Safe operation of electrical systems

Contractor responsibility

A transfer station is a medium or low-voltage electrical system that needs to be operated safely and professionally. Failure to do so may result in faults and supply disruptions in the electricity grid and, at the worst, cause harm to humans. It is therefore crucial to define responsibility for the safety of these systems and the related tasks.

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System safety information

Contractor responsibility

The contractor is fully responsible for the health and safety of its employees. The contractor must implement effective occupational health and safety measures, even if it does not have the professional qualifications to do so. It must ensure, amongst other things, that the health and safety of employees is ensured during their work by maintaining the electrical equipment in a perfect technical condition at all times and that it is operated in line with the rules of electrical engineering. This means that each contractor is responsible for its own systems.

The contractor's duties are stipulated in legal provisions such as the

  • German Occupational Safety and Health Act (Arbeitsschutzgesetz),
  • "Principles of Prevention" (DGUV Regulation 1) and "Electrical Systems and Equipment" (DGUV Regulation 3) accident prevention regulations and
  • Ordinance on Industrial Safety and Health (Betriebssicherheitsverordnung - BetrSichV).

The accident prevention regulations stipulate the contractor's responsibilities in terms of insurance law as well as other aspects. The Ordinance on Industrial Safety and Health (Betriebssicherheitsverordnung - BetrSichV) with reference to DGUV Regulation 3 furthermore regulates criminal penalties for the contractor.

The contractor may transfer these duties to other reliable and professional persons.

Responsibility for the safe operation of electrical systems

The bases for the contractor's responsibilities are stipulated in the European EN 50 110 standards. They provide the basis for a unified European safety standard for operating and working on, with or near electrical systems. They have been implemented in the German set of standards as

  • DIN EN 50110-1 (VDE 0105 Part 1),
  • DIN EN 50110-2 (VDE 0105 Part 2) and - with a national attachment - as
  • DIN VDE 0105-100 (VDE 0105 Part 100)

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By stating DIN VDE 0105-100 (VDE 0105 Part 100) as an electronics regulation pursuant to Section 2 Paragraph 2 of the "Electrical Systems and Equipment" (DGUV Regulation 3) accident prevention regulation, clear rules on the safe operation of electrical systems and the contractor's responsibilities have been added to the German Occupational Safety and Health Act (Arbeitsschutzgesetz).

Party responsible for the safe operation of electrical systems

The German industrial standard DIN VDE 0105-100 stipulates that one person employed by the system operator shall be responsible for all electrical systems. The contractor or a natural person or legal entity appointed by the contractor who assumes the responsibility for the safe operation and proper condition of the electrical system is classed as the system operator within the meaning of DIN VDE 0105-100.

According to DIN VDE 0105-100, only a person familiar with work processes inside electrical systems and the local conditions may be appointed as a responsible person. This is to ensure that he or she is able to comprehensively and accurately assess the situation. The responsible person therefore has to be a qualified electrician with the authority to give orders. This may also be an employee of an expert company who has been appointed for this purpose. Contractors may generally appoint expert companies if they do not employ their own qualified electricians.

Closed electrical industrial premises

Closed electrical industrial premises are locked rooms or locations used exclusively for the operation of electrical systems.

DGUV Regulations 1 and 3 stipulate the basic principles in this respect. Only authorised persons may open these premises.

Electrical industrial premises include, for instance, locked switching and distribution systems, transformer cells, switching cells, distribution systems in enclosures or in other locked systems and lift engine rooms.

Only qualified electricians or persons with electrical training may enter these premises. Unqualified persons may only enter the electrical industrial premises when accompanied by qualified electricians or persons with electrical training. The term "exclusive" means that the closed electrical industrial premises must not be used for any other purposes such as storage or recreational facilities.

Qualification of a "person with electrical training"

Since for safety reasons unqualified persons may only enter closed electrical industrial premises under the supervision of a qualified electrician, personnel such as painters or locksmiths must be supervised by a qualified electrician at all times.

Alternatively, an unqualified person may be trained as a "person with electrical training", enabling him or her to enter closed electrical industrial premises. The "person with electrical training" may perform limited activities inside the industrial premises, such as

  • Cleaning the electrical industrial premises
  • Working in the vicinity of live parts
  • Disconnections by request, establishing zero-voltage status, etc.
  • Performing regular checks of the contractor's electrical equipment

Various institutions offer the "person with electrical training" qualification. The qualification includes the required theoretical professional knowledge and relevant safety measures for the prevention of accidents as well as the legal bases.