The Key changes relate to the following sections and are covered in more detail below;
Whilst the new standard was released at the end of March 2022, there is a 12-month implementation period where both standards are in force. The new version will supersede
BS 6396:2008+A1:2015 on 31st March 2023, but until then either version can be applied. It is important to note that BS 6396 is a best practice installation standard and is not mandatory.
The new standard has removed the reference to office and educational furniture, to read as follows;
“This British Standard specifies requirements for the provision and assembly of electrical power, data and telecommunications distribution systems in furniture.
Requirements are specified for furniture for general use and also for use with specific equipment, parts of which potentially built-in during manufacture.”
Definition: Includes “single-phase electrical power distribution systems operating at rated voltages up to 250V that are connected to the fixed wiring of the permanent installation of the building by a 13A fused plug.”
Practicality: Whenever furniture is connected to the mains electrical supply by 13A plug the furniture itself becomes regarded as an electrical appliance and is subject to BS6396.
Definition: “The standard does not apply to power distribution systems that are permanently connected to the building installation or for electrical appliances for which appropriates standards are available.”
Practicality: ‘Powertrack systems or fixed wiring installations are not subject to BS 6396. Likewise appliances with high current loads such as kettles, heaters, vacuum cleaners should not be connected to sockets that are located within the furniture as they will cause the protective over-current device (fuse/CBE) to operate and cut power off the socket outlet.
Connection to the mains electrical supply by 13A wall socket or floor box 13A socket.
Rotasoc connection to the mains electrical supply by a Powertrack system in compliance with BS 7671.
The desk top electrics are being supplied from Rotasoc 13A BS1363 socket-outlets and therefore will need to comply with BS 6396.
Plug sockets installed in office and educational furniture are intended to supply electrical equipment with a fuse rating of no more than 5A. Section 7 of BS 6396 describes the need to test such equipment and sets out the procedures for doing so.
You should carry out these tests on reconfigured desks and screens as well as new installations. You must repeat the tests periodically to fulfil the requirements of BS 6396 and the Electricity at Work Regulations in maintaining a safe working environment.
Meeting the requirements of BS 6396 means following the points listed below when configuring electrical systems. Any electrical system being fed from one 13A BS 1363 UK plug must not have more than:
as shown by the diagrams below.
If you have equipment rated higher than 5A, do not plug it into your workstation or furniture power. The sockets in this furniture are designed for office equipment only. Also, make sure:
Circuit breakers for equipment (CBE) are now also included in the standard and must comply with BS EN IEC 60934 and shall be non-self resetting. To be used within a module instead of fuse protection, the circuit breaker must meet one of the following clauses:
Section 4 of the standard now clearly states earthing requirements by using three scenarios:
BS 6396 was updated in December 2015 with a requirement for all electrical systems within office or educational furniture to include safety protection in the form of a 30 milliamp (mA) residual current device.
An RCD monitors the flow of electricity (measured in Amps) through a circuit.
If the current sent down the live (brown) wire to the electrical appliance does not match the current returned via the neutral (blue) wire, the RCD sees that as a leak in the circuit and automatically stops the flow of electricity.
Although all RCDs do the same job, the speed at which they stop the flow of electricity is determined by the device’s rating, measured in milliamps (mA).
BS 6396 says electrical systems within office or educational furniture should include a 30 mA RCD. This is classified as a high-sensitivity device, capable of stopping the flow of electricity within around 40 milliseconds and preventing irreversible heart damage or death from electric shock.
As little as 0.5 mA can cause injury from electrocution in less than a tenth of a second. Anything over 40 mA is likely to be fatal.
How CMD makes its products safe
At CMD, we put electrical safety at the heart of what we do. Our highly trained and experienced team of engineers are all qualified in aspects of compliance with BS 6396, and we are able to offer our entire range of power modules (including Rotasoc) to meet the standards of BS 6396 for any office or educational environment.
It’s up to our customers to ensure their installations comply with BS 6396. We make sure that all our products meet the standards.
We can supply the following products with RCDs.
Rotasoc (switching/protection module) – can be retrofitted
Elite+ (RCD protection module) – can be retrofitted
20 Series Floor Box (Single box base) – supplied with socket outlets incorporating a residual current device (SRCDs)
20A Series Floor Box (Separate box base) – supplied with SRCDs
Slab Boxes – supplied with SRCDs
Cleaner’s Hive – supplied with SRCDs
Cable Hives – supplied with SRCDs