Although extension leads are often a godsend in the workplace, they can lead to a health and safety nightmare if used incorrectly. As well as posing a major fire risk, they can result in trips and accidents. More severely, however, they can result in a fatality. Don’t let this be you or one of your employees! Read through our guide to learn everything you need to know to keep you and your employees safe.

When Using Extension Leads at Work:

Don’t …

Daisy chain multiple extension strips. This is when multiple strips are plugged into each other to make a longer lead. Don’t do this, it is dangerous and can cause a fire due to overloading. Instead, use extension leads of the right length.

Leave wiring diagram safety plugs on cards. Although the risk of plugs catching fire as a result of this is small, the bigger risk is that the pins aren’t reaching the socket properly. This is dangerous as the earth connection could be compromised. Don’t take the risk, always remove the card.

Wind excess cable around extension leads. Cables generate heat when electricity flows through them. If cable is coiled around your extension lead, this will create a lot of heat which can melt the plastic insulation and cause a fire.

And Instead: Do …

Use the correct fuse ratings. The role of a fuse is simple. It cuts off a circuit when there’s too much current moving through it. The wire inside a fuse melts when this happens. Using the wrong fuse is dangerous because more electricity than allowed can pass through the cable. This can cause a fire.

Keep an eye on fan heaters. Using fan heaters, along with other high amp appliances can quickly make your extension lead unsafe to use. If you must use a fan heater at work, use a separate extension lead for it, and never leave it running overnight.

Use extension leads with surge protection. Although not 100% necessary for common items like lights, they are recommended when sensitive equipment like computers or servers are being used and could become damaged during a surge. They’re only a couple of pounds more than a normal extension lead too.

And Finally …

Conduct a visual check of your extension lead to make sure it is safe to use. If you can answer ‘yes’ to the following questions, your extension lead is probably safe to use:

  • The cable sheath is in good condition with no signs of damage
  • The plug at the end of the cable is intact and free of defects such as cracks
  • The casing of the extension lead is free from cracks or imperfections
  • Wires are free from connections using terminal blocks or insulation tape
  • The cable is gripped firmly inside the plug with no dangerous wiring exposed
  • The earth connection in the plug is secure and hasn’t fallen away
  • There are no scorch marks around sockets to indicate loose connections or faults

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