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Use and Maintenance of Electrical Products

Rules regarding the proper condition of electrical equipment an installations

In order to avoid accidents, certain requirements apply to the use and maintenance of electrical products. For the workplace, they are stipulated in the Operational Safety Ordinance (BetrSichV). The operating manual is particularly important for private users.

"Usage" in this context means all measures relating to an electrical apparatus (§ 2 (3) BetrSichV). This includes testing, putting into operation, shutdown, usage, repair and maintenance, testing, safety measures during operation disruption, removal as well as disassembly and transport.

The most important principles during usage are:

  • intended usage according to the specifications of the manufacturer and
  • periodic check of the proper condition of electrical products.

The requirements in terms of using electrical products are laid down in the Operational Safety Ordinance (Betriebssicherheitsverordnung) for application in the commercial sector.

If quality requirements are not respected or if electrical products are used improperly, this can lead to accidents. The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) has investigated such accidents, i.e. electrical accidents at work and in the private sector. In BAuA's resulting research report Fb 941, the authors conclude that "the causes of electrical accidents are primarily found in behavioural errors". This means that the improper use of electrical equipment and installations - i.e. handling or repairs - and a lack of maintenance lead to accidents.

There are no technical measures for these cases. Educated information remains the only means of prevention here. In the commercial sector, this translates to guidance: Employees must be informed adequately, in particular about the hazards associated with the use of electrical products. Employees who carry out repairs, maintenance and reconstruction work require special instructions (§ 9 BetrSichV).

Operating instructions - the most important source of information for private users

The private sector is not subject to occupational safety regulation. This is why it is particularly important that private users are informed about the hazards that can arise from the electrical products. The most important source of information is the manufacturers' operating instructions. These documents describe the following:

  • what the product is to be used for (intended use),
  • which persons are excluded from use (e.g. small children, carriers of implanted medical devices),
  • under which environmental conditions the product may be used
  • which application is excluded,
  • what dangers can be experienced in case of misapplication (warnings),
  • if applicable an assembly instructions manual,
  • whether and by whom maintenance is to be carried out,
  • what to do in the case of a malfunction.

In addition, there are numerous pages on the Internet dealing with questions of electrical safety in the private sector.

Information of the manufacturer as a basis for hazard assessment

In the commercial sector, the manufacturer's data can serve as a basis for the hazard assessment. Based on the hazard assessment, the employer makes the necessary arrangements and ensures that the provisions of the applicable regulations for electrical products are observed during the entire operating period.

You can find the regulations regarding quality requirements for electrical products on the page "Basic requirements for quality".

In order to specify the requirements of the Operational Safety Ordinance, the Committee on Occupational Safety (Ausschuss für Betriebssicherheit, ABS) has issued the Technical Rules on Operational Safety (Technische Regeln zur Betriebssicherheit, TRBS). The following TRBSs are to be used for the operation of electrical workstations or products:

  • TRBS 1111 "Hazard assessment and safety assessment"
  • TRBS 1201 "Testing of work equipment and equipment requiring supervision"
  • TRBS 1203 "Qualified Persons"
  • TRBS 2210 "Hazards derived from interactions"

Whoever uses electrical equipment and installations must also comply with the requirements of the German Social Accident Insurance (Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung, DGUV) Regulation 3 "Electrical systems and equipment" as well as the Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies (Verband der Elektrotechnik, Elektronik und Informationstechnik, VDE) Regulation 0105-100: "Operation of electrical equipment, Part 100: General requirements".