Outdoor Electrical Safety in Hospitality

A growing number of pubs, restaurants and cafés are utilising outdoor spaces to enhance their customer experience and to expand their business. External lighting, heating and other electrical equipment can introduce unexpected dangers to colleagues and customers. We are reminding you to stop and consider the risk associated with your existing electrical system and to thoroughly risk assess your outdoor electrics.

Environmental Health Officers may ask you questions about your outdoor electrical equipment when they visit. Please read and implement the following advice to keep your premises safe.

Qualified and competent electrician

All businesses including pubs, restaurants, cafés and hotels have a duty to ensure that electrical equipment is compatible with the fixed installation and that it is properly installed and maintained by a competent person. You can use the National Inspection Council of Electrical Installation (NICEIC) list of approved contractors or you can check if your electrician is a member of NAPIT or the ECA (Electrical Contractors Association).

To find or check the competency of an electrician, you can find links to these organisations at the bottom of this page.

Your electrical installation including sockets
  • Check that your installation has been inspected within the last 5 years and that you have an Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC) or an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)
  • Keep certificates and records of work undertaken by electricians
  • Regularly check your outside electrical installations for damage caused by weather, physical abrasions  or animals
  • Make sure you and others in control are trained and competent to know how to isolate equipment or parts of the installation to reduce danger when safety issues are identified
  • Make sure you have emergency procedures in place to keep customers and staff away from any electrical danger
Before installing any outdoor plug-in equipment
  • Consider using extra low voltage or solar equipment to provide a safer installation
  • Only select equipment that is suitable for outdoor use (usually minimum rating IP44)
  • Check that equipment is not damaged, particularly if it has been in storage
  • Ensure that the existing electrical installation is in good condition and compatible with the equipment to be installed
  • Ensure that the existing electrical installation is able to accommodate the electrical load to prevent overloading
  • Ensure that the equipment is only connected to a socket or installation protected by a suitable residual current device (RCD). An RCD is one of the most important electrical safety devices in the home or commercial environment
  • Ensure that sockets are in good condition, suitable for use outside if appropriate and in a location where they won't be accessed or damaged by customers
  • Remove equipment from its packaging before installation
  • Switch off the electrical supply before connecting
During installation and when using the equipment
  • Read and follow the manufacturer's instructions and keep them safe for future reference
  • Ensure that equipment is installed in locations where it will not be damaged and away from flammable materials and decorations
  • Check frequently for damage to equipment and replace failed lamps as appropriate
  • Always switch off before replacing lamps and use the correct replacement lamp
  • Keep equipment packaging for any future storage
  • If equipment is stored, ensure that it is not in damp or excessively hot conditions
Last updated 13 October 2023
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