BASEC Issues Safety Warning

Buyers and users urged to check ‘arctic grade’ cable marked to ensure safe use

The British Approvals Service for Cables (BASEC) has issued a warning about some ‘arctic grade’ cable supplied into the UK market.  This cable, usually coloured yellow or blue, is commonly used on construction sites and other outdoor applications for temporary power supplies, and in some indoor applications such as cold stores.  The recent winter weather has highlighted the issue of the performance of cables in the cold.

BASEC independently tested samples of selected ‘arctic grade’ cables.  The sheathing and insulation of certain cables were found to disintegrate when subjected to a cold bending test.  This problem could result in a fire, short circuit or an electric shock.  The products in question also exhibited poor conductor resistance and other faults.

This type of cable is widely sold through a number of distributors and wholesalers across the UK.  Sometimes this cable is made into pre-assembled leads with plugs or sockets.  Identification of problem cable may be difficult as many brands of such cable are sold, often with no brand name or mark of origin.  Only certain cables are affected, and none are BASEC approved or marked BASEC.

According to BS 7540-3 (Cables - guide to use), cable compliant with BS 7919 Table 44 is suitable for outdoor use in harsh environments, down to –25 °C, and to demonstrate this performance it is required to be cold tested at –40 °C.  Regular flexible cable compliant with BS 6500 Table 27 is cold tested at –15 °C and is only described as suitable for indoor use down to +5 °C.

Jeremy Hodge, chief executive for BASEC said: “This cable is used under harsh environmental conditions and needs to withstand rough treatment, so it is important to know that it is safe.  Cable claiming ‘arctic grade’ performance needs to be suitable for use down to –25 °C, and therefore needs to be tested at –40 °C.  There is cable on the market claiming to be ‘arctic grade’ which has been shown to have inadequate performance to be safe.”

Users are encouraged to check the marking of any ‘arctic grade’ cable in use and if concerns are raised to contact the supplier.  When purchasing new ‘arctic grade’ cable, users are encouraged to make sure that it has passed cold tests at –40 °C.

BASEC is a non-profit making Government-nominated body, and for more than 30 years has been a mark of reassurance to those specifying cable.  BASEC has a reputation for quality, clarity and ensuring safety in product certification services for electrical cables, data and signal cables and ancillary products.

Further information about BASEC is available at,, or contact BASEC directly on 01908 267300.

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