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Tue, 4 August 2020

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Poor advice increases electrical risk for gardeners

Electrical Safety First

2 min read Member content

Electrical Safety First is calling on the manufacturers of electrically powered garden equipment, such as lawn mowers and hedge trimmers, to improve safety advice on packaging and instruction manuals - as research reveals they cause thousands of injuries a year.

“Over a quarter of a million people – 300,000 – require hospital treatment each year following an electrical accident in the garden. That’s a third of all gardeners”, explains Phil Buckle, Director General of Electrical Safety First.

“The most common cause is cutting through the cable of a lawn mower or hedge trimmer2 but many people don’t realise this can cause severe electric shock and even kill.”

Electrical Safety First believes manufacturers have a responsibility to warn gardeners of the risk of using high-powered electrical equipment, yet the Charity’s recent mystery shopping exercise found that the guidance given is insufficient.

“The safest way to minimise electrical dangers in the garden is by using an RCD, which rapidly disconnects the current if there is a fault – such as cutting through a cable”, adds Phil. “But when we reviewed instruction manuals for electrical garden tools, we found that the information on RCDs was quite difficult to understand and some manuals suggested they are most useful when it’s raining – seemingly playing down the risk during more clement weather.”

Electrical Safety First wants this guidance to be much clearer, particularly since research shows many people don’t read the safety instructions that come with electrical equipment. And it appears that men tend to put themselves more at risk, as they are less likely than women to read instruction manuals.

However, Electrical Safety First believes there are some simple solutions which could help reduce electrical accidents in the garden. The Charity has suggested making RCDs as standard with lawn mowers and hedge trimmers – or attaching a tag to the plug of a product warning about the dangers.

More information on garden safety can be found at: electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/gardening

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