ACR Journal

August | September 2021 Volume 7 No.5 30 ELECTRICAL By their very nature, air conditioning and refrigeration systems and equipment rely on electricity and feature a number of electrical circuits. Whilst you may not be required to have a complete set of electrical qualifications to install and maintain this equipment, you most certainly need an understanding of what’s involved, and you must be able to competently and safely isolate such equipment from the electrical supply if you are to work on the equipment. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is quite clear that live work should never be undertaken where there is the option to work dead. By introducing a robust safe isolation procedure, compliance with the latest standards is assured, helping to reduce the number of electricity-related injuries and fatalities within the workplace whilst also avoiding significant financial penalties and consequential losses. Safe isolation seems relatively simple – you identify the point of isolation, lock it off and label it - but to establish real confidence around your safe isolation procedure, you need to create a more rigorous electrical safety process. And that requires you to prove that the circuit is dead, then verify that the equipment you have used to confirm the circuit is dead is actually working. These are critical components of the overall safe isolation process, so let’s look at each step in more detail. STEP 1: Identify the point of isolation, lock off and tag The first port of call is to identify the point of isolation. Before you do anything further, ensure you have gained permission to isolate from this point. It seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many times this slips people’s minds. Once permission has been granted, you can lock off and place warning tags onto the equipment. Lock-off kits are available to ensure that a suitable locking-off device is always to hand. A basic lock-off kit should include a selection of MCB locks, a padlock with a unique key, a hasp if more than one person is working on a system, as well as lockout tags and warning labels. If an accident were to occur, it’s not enough to say that you didn’t have the right device for the circuit because you could isolate the board. If you can turn equipment off but can’t isolate it at the point of connection, trace the supply back to a point where it can be safely locked off. Paul Wilson, UK & Ireland sales manager at Martindale Electric, explains how safe electrical isolation can be achieved and why ignorance is no excuse. Three steps to foolproof isolation Paul Wilson

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