British Standard (BS) 6396 (BS 6396:2008+A1:2015—Electrical systems in office furniture and educational furniture) sets out requirements for ensuring electrical power, data and telecommunications systems in office furniture, office screens and educational furniture are safe.
All electrical equipment must be designed and tested to:
British Standards can be used to demonstrate this. BS 6396 is the relevant standard for electrical systems in office furniture and educational furniture which are connected to the mains via a 13 Amp plug.
BS 6396—Electrical sockets
Plug sockets installed in office and educational furniture are intended to supply electrical equipment with a fuse rating of no more than 5 Amps. 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 13 Amp BS 1363 UK plug must not have more than:
- six individually fused sockets rated at 3.15 Amps each, or
- four individually fused sockets rated at 5 Amps each
as shown by the diagrams below.
If you have equipment rated higher than 5 Amps, do not plug it in to your office or educational furniture. The sockets in this furniture are designed for office equipment only. Also, make sure:
- all sockets have the correct fuses—each socket must be rated at either 3.15 Amps or 5 Amps
- all power modules have the correct fuses—even if the electrical system has surge protectors, mini circuit breakers (MCBs) etc. installed
BS 6396—Residual current devices
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.
What is a residual current device (RCD)?
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.
For more information on RCDs, click here.
Why do I need a 30 mA RCD?
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.
The requirements of BS 6396 do not apply in the following circumstances.
- Electrical equipment connected to the mains by some other form (i.e. not a 13 Amp UK plug)
- An individual piece of equipment needing more than 5 Amps—this must be connected directly to its own 13 Amp wall socket
- Any electrical system in office or educational furniture which exceeds 13 Amps
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.
Residual current devices in our products
We can supply the following products with RCDs.
Conti Connect (metal and plastic)
Rotasoc (switching/protection module)—can be retrofitted
Elite+ (RCD protection module)—can be retrofitted
One Piece ‘Fast Fit’ Floor Box—20 Series—supplied with socket outlets incorporating a residual current device (SRCDs)
Individual Compartment Floor Box—supplied with SRCDs
Integral RCD/RCBO Floor Box
Slab Box—supplied with SRCDs
Cleaners Hive—supplied with SRCDs
Cable Hives—supplied with SRCDs
Electrical safety in the office
Power module chart