As a result of UK government planning in the 1940’s to improve building standards, shutters were implemented on all sockets to prevent users from touching live parts within. When a plug is removed from a socket, the shutters close.
BS 1363 and BS 1363-2 remain to this day as a strict legal requirement. Socket covers also exist. However, many UK organisations, including the UK Government, RoSPA, Ofsted, Child Accident Prevention Trust and Electrical Safety First strongly oppose their use.
Socket covers can compromise the shutter safety feature on a socket, putting the user at increased risk of electric shock because the live parts are exposed.
Why you shouldn’t use socket covers
Socket covers can be inserted upside down into a socket’s earth pin. This opens the safety shutters and potentially exposes the user to live components. However, this isn’t the only danger of socket covers.
Socket covers are often a different size to plugs. This can make them easy to remove by children who could plug them in upside down, exposing the shutter and revealing them to live parts.
Some shutters even pop out themselves without being pulled. While they can also damage the socket shutter, some have been known for snapping off, leaving the shutter open and exposing the live components. Socket covers with oversized pins have also been known for causing electrical fires.
MK also oppose the use of socket covers
MK, the UK’s leading manufacturer of wiring devices, is another organisation against the use of socket covers. They believe they compromise the safety feature of sockets, putting people in danger.
MK believes that for socket protectors to become safe in the UK and EU, they need to use plug pin dimensions which conform to BS 1361-1. They also think that more robust materials need to be used for the manufacture of socket covers. This is so that people cannot place them in the earth shutter mechanism. Finally, they believe that socket covers require a larger surface area so that apertures are correctly covered, meaning people won’t be exposed to live contacts.
Don’t Use Socket Covers. Socket Shutters are Enough to Keep You Safe
Shutters have been a critical feature of UK manufactured sockets for the last 80 years, covering exposed live parts and reducing the risk of electric shock.
Most UK organisations, including the government, agree that socket covers aren’t safe and can compromise the inbuilt safety feature of sockets.
Children like to play with socket covers. If they are plugged into an earth pin upside down, the shutters remain open, and the live components become exposed. This can result in electric shock. Safety covers have also been known to start house fires as in most cases their plastic pins aren’t the correct size for sockets.