Electrical safety charity warns that home workers in lockdown across Burnley Pendle and Ribble Valley could be putting themselves at risk

Thousands of people across Burnley, Pendle and the Ribble Valley have spent the past five weeks working from home due to the Covid 19 lockdown.

And Electrical Safety First has discovered that many home workers may be overloading sockets, daisy-chaining and charging devices on beds.

The consumer safety charity has warned that, for many, that by adapting to a new working routine they may be putting themselves at unnecessary risk due to unsafe electrical setups and practices at home.

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Research conducted by Electrical Safety First, an organisation dedicated to reducing and preventing damage, injuries and death caused by electricity, has looked into the dangers to which a nation of newly remote workers may be unknowingly exposing themselves.

An electrical safety charity has warned that home workers could be putting themselves at risk througth dangerous working practises

With increased use of electrical equipment in many homes such as work laptops, tablets, phones and heaters, its survey has found nearly 69% of those in the North West currently working from home are using extension leads or adaptors with the electronic device they’re working on and more than 40% of them have more appliances plugged into one than they usually would.

Worryingly, over a third of those who are using extension leads or adaptors at home are either unaware of the risks of overloading plug sockets or how to check whether they’re doing so.

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 a third of those in the North West currently working from home using extension leads or adapters as part of their setup who admit to ‘daisy-chaining’ them together.

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 bad behaviour in the bedroom, with well over half of those surveyed in North West 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.

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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.

The research was undertaken from March 19th to the 25th by Censuswide with a sample of 3,000 employed adults across the United Kingdom, all of whom are currently working from home, of whom 288 were in the North West.

Lesley Rudd, Chief Executive of Electrical Safety First, said: “With more than two thirds of those currently working from home in the North Westt, doing so for the first time due to COVID-19, 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.

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"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."

Rick Hylton, Lead for Home Safety at the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), echoed the charity’s concerns, saying: "As many people set up temporary home offices and adjust to a new way of working, there could potentially be a rise in electrical fires.

"So, the fire service ask that you check you have working smoke alarms and a practised escape plan in case there is a fire. But also make sure you follow the simple advice to reduce your risk of an electrical fire.

"These fires are often preventable and the advice will not only keep you working safely at home but reduce the pressure on the fire service.”

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Electrical Safety Firsts tips on working safely from home include:

* 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

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* 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.