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24th July 2016

The Myth of “Safety Socket Covers” – unnecessary and a hazard!

A recent alert bulletin has been distributed from the Department of Health warning that in certain circumstances, the use of plastic 13A electrical socket inserts (sold as safety accessories), can actually overcome the safety features designed into socket outlets.

The alert advises that

  • 13A electrical socket inserts should not be used in health or social care premises, nor supplied for use in a home or residence;
  • Any socket inserts currently in use should be withdrawn and responsibly disposed of.


Contrary to popular opinion, Children cannot actually poke things into British sockets as they have built in, automatic shutters for protection.

It is a requirement of the IET Wiring Regulations – BS7671:2008 (2015), that socket outlets have shutters and preferably be of a type complying with BS1363. Electrical sockets that are manufactured to BS1363 (13A wall socket-outlets, multi way adaptors and flexible extensions) must have an interlocking shutter mechanism to stop the insertion of foreign material into the socket tubes. The BS1363 standard also sets a distance which a plug pin has to be inserted before coming in contact with live parts.

Socket covers are not constructed to any electrical or other safety standard. The pins on the socket covers may actually be larger than the socket tubes which can cause damage to the socket and defeat the safety design of BS 1363.

In certain circumstances the insertion of socket covers, or their breakage whilst in use, can allow foreign objects to be inserted directly onto live parts within the socket, thus presenting a high risk of electric shock.



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