining a robust electrical testing schedule. By doing so, they can help to give safety and comfort to their residents and patients at all times – something that’s particularly important during this unique and trying period in our country’s history. 

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