RCD’s & Leads – protection against electrical shock

Electricity is a familiar and necessary part of our everyday lives, but if the risks are not effectively managed, it can be extremely dangerous, causing damage to people and property.

Residual current devices (RCDs) 

All hand-held appliances, light sources, and other electrical equipment used on-site must have protection in place against electric shock, and this can be done simply by ensuring that all electrical equipment is supplied with electricity through an RCD. 

An RCD constantly monitors the electric current flowing along a circuit, and if an RCD detects a fault, it quickly disconnects the electricity supply – reducing the risk of electrical shock. 

There are three types of RCD:

Fixed at the switchboard

  • A switchboard RCD is the best option in most situations. It protects all the electrical wiring and appliances supplied from that circuit. An electrician or electrical inspector must install a switchboard RCD.

Built into the power point

  • A socket-outlet RCD is built into a standard power point to provide protection to equipment plugged into that power point and, if required, downstream protection of other power points. An electrician must install a socket-outlet RCD.


  • A portable RCD can be moved from power point to power point as needed. There are a few different types of portable RCD: 
    • Some plug directly into a power point. An appliance or extension lead then plugs into the portable RCD. 
    • Some are built into extension leads or individual appliance leads. 
    • Some are built into Portable socket-outlet assemblies (PSOAs). 

No electrician is needed – you can buy a portable RCD at a hardware shop or electrical equipment supplier, just make sure they are fit for commercial use. 

Both portable and non-portable RCDs should be tested every day.


Keep you and your team safe while working around electricity by checking your RCD (using the test button) daily before use. Get RCDs tested by a trained and competent person regularly – at least every three months.

Leads & Cords

Leads and cords are easily damaged, particularly those connected to equipment that is often moved. Make sure leads and cords are suitably set up and protected: 

  • Protect leads and cords from damage. Protection may include drop-over cable protectors, cord covers, non-conductive lead hooks, and cable ramps. Damage can be caused by: 
    • Sharp edges and sharp objects 
    • Shoes, boots, or other footwear 
    • Doors 
    • Moving vehicles 
    • Other mechanical forces 
    • Water, oil, and other liquids 
    • Grease 
    • Heat. 
  • Arrange leads and cords so that people won’t trip on them. 
  • Avoid running leads across aisles or passages. 
  • Raise leads up rather than running them across the ground. Raised leads and plugs should be easy for workers to reach without a ladder. 
  • Remove strain on plugs by using insulated supports. 
  • Ensure that leads and cords are checked prior to use for damage and it is also recommended that they are tested and tagged regularly by a competent person

Check out our one-pager on Electrical Safety you can print and hang up at work so everyone can do their part to manage the risks of electrical shock on-site

When you complete your regular Site Reviews using the HazardCo App, make sure that you are checking RCD’s and all other electrical equipment are in good working condition and have recently been tested and tagged. Electrical equipment should be tested and tagged every 3 months for construction, every 6 months for manufacturing, and every 12 months for low-use spaces such as offices.

Of course, reach out to HazardCo and speak to one of our expert Health and Safety Advisors if you have any questions or need more support on this topic. You can contact us on 0800 555 339.

Sign up for health and safety updates and advice
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Meeting your health and safety requirements shouldn’t be a chore. Instead, it should be an easy, functional and productive part of your day. With HazardCo, that is exactly what it becomes.

For a 7 day no obligation trial of HazardCo, just fill in your information and take control of your on-site Health & Safety.

By submitting you agree to our Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy.