Electrical DB lockout and access regulation

Information security people want electrical distribution boards to be locked, writes Schalk Grobbelaar. Rob Allcock responds with legal and practical advice.

IT security people are adamant that electrical DBs should be locked, no matter how impractical that sounds. “The only way we can get this item removed from their annual security review, is to either lock down, or to get bylaws from the municipality to states that it was illegal to lock DBs, if such bylaws existed.”

Electrical Machinery Regulation

Rob Allcock responds; See the OHS Act Electrical Machinery Regulation (ERM) 4 requirement. The last paragraph requires “locked or bolted”.

Locking of electrical distribution boxes may be impractical only if circuit breakers keep tripping and one needs to continuously reset them.

This may or may not be the root cause, but it would treat only the effect and not the cause.

Perhaps the site installation electrician could review the distribution boxes capacity.

The regulation demonstrates what a reasonable person would do. It also may provide a due diligence defence in respect of an incident occurring, in that it would show that employee safety was a priority.

The IT security requirement is in the interest of H&S of employees and other persons, so it is reasonable request.

I believe the reason for this is that if an unauthorised person should tamper with the board and is injured, the employer could establish that the person acted without permission and intentionally unlocked or unbolted the distribution box.

Employers should ensure, and prove, that switchgear in a DB, which is electrical machinery, is not readily accessible to any person.

PHOTO; Electrical distribution board access has to be restricted to authorised people, either by locality, or by distribution box locks.

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