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Should I Be Able To Do This?

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SillyOldDuffer07/12/2016 18:03:10
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I have a 4-way socket outlet in my workshop which is hidden behind a grinding wheel and some other junk. Reaching over without looking to plug in a Radio, I managed to do this:

dsc04094.jpg

Putting the plug in upside down opens the safety shutters and exposes Live and Neutral. Shock, horror. I could have been electrocuted!

The outlet isn't a nasty cheap import, it was 'Made in England'. Turns out I have several Kite-marked socket outlets that can be opened in exactly the same way with an upside down plug.

Not really a Chernobyl in the making, but is this a design fault or a flaw in the British Standard?

Dave

 

Edited By SillyOldDuffer on 07/12/2016 18:03:50

the artfull-codger07/12/2016 18:15:04
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Unless you have fingers of a 3 yr old kiddie I can't see how you could be electrocuted as the metal part of the sockets are 5mm or so recessed in the front of the plastic face.

Graham.

NJH07/12/2016 18:17:31
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As Graham says - it's really best to LOOK at what you are doing! cool

Norman

JasonB07/12/2016 18:23:05
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I suppose sticking the plug in upside down is a bit safer than poking a 4" nail in the hole. You can open the two covers by poking anything into the average socket no matter which way up it is

Bazyle07/12/2016 18:24:27
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Blind people can't look. It could be prevented by a wider unit that stopped it overlapping and of course wall sockets can't do this. Where do you stop? We drastically need to cut the population down so tops on plugs should be banned.

Mike Poole07/12/2016 19:55:16
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Shutters are not operated by the earth pin on more modern sockets, it used to be very easy on the type of shutter pictured to open the shutter with one point of your test lamps and test live to earth then hold the shutter open with the live and transfer to neutral to test. The type of shutter operated by the live and neutral simultaneously are harder to defeat, probably designed by the people who sell test plugs. I think the shutters are more to prevent metal objects being inserted rather than finger protection. As beautiful and tiny baby's fingers are, by the time they start exploring their fingers have probably grown enough to not fit a socket.

Mike

Edited By Michael Poole on 07/12/2016 19:55:47

Steven Vine07/12/2016 20:10:52
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One could take it a bit further and unscrew the lid off the plug,insert it the plug without top in the socket, turn on the power, and ask should I be able to do this.

Steve

Edited By Steven Vine on 07/12/2016 20:12:23

SillyOldDuffer07/12/2016 20:42:49
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Posted by Steven Vine on 07/12/2016 20:10:52:

One could take it a bit further and unscrew the lid off the plug,insert it the plug without top in the socket, turn on the power, and ask should I be able to do this.

Steve

Edited By Steven Vine on 07/12/2016 20:12:23

Well, the powers that be have decided the answer to that is no, you shouldn't. It's why new appliances come fitted with sealed 13A plugs. Spoilsports!

This is a better design I feel - plugs can't be inserted upside down:

dsc04095.jpg

Dave

Speedy Builder507/12/2016 21:09:45
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You have to stick an earth pin in the hole so you can jam a 2 pin shaver plug into the other holes (when you forget to take your adaptor with you) and also when you want to stuff a meter / neon tester in. No, its essential to be able to 'open' the shutters on occasion - Operator beware !!
BobH

Neil Wyatt07/12/2016 21:17:48
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The socket should be designed so you can't plug it in the other way round, i.e. L&N without earth.

This (somewhat monomaniac) website is a jolly good read

www.fatallyflawed.org.uk/

Neil

Enough!07/12/2016 21:43:52
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Posted by Steven Vine on 07/12/2016 20:10:52:

One could take it a bit further and unscrew the lid off the plug,insert it the plug without top in the socket, turn on the power, and ask should I be able to do this.

That seems like stretching the point to absurdity to me. You could take the back off any mains-operated equipment, poke around and electrocute yourself. The usual question, in terms of agency approvals, is "does it need a tool to do so?"

Enough!07/12/2016 21:45:52
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Posted by Michael Poole on 07/12/2016 19:55:16:

The type of shutter operated by the live and neutral simultaneously are harder to defeat,

.... not to mention harder to get the plug in.

Harry Wilkes07/12/2016 22:49:17
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I would be sending these link that photo just to see what there reaction was smiley

H

Steven Vine07/12/2016 23:19:45
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Posted by Bandersnatch on 07/12/2016 21:43:52:
Posted by Steven Vine on 07/12/2016 20:10:52:

One could take it a bit further and unscrew the lid off the plug,insert it the plug without top in the socket, turn on the power, and ask should I be able to do this.

That seems like stretching the point to absurdity to me. You could take the back off any mains-operated equipment, poke around and electrocute yourself. The usual question, in terms of agency approvals, is "does it need a tool to do so?"

