We often hear about electrical accidents in commercial buildings, industries, and other facilities that cause huge losses like equipment, infrastructure and even human lives. These accidents often result from faulty or unsafe electrical practices or unnoticed worn-out electrical systems. The severity of the accident is increased with the absence of proper safety equipment or techniques. To eliminate such instances and accidents a periodic and thorough examination of all electrical installations in such facilities is required. This is the main objective of Electrical safety auditing. An electrical safety auditing is a systematic enquiry, inspection, testing and verification of the electrical systems performed by experienced professionals to reduce the risk and ensure compliance with the safety standards and regulations of the government.
Facilities for Electrical Safety Auditing:
- Industrial areas, factories etc
- Commercial spaces
- Electrical distribution houses
- Institutions and organisations
Objectives of Electrical Safety Auditing:
As mentioned above, the major aim of electrical safety auditing is to identify and eliminate the potential electrical hazards and increase the safety of an industrial or commercial area or any such building. Other objectives include:
a) Understanding the electrical performance and possible safety hazards in the system.
b) Increase the safety of equipment and personnel.
c) Improving the energy efficiency of the system and efficient use of resources.
d) Improving the life of electrical equipment and installations.
e) Identifying the possible improvements in safety techniques and practices
f) Checking compliance with safety standards and regulations.
Scope of Electrical Safety Auditing:
The main goal of electrical safety is electrical hazard identification and risk assessment, as mentioned above. Let us now look into this assessment in detail. Following are the ways in which the degree of safety is measured, and some recommendations to reduce or eliminate the dangers of electrical hazards in a facility.
1) Check the earth resistance of earth pits and sockets.
2) Review of electrical preventive maintenance program within the facility.
3) Review the shutdown procedure, work permits, lock-out tags etc.
4) Review of earthing and lightning protection systems present in the factory/ plant/ facility to ensure human and equipment safety.
5) Review electrical networks and systems within the facility, focusing on the adequacy and functionality of protection devices.
6) Review of electrical documents like the register of electrical installations, single line diagrams, test records (transformer oil test, insulation resistance test, earth resistance test etc.) and data sheets of critical electrical installations.
7) Checking the hotspots within the electrical installations and equipment using a thermal imager.
8) Verification of proper warning signs and labelling of electrical panels, and other equipment.
9) Review of fireside system protection.
10) Review the records of coaching and competency of employees and contractors performing the trade.
11) Review the records of employees associated with electrical safety, electrical hazard management at the workplace etc.
12) Identify the training needs of personnel related to electrical safety.
Methodology of Electrical Safety Auditing:
The electrical safety auditing includes the review of the documentation, on-site visit, data collection, analysis and data verification with respect to industry norms and peer data. Let us look at the steps in detail.
A pre-audit or audit planning meeting is the first opening meeting to discuss the guidelines with the management and other concerned departments. The onsite activities, procedures and preparation for the actual audit are done.
The site visit is done to identify the electrical hazards as per the scope of the audit. This includes inspection of all the electrical systems such as the incoming supply receiving section, all electrical equipment in the facility, cabling, earthing connections, lightning protection system, temporary wiring, possible electrical fire hazards etc. The verification of the installations is done with reference to the available drawings such as the single line diagrams, earthing layouts, etc.
A review of all relevant documents regarding maintenance, testing, electrical inspection reports and other electrical records is done for the assessment of the facility.
Audit closing meeting:
The audit team meets and discusses their findings and recommendations with the members of the facility.
Final report submission:
Submission of the final electrical safety audit report to the client, with the recommendations and the agreed changes according to it.
The above-given steps complete the electrical safety auditing for a facility. By understanding the objectives, scope and methodology of performing an electrical safety auditing we learn its importance. We see that Electrical Safety Audit is a very important fact-finding exercise and gap analysis study focused on electrical issues to ensure the safety and reliability of the electrical installations. For any existing plant with no history of any electrical issues, a third-party audit can be conducted every 5 years. This is for the safety of the facility and the personnel working there and should be strictly followed.
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