Video- Safe Isolation Procedure For Electricians by Chris Kitcher

by Editor on November 12, 2012

The safe isolation procedure is probably the most important thing that you’ll ever need to know as an electrician.

Are you a competent person and do you follow the correct procedures for correct isolation of supply? If an accident should happen (even to yourself) because you were found to be negligent then you could be liable for prosecution under the Health and Safety At Work Act. Employers of electricians should have a safe isolation procedure in place and should supply all the relevant training, safety equipment, PPE and signage.

Since the year 2000, over 30 people (mostly electricians) have been killed by electrocution at work.

This video from Chris Kitcher shows the basic safe isolation procedures for low voltage (less than 1000 volts) systems.

If you’re an electrician carrying out any type of electrical work it’s very important to know the correct procedure to isolate the supply safely.

Every electrician should have the following equipment to ensure safe isolation and lock-off:

  • Voltage Tester
  • Proving Unit
  • Padlocks
  • Lock-Offs for switches and circuit breakers
  • Warning Signs or labels

Important- Whenever you carry out electrical isolation, the point of distribution must be under your control until you re-energize.

Here is a list of the basic Safe Isolation Procedures:

  1. Ask permission of the client to isolate and make sure that anyone affected is told that the power will be shut down. A Permit To Work, Method Statement or Risk Assessment may be required in some cases.
  2. Check that the supply is live using an approved GS38 voltage indicator.
  3. Test between L-N for each phase, L-E for each phase and then N-E to make sure voltage and connections are present and correct.¬†¬† Tip- If it’s a working appliance or piece of equipment it’s a good idea to check if it operates correctly before you start work.
  4. Identify the circuit at the Distribution board or point of supply and isolate. Tip- Never take it for granted that the circuit is labelled up correctly. Always test and double check that it is dead.
  5. Lock-off the switch or breaker and fix a danger warning sign to indicate that you are working on the circuit. Tip-You must keep the key yourself so that only you can unlock and re-energize the circuit. Make sure there is only one unique key for that padlock and you keep it safe. If more than one electrician are working on a circuit then a multi lock device must be used to lock-off the breaker. Each padlock would then need to be removed with their own unique key before re-energizing the circuit.
  6. Return to the load and verify that it has now been isolated by repeating step 2.
  7. Double check that your approved voltage indicator is still working by testing it with a proving unit or on a known live source to make sure it hasn’t failed during the test.

Tip- Turning off a breaker will normally only isolate the live conductor. If you’re not sure about the condition of the electrical installation and don’t trust the circuit arrangements or isolation devices then isolate both the live and neutral¬† conductors by turning off the main DP switch where possible.

Tip- If a circuit needs to be isolated for any length of time it could be an option to disconnect it completely (Lives & Neutral) from the point of distribution.

Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 covers all electrical work including safe isolation of electrical supplies.
In short it states that:
Every circuit must have it’s own means of isolation.
Adequate precautions must be taken to ensure isolated circuits are not re-energized during work being carried out.
It is illegal to work live on any system unless exceptional conditions are met.

The three regulations that relate to safe isolation procedures (12, 13 & 14) can be found in the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.

12. Means for cutting off the supply and for isolation.
13. Precautions for work on equipment made dead.
14. Work on, or near live conductors.

The ESC Guide to safe isolation states that only the correct equipment must be used. Multi meters and non-contact testers such as volt sticks are not deemed suitable.

More info about Safe Isolation Procedures.

You can view the ECS Safe Isolation Best Practice Guide pdf.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Eric Preton December 6, 2014 at 12:45

very good information for trainee electrician

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