My point was that I can probably make any 'approved' appliance unsafe, and then claim a fault in the design or BS. I am sorry I missed the point here.

Steve

Clive Foster07/12/2016 23:43:48
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To answer the OPs question No you shouldn't be able to do that. That distribution boad falls outside the specification for 13 amp sockets which require the surround, box or facepalte to be large enough to prevent inverted insertion of the plug. The angled ones are outside specification too. Only horizontal alignment is permitted for use with normal plugs so the cable hangs down clear of everything.

The shutters required for child safety bit is an urban myth. Real reason for shutters is to permit the use of switchless outlets. Which is also why a fuse rated to protect the cable between socket and device is needed. No idea why it was considered desirable not to have switches. Probably because a good quality, non sparking switch with full 13 Amp carrying capacity without temperature rise is quite expensive. Its scary comparing the switches inside the big box store units with properly rated switches out of older disboards and the like.

Clive.

Nicholas Farr07/12/2016 23:45:25
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Posted by Neil Wyatt on 07/12/2016 21:17:48:

The socket should be designed so you can't plug it in the other way round, i.e. L&N without earth.

This (somewhat monomaniac) website is a jolly good read

www.fatallyflawed.org.uk/

Neil

Hi Neil, WHAT!

shocking sockets.jpg

I was able to put the black plug into the white multi-socket the wrong way round, by using a small screwdriver in the earth hole to open the shutters. OK, it can't be done accidently, but the design isn't a good one, however it is a fairly old one. As you can see, the black multi-socket allows the earth pin to be plugged in, same as SillyOldDuffer's one.

Regards Nick.

P.S. The white one has BS1363A on the moulded plug, which I assume covers the whole unit and was made in England. The black one has a replaceable plug and has BS1363/A on the multi socket itself, along with the kite mark and is badged as JoJo (UK) England.

Edited By Nicholas Farr on 08/12/2016 00:00:04

Hopper08/12/2016 01:53:15
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We don't have shutters on our power outlets here in Oz and most days I don't read many reports in the newspaper of people being electrocuted.

not done it yet08/12/2016 06:26:53
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We don't have shutters on our power outlets here in Oz and most days I don't read many reports in the newspaper of people being electrocuted.

Are yours 230V? Ours in the UK are. 120V on the north american continent are somewhat less likely to supply a fatal shock.

I like your very careful use of words. "Most days" could be 4 days per week and "many" only refers to the other

three? Reading it properly could be "there are only a few fatalities reported in the papers on most days but more on some"!!

If elctrocution is so common, it would not be newsworthy to report individual cases, only to highlight the dangers. Go back a hundred years and electrocutions were commonplace due to the intrinsic lack of safety measures and novelty of the systems.

Not checked the several extension cables I have, but I have never ever accidentally plugged in inappropriately. Perhaps common sense is not completely dead? Nothing stops the 'Darwin awards group' from opening the shutters on any UK socket if they try hard enough, so the safeguards are only really for protecting young children, I might suggest.

After seeing the OP 'answer' his own thread so quickly, I am wondering which forum the thread was on previously, even though no reference was supplied.

Hopper08/12/2016 08:22:08
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NDIY: 240 Volt in Oz. It can give you quite a kick if you stick a paper clip in the outlet and stick your tongue on it.

Neil Wyatt08/12/2016 08:32:15
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Posted by Clive Foster on 07/12/2016 23:43:48:

The shutters required for child safety bit is an urban myth.

No it isn't!

."The British 13 Amp plug and socket is considered the safest in the world. It is one of the results of UK government planning in the 1940s to improve building standards. The committee entrusted with improving electrical installations included just one woman, but that woman had an enormous impact! Her name was Caroline Haslett, she was an electrical engineer, a pioneer in the use of electricity to benefit women by liberating them from household drudgery, and an expert on safety in the home. She believed that a new, more convenient and safer plug and socket was needed. As a result, the first requirement in the committee's recommendations was that it should protect young children from being able to touch live parts by means of shutters, or the inherent design of the socket. The resulting design, still in use today, actually does both. A baby's finger is not small enough to go into the socket holes far enough to reach the live parts, but to make sure there are insulated shutters on the inside of the holes which prevent anything but a plug being inserted. These shutters close automatically as soon as the plug is pulled out. "

And:

"During the Second World War she was the only woman member (and the only safety expert) on the 20-person committee convened by the IEE to examine the requirements for electrical installations in post-war Britain, part of a larger scheme of Post-War Building Studies.[12] An important part of those recommendations was a new plug and socket standard, the first requirement for which was To ensure the safety of young children it is of considerable importance that the contacts of the socket-outlet should be protected by shutters or other like means, or by the inherent design of the socket outlet. The result was BS 1363.[13]"

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