Outside installation using a domestic 4-gang socket?


Postby chromakey » Mon Sep 06, 2010 8:34 am

Hi - was out over the weekend and saw an electrical safety issue at a commercial visitor paying attraction.

240V single-phase AC dropped from upper floor of a building and lying across the ground outside.

From this cable a normal domestic indoor 4-gang socket lying on damp grass was connected inside an open gazebo (2 cash registers were then run off this socket).

Now I was told the cable that was dropped into the gazebo was rubber sheathed trailing lead and is waterproof and the attached socket is to IP 56 standard. Also the distribution board to which this was connected was protected with RCD's. Furthermore they said the domestic 4 gang extension should not have been left out in wet conditions and there will be no recurrence of this and in future such arrangements will be protected from any damp or wet environments.

By the way, the rubber sheathed cable with the IP 56 socket was "flying" and not anchored to anything, so it was bearing weight directly and could flap around in the wind.

Is all this sufficient regs wise, or should I still be concerned? Seemed like they were relying solely on the 30mA RCD trip if the 4-gang had shorted and I guess they shouldn't be using that outside, RCD or not...?

Thanks, hoping you can give me some quck and simple advice here. I don't want to be a snitch and I have not got it in far anyone there; just trying to prevent someone from being electrocuted...
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Postby ericmark » Mon Sep 06, 2010 10:07 pm

The regulations are written in general terms to allow for the specials and is written for example like this. 132.5.1 Equipment likely to be exposed to weather, corrosive atmospheres or other adverse conditions shall be so constructed or protected as may be necessary to prevent danger arising from such exposure.

It also states:- 411.1 General
Automatic disconnection of supply is a protective measure in which:
(i) basic protection is provided by basic insulation of live parts or by barriers or enclosures, in accordance with Section 416, and
(ii) fault protection is provided by protective earthing, protective equipotential bonding and automatic disconnection in case of a fault, in accordance with Regulations 411.3 to 411.6. Where this protective measure is applied, Class II equipment may also be used. Where specified, the requirements for additional protection shall be provided by an RCD having the characteristics specified in Regulation 415.1.1.

The main thing here is words "Additional" and the RCD is never relied upon. Nearly every accident happens not because of one but a whole stream of faults and so to disregard one protective action is unlikely to cause a problem. Simple safeguards like not touching wet sockets until isolated would likely make most installations unlikely to injure anyone.

If one follows the regulations and some one is injured one can in a court of law prove you showed no negligence. However if there is no accident and one has ignored nearly every safety item it is very hard to show one has commentated a crime. There are two laws. Part P and Health and safety at work act so assuming not in the home only the latter is to be considered and you have to show a worker was put in danger which is not so easy.

We all know it is wrong but to do anything before any one is hurt is always hard and I am not only talking about electric items.

So consider a railway with live rail on the ground and no cameras or detectors to auto disconnect should any one wander onto the line. Maybe from another country and can't read English or too young or with diminished thought process for any reason. We know it should not be allowed but that's the way it is.

And when a non English guy opens the crossing gate to drive through and does not phone the signal box do we blame the rail company for not having a fail safe system when a train hits the lorry. No we blame the wagon driver even though the signs did not even have all 5 British languages Welsh, and the three Gaelics spoken never mind all the EU versions.

So if you touch the power are you get a shock you will be told it's your own silly fault. Even if electrocuted likely will be called miss adventure. Only if guys working are injured would there be any real problem. So don't touch.
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Postby chromakey » Tue Sep 07, 2010 7:04 am

EricMark,

Thank you for taking the time to make that extensive reply; can I ask what you are quoting from; e.g.,

132.5.1 Equipment likely to be exposed to weather...

411.1 General

Section 416

Regulation 415.1.1

Is it Health and safety at work act? I've looked at the online version of this and just got more confused!!!

Also, in a nutshell, in your opinion, am I right in pursuing this any further, say with the owners/employers or the HSE?

Thanks
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Postby ericmark » Tue Sep 07, 2010 11:24 am

There is no on line version of BS7671:2008 it costs around £60 so you should not be able to look it up.

Although what they did likely wrong unless it directly affects you i.e. you work for them then I would do nothing. As likely what ever the HSE says to you they will do very little unless you work for the firm.
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