“As huge numbers of people in Aberconwy continue to work at home and adapt to a new routine, many may be putting themselves at unnecessary risk due to unsafe electrical setups and practices at home” says Janet Finch-Saunders AM.
The Member has joined with leading consumer Charity, Electrical Safety First, who conducted research across Wales into the dangers to which remote workers in Aberconwy may be unknowingly exposing themselves.
With increased use of electrical equipment in many homes such as work laptops, tablets, phones and heaters, a new survey by the Charity has found more than two thirds of those in Wales currently working from home are using extension leads or adaptors with the electronic device they’re working on[i] and almost half of them have more appliances plugged into one than they usually would.[ii]
Worryingly, almost a third are either unaware of the risks of overloading plug sockets or how to check whether they’re doing so.[iii] By using extension leads and adaptors to plug additional devices into a socket, there is a danger that they could be overloaded, creating a fire risk.
Even more concerning is the fact that over half of those in Wales currently working from home using extension leads or adapters as part of their setup who admit to ‘daisy-chaining’ them together.[iv] Daisy-chaining involves plugging one extension into another in order to reach further or plug more appliances in, and is advised against in all circumstances.
Another issue identified by the Charity is misuse of electrical goods in the bedroom, with 52 per cent of those surveyed in Wales either often or sometimes placing an electrical item such as a laptop or phone on their bed whilst it is charging as part of their work-from-home setup.[v] This can also create a fire risk due to the potential of the item overheating. Electrical items should only ever be left on hard, non-flammable surfaces unless switched off and not charging.
Electrical Safety First is recommending those working from home take advantage of the Charity’s Socket Overload Calculator to check they’re not plugging too many appliances in at once, and to pay extra attention to their electrical safety during their period of remote working.
“Many people in Aberconwy are home working, self-isolating or social distancing at this time but this can increase chances of unsafe use of electricity. That’s why I’ve joined with Electrical Safety First to help raise awareness of easy steps you can take to seriously reduce the risk to you and your loved ones.
“Remember to check electrical appliances, don’t overload sockets and NEVER use faulty items or white goods. Extension leads can only handle so much power – plug too many things in and the chances are they will blow. Faulty goods can also be a big issue, too. If your washing machine or tumble dryer starts playing up – stop using it and get it checked immediately.”
Robert Jervis-Gibbons, Public Affairs Manager at Electrical Safety First, commented:
“We are really grateful to Janet for joining with us to raise awareness of the safe use of electricity when working from home. With more than three quarters of those in Wales who are currently working from home doing so for the first time due to COVID-19,[vi] it’s unsurprising that not everyone will have had a chance to ensure their work stations are free from electrical hazards.
“Take a few minutes to make sure you’re not daisy-chaining extension leads or overloading your plug sockets and that you are charging your devices on hard, non-flammable surfaces. We should all pay extra attention to electrical safety during our period of remote working. For more detail as well as some helpful tools, head to www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk ”
Electrical Safety Firsts tips on working safely from home:
- Don’t charge electrical items on beds. Always charge on a hard, flat, non-flammable surface. Avoid overloading sockets and extension leads, use our online socket calculator to check
- Keep your workstation tidy. Many may be working in a small workspace and it’s important to keep your hot and cold drinks away from electrical items.
- Be mindful of cables, they can present a trip hazard to you and others in your home
- Don’t « daisy chain » extension leads. If your cable doesn’t reach don’t plug it into another adaptor. Move your workspace closer to the socket or use a longer lead.
- Be mindful at lunchtime. With many of us cooking lunch at home for the time being it’s important not to get distracted by emails or work calls that may result in the hob being left on, unattended.
[i] Research commissioned by Electrical Safety First and conducted by Censuswide surveying 3,000 people who are currently working from home in the UK, 79 of whom were in Wales, found that 68.7% of respondents in Wales answered ‘Yes’ to the question ‘In your home working setup, are you currently using any extension leads or adaptors with the electronic device you are working on?’
[ii] Above research found that 48.7% of respondents in Wales answered ‘More’ to the question ‘During your time working from home, do you have more or less appliances plugged into an extension lead or adaptor than usual?’,
[iii] Above research found that 30.4% of those surveyed in Wales who are currently using extension leads or adaptors in their home working setup answered either ‘I am unaware of the potential risks or how to check that I'm not overloading’, ‘I am aware of the potential risks but unaware how to check that I'm not overloading’ or ‘I don't think there are any potential risks that might be involved with plugging appliances into the same socket using a multi socket adaptor’ to the question ‘Are you currently aware of any potential risks that might be involved with plugging appliances into the same socket using a multi socket adaptor and how to check if you are overloading the socket?’
[iv] Above research found that 51.9% of those surveyed in Wales who are currently using an extension lead or adaptors on the device they are working on, answered ‘yes’ to the question ‘Do you currently have any extension leads or adaptors ‘daisy-chained’ together as part of your working from home set up (plugging one extension into another, in order to reach further or plug more appliances in)?’
[v] Above research found that 52.2% of those surveyed in Wales answered either ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’ to the question ‘During your time working from home, how often do you place an electrical device such as a laptop, phone or tablet on your bed while it is plugged in and charging?’
[vi] Above research found that 75.65% of respondents answered ‘Yes’ to the question ‘Has the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic led to you working from home for the first time?’