Putting safety and security first when specifying outdoor power distribution units
Installing a power supply in outdoor spaces is an excellent way to make them more usable and turn what is often an underused asset into something that can generate revenue.
But when thinking about the design of the power distribution network in spaces used by members of the public and employees, safety and security must be top of the priority list.
Any electricity supply in a public place requires very careful consideration to be designed in a way that prevents the risk of electrocution, by accident or by deliberate means, as much as possible.
Complying with the law
There are, of course, severe consequences for site owners and property managers who do not take all reasonable steps to ensure power supplies in public spaces are safe. The HSE clearly states the duties, as an event organiser, to protect the public as follows:
“Event organisers, contractors and others using electrical equipment must do all that is reasonably practicable to ensure that electrical installations and equipment at an event are properly selected, installed and maintained so as not to cause death or injury.”
Given the potential for electrical units to be vandalised and tampered with when they are unattended or cannot be monitored, it is a good idea for the power distribution solution to be concealed or hidden when it is not in use. This could be the times between events, overnight or throughout winter when the weather prevents outdoor events being staged.
Reduce the risk with an on-demand power unit
This is one of the major benefits of a pop up (retractable), in-ground unit or power bollard unit from UK company Pop Up Power Supplies®. None of these power units can be accessed without a key when they are locked and not in use – so only a very dedicated vandal is likely to be able to force open up the units.
With a pop up unit, the electrical sockets stay locked away and submerged in the ground when they not in use. When required, the unit is raised from the ground by authorised users using a simple turning handle and returned to its position in the ground when no longer needed.
An in-ground unit features a flip-lid which is needs to be unlocked for access to power sockets. And once power leads are connected, the flip-lid can be locked down to provide a continuous, unattended power supply.
Power bollards are similar to the pop up units in that they provide power sockets behind a lockable door. The difference is that the bollards are elegantly designed to be a street furniture element, which means the sockets are readily accessible when needed, despite being safely concealed for most of the time.
Reduce trip hazards
Another key safety issue in respect of outdoor power distribution units is the trip hazards that trailing cables present. Clearly these need to be covered with cable protectors where pedestrian traffic will be present, but it is best practice to minimise the cable lengths in the first place to reduce the risk further.
Here is where the positioning of power distribution units can help. When looking at the site to determine where the units need to be installed, consider the site usage requirements. Where will the users position their market stalls, signage, food takeaways, etc.? Make sure there are enough power units to meet the required usage too, so there is less risk of trailing cables having to run across the length of the site to plug in to a power unit.
Ultimately, however, there is no margin for error with electrical safety in the public realm, so if you have any uncertainties about the safety and security of a proposed power distribution solution seek specialist help.
For specification advice and design guidance contact Pop Up Power Supplies® by emailing email@example.com or call 020 8227 0208.
Find out more about the Pop Up Power Supplies® range at http://www.popuppower.co.uk.