What are the dangers of using electrical equipment in the garden?
Although electricity makes gardening much easier, wet conditions and contact with the ground means that the risk of injury or death from electric shock is greatly increased compared to using electrical equipment indoors. Many garden accidents are the result of handling equipment carelessly, lack of concentration and failure to follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions. By following simple safety guidelines every time you work in a garden, you can easily avoid a serious accident.
Why do I need a residual current device (RCD) when using electrical equipment outdoors?
When using electrical equipment outdoors, RCD protection can be a lifesaver. Without it, if you cut through an electrical lead, a simple job like mowing the lawn could turn into a deadly disaster. An RCD provides a level of protection against electric shock that normal fuses and circuit-breakers cannot provide. All equipment such as lawnmowers, hedge trimmers and other power tools, when used outdoors, should only be plugged into a socket protected by an RCD.
If you haven’t got sockets that are RCD protected, buy a good-quality portable RCD from a reputable source. Whatever the type of RCD you have in your home, you should test it quarterly by using the ‘test’ button on the device. You should test portable RCDs every time you use them.
Extension leads, cables and connections
If you do not check the condition of extension leads, cable and connections and use them correctly, you could get an electric shock.
For safety make sure they are:
- Suitable for outdoor use – weather resistant with moulded connections that prevent moisture seeping in;
- Rated correctly to suit the equipment connected;
- Properly plugged in especially in-line connectors;
- Uncoiled to prevent overheating;
- Kept clean and free from damage;
- Replaced if damage is found;
- Positioned appropriately to prevent them being damaged; and
- Kept dry
If an ‘inline-connector’ is required it must be correctly connected to the flexible cable ends by a competent person in order to avoid danger from any incorrect connections being made which might result in serious injury or death!
The plug MUST be UNPLUGGED from the main socket-outlet BEFORE:
ANY work is carried out on the electrical equipment,
the 2 halves of the inline-connector are separated
The plug MUST NOT be plugged back in UNTIL:
work carried out on the electrical equipment has been correctly completed,
both halves of the inline-connector are firmly connected together.
Mowing the lawn/Cutting the hedge
Lawnmowers and hedge trimmers have sharp blades and rapidly moving parts, which can damage or cut through electrical cables as easily as grass. The risk of electric shock from a damaged cable is high.
- do not cut the grass or hedge in wet conditions;
- wear sensible footwear to protect your feet;
- check the cables, connections and plugs before use;
- keep the cable clear of the cutting area; and
- before clearing blockages or carrying out maintenance, unplug the lawnmower or hedge trimmer and wait for the blades to stop moving.