Electrical Sockets

Safety Concerns over Plastic Covers for Electrical Sockets

20 Oct 2017

Plastic covers for electrical sockets are widely considered vital for child safety. It is natural for any parent to want to protect small children from the dangers of electricity. However, when you have BS 1363 electrical sockets fitted such covers can pose a risk to small children. It has recently been reported in the October 2017 issue of Professional Electrician magazine and across the internet that plastic covers for the BS 1363 socket do not fit properly. This can cause damage to the inside of the socket resulting in a fire risk. They can override the inbuilt safety mechanism of the BS 1363 socket creating a risk of a person being exposed to an electrical current.

How Does a BS 1363 Electrical Socket and Compatible Plug Work?

In the UK many of us insert a three point plug into a socket and switch on any number of electrical appliances at home and work without giving it a second thought. Have you noticed that the individual top pin on a plug is slightly longer than the bottom two pins? This is because it is an earth pin which activates a mechanism inside a BS 1363 socket to allow electricity to flow. When you unplug a device the socket safety mechanism closes and makes it safe. This is because BS 1363 was introduced back in 1947 to ensure that the plugs and sockets in the UK met exact dimensions and standards to ensure child safety.

Plastic socket covers don’t meet these stringent dimensions and can damage the socket. Damaged contacts can result in overheating and damaged shutters won’t protect children. Simply having a socket cover can be very tempting for a curious child and when inserted upside down the protective shutter is then left open. Poor fitting covers can allow items to be poked into live sockets.
In 2016 the Department for Health issued an alert so that all 13amp electrical socket inserts be removed from health and social care premises due to the risk of electrocution because such devices can “overcome the safety features designed into socket outlets”.

Further reading on the subject can be found at fatallyflawed.org.uk

Get BS 1363 Electrical Sockets Installed by an NICEIC Approved Electrical Contractor

Considering these findings, if you decide to responsibly dispose of your plastic socket covers. We recommend that you first check your sockets safety system. Upon removing the cover check the bottom two pins. If brass contacts are visible the socket fascia needs to be replaced by a fully qualified and professional electrician.

Excel Electrical Contractors are NICEIC approved electricians providing services to Stafford, Wolverhampton and across the West Midlands. Whether you are a homeowner, a school, nursery, or any organisation working with the public. We can provide a full range of electrical safety testing.

Should you require any electrical installations, always get a professional to carry out the work. Please contact us if you have a query or require a quote.