As a business in this modern world, you’ll likely be dependent on some degree of technology. And, with this comes the need for a consistent electrical supply and ample plug sockets to power equipment. Extension leads solve a multitude of problems in this instance and it is one of the reasons they are such a popular choice. But, did you know that they can also present a hazard to the safety of your employees, visitors and work building? In this guide, we’ll provide practical tips to ensure extension lead safety in the workplace.

Why Use Extension Leads?

Older buildings or those not built for a specific purpose are likely to have fewer sockets than needed for a business - especially as it continues to grow and expand. Adding people into your teams or advancing along with technology all require the use of more and more electricity and the means to do this. Extension leads offer the ideal solution - drawing in enough power to use the devices that are plugged into them. They won’t increase your electricity bill as they only utilise power as and when the machine plugged in it turned on. And they reduce the need for excessively expensive and disruptive building work while solving the issue at hand.

Extension leads are vital in network organisation. With so many wires to organise and servers to ensure are running at full capacity, they allow you to structure an area cohesively while maintaining consistent power at all times. However, it’s important that you understand the risks involved with using extension leads and implement procedures to minimise them.

What Are The Main Hazards?


Every extension lead will have a maximum current rating. Our 20 Way Vertical IEC PDU, for example, has a standard rating of 13A / 250V. Overloading happens when multiple appliances plugged into an extension lead exceeds this rating. Signs of overloading include:

  • A plastic burning smell coming from the plug socket or appliance.
  • Sparks or smoke.
  • Blackness or scorch marks.
  • Damaged leads.
  • Coloured wire showing through the protective sheath.
  • Melted plastic.
  • Or blown fuses.

Any or several of these signs could be an indicator that you’re demanding too much electricity and power from the extension lead. They have the potential to lead to significant danger or injury.

Avoiding Overloading

To prevent this from happening:

  • Always check the extension lead before use. Most standard options, such as our 10 Way Horizontal IEC C13 PDU, will be rated at 13A. However, there are others at 10A or even less.
  • Take note of the current rating for each of the appliances that you’re plugging in. Never exceed the max rating on the extension lead.
  • Avoid plugging an extension lead into an extension lead.
  • Use a multiway bar extension lead which puts less strain on the wall socket itself.
  • Ensure the extension lead you’re using has a fuse as this will reduce the risk of fire.
  • Regularly check the safety of your extension leads and sockets.
  • Considering having sockets put in if your business is becoming too reliant on extension leads and running the risk of danger.


As with any working environment and networking set-up, organisation and general housekeeping are essential. It’s important to keep wires and cables stored safely away to minimise the risk of tripping. Using extension leads increases this risk - you go from needing a shorter cable to being able to extend and add leads as needed. If not properly stored in an appropriate manner, such as in the 47U Free Standing Acoustic Rack, this increases the risk of injury.

Avoiding Tripping Hazards

To prevent this from happening:

  • Always have a structured and appropriate storage system for keeping extension leads safely tucked away.
  • Avoid plugging extension leads into extension leads to minimising the length of cord
  • Implement housekeeping rules that ensure cables are packed back once no longer required.
  • Have additional sockets put in, if needed?
  • If cables do need to cross over pathways, use rubber protector strips to minimise the risk of injury.

Cable Damage

To protect them, cables and leads are covered with a protective sheath. This improves the speed and quality of electrical connections while also minimising the risk of shocks or electrocutions when in use. In the event that a cable becomes damaged, it poses a safety threat. The rules apply for extension leads. It is important to make sure the ones you use are in full working condition with no damage to the insulation or connections. Signs of damage are:

  • Internal, coloured wires poking out.
  • Sparks or noises coming from damaged insulation.
  • Poorly working appliances.

Avoiding Cable Damage

To prevent cable damage and the related hazards it poses:

  • Keep cables stored safely away.
  • Avoid walking on cables as the pressure of your step could contribute to insulation damage.
  • Avoid over flexing extension lead cables to reach award corners as this puts stress on the insulation. Instead, try to find alternative ways to power your equipment.


There is a significant risk of fire if electrical equipment is not used properly. This extends to extension leads too. The high electrical current running through these wires is enough to cause serious damage and spark fires that could ruin an entire business or household. To avoid this, the Fire and Rescue Service recommends:

  • Positioning extension leads to prevent damage.
  • Only using extension leads fitted with suitable-insulated connectors and plugs.
  • Never join together two lengths of flex by twisting bared ends of the wire together.
  • Ensuring cables are completely unwound when a cable drum extension lead is being used.
  • Checking that cables have earth wires if feeding Class I (metal-cored equipment).
  • Avoiding 2-cord extension leads.
  • Replacing damaged extension leads immediately.
  • Not repairing the damage with insulating tape.

Using extension leads is a practical way to ensure the entirety of your network system can run smoothly. However, it’s important to always use them in a safe and organised way to minimise the risk of injury. Here at Adept Networks, we manufactured and designed the safety extension leads for all projects. With 5-way, 8-way, 10-way, 12-way, 16-way and 24-way options, we can help you build a network that runs smoothly and keep everyone safe in the process.

If you would like any help or advice, please feel free to get in contact with our team here today.