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Electricity in the Work Place  - Supplying Electrical Equipment - Plugs & Sockets

The Plugs And Sockets (Safety) Regulations 1994

If you supply electrical equipment in the course of your business or have it in your possession with a view to supply then it must be safe. Supply includes sale and hire. Supply includes making it available as part of a holiday let or in a guest house or in furnished lettings. Letting agents and landlords are liable as suppliers. 

Plugs, sockets and adapters are covered by The Plugs And Sockets (Safety) Regulations 1994

Electrical Equipment Supplied in the Course of a Business:

The Regulations apply to anyone who supplies any plugs, sockets, adapters or fuses intended for domestic use, with a working voltage of not less than 200 volts, and also to the supply of any appliance which has a plug fitted.  They impose the obligation on the supplier of such goods to ensure that they are 'safe', so that there is no risk of death or personal injury to humans or pets, or risk of damage to property.

When purchasing such items, your supplier should only be selling items which comply but if you make those items available to third parties in the course of your business – eg in holiday accommodation or part of a furnished letting or as part of a services/equipment hire arrangement – then you are also liable.

Both sets of Regulations relate to:

all mains voltage household electric goods including cookers, kettles, toasters, electric blankets, washing machines, immersion heaters, etc but as the regulations do not apply to items attached to land, they do not extend to fixed electrical wiring and built-in appliances (eg. cental heating systems)

the supply of electrical equipment designed with a working voltage of between 50 & 1000 volts a.c. (or between 75 & 1500 d.c)

The Regulations Require that:

that any plug, socket or adapter which is supplied for domestic use comply with the appropriate current standard.  This means that they must conform to the relevant British Standards (i.e. BS1363) or approved alternatives.  British Standard BS1363 covers 13 Amp fused plugs, switched and unswitched sockets.  The standard now requires that the live and neutral pins on plugs are part insulated so as to prevent shocks when removing plugs from sockets.

that plugs be fitted with a fuse that conforms to BS1362, i.e. the standard for general purpose fuses for domestic or similar purposes.  The fuses also need to be rated correctly either in accordance with the appliance manufacturers instructions or to BS1362.

that where any appliance is supplied which is designed to connect to a socket, directly or indirectly, it has a plug which conforms to BS1363 (as above).  The appliances covered by the Regulations operate at not less than 200 volts and not more than 13 Amp and also have a flexible cable or cord for connecting to a socket. (Most appliances are now supplied with cords with moulded-on mains plugs).

that a standard or conversion plug be legibly marked or labelled identifying it as approved.

that any necessary information to operate the plug safely will be either marked on the plug or provided in a notice  accompanying it.  This information must be given in English.

When purchasing such items, your supplier should only be selling items which comply but if you make those items available to third parties in the course of your business – eg in holiday accommodation or part of a furnished letting – then you are also liable.

Appliances which have a non-UK plug that complies to the international safety standard IEC 884-1 can be supplied with am approved conversion plug.  Conversion plugs enable non-UK plugs to be engaged with UK sockets. 

What Action Should You Take?

Check all plugs for the correct markings or notices and replace any plugs which do not conform.

Check all plugs have the correctly rated fuses.  With many plugs this can be done by looking at the recess in the plug, or by lifting the fuse carrier.  Typical fuse ratings for 220-240 voltage equipment: up to 750 watts - 3 Amp, up to 1250 Watts -5 Amp, over 1250 Watts -13 Amp.

Plugs to a more resilient standard, e.g. to BS1363/A, should be used where heavier wear and tear is met, for example on vacuum cleaners where plugs may be dropped onto the floor.

Avoid purchasing second-hand appliances and plugs.


All mains electrical equipment, new or second-hand, that is “supplied”, including supplied with accommodation, must be safe.  If it complies with, and continues to comply with a currently acceptable standard, e.g. a British / European Standard, then it will normally meet the safety requirements.

Electrical equipment should be provided with instructions for safe use.

Electrical appliances must be correctly fitted with an approved plug with sleeved pins.  All plugs should carry the name and reference number of the approved body, normally BSI or ASTA. 

The plug does not have to be moulded on but it must have the correct fuse for the appliance.

These Regulations do not apply to the fixed electrical and lighting circuits.

Section 39 of the Consumer Protection Act provides a defence of 'due diligence'. It is a defence under the Act if you can show that you took all reasonable steps and exercised all due diligence to avoid committing the offence.   A letting agent who simply requests confirmation from the landlord is unlikely to be able to rely on this defence.

Letting Agents and Landlords

It is strongly recommended that equipment be checked by a qualified electrician before the start of each let and at regular intervals thereafter. The Trading Standards Authority advise you not to supply used electric blankets, as their history, usage and condition may be unknown.

Contact us to help you conduct a full risk assessment of your premises

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Additional Reading:

Quick Guide - Electricity in the Workplace

Quick Guide - Testing and Maintaining Electrical Equipment

Quick Guide - Supplying Electrical Equipment in the Course of a Business

Quick Guide - Plugs and Sockets