PAT Testing – Severn Valley Business Group
 

Tag: PAT Testing

Why test electrical appliances?

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Electricity

This is a question that we get asked a lot of times and there are several parts to the answer, so let’s look at this stage by stage.

Firstly there’s the humanitarian issue, do we want to put our staff, ourselves or the public in danger? Off course we don’t, but that’s exactly what we are doing if we do not maintain all equipment in a safe manner. According to some HSE statistics 1% of all industrial accidents are as a result of electrocution from faulty or badly maintained electrical equipment, however this 1% of accidents represents 6% of total fatalities.

Secondly there’s a business continuity issue, whilst all equipment will be out of service for a very short moment (during testing) this is minute compared to the same piece of kit electrocuting someone. At this point your production will be stopped whilst HSE and police investigate the circumstances, your man power will have been reduced (the member of staff being off sick or even killed) the piece of kit will probably need to be repaired or replaced, all this is costing the company time.

Thirdly we have an intellectual issue, having had an incident it’s almost certain that you will have a negative effect on morale within your work force, as they will feel that they are not valued enough to look after. In addition to this your professional image to your existing and potential customers will also be affected, how many of them want to be associated with a company that is careless or just doesn’t care?

Next we have the cost to the company, yes there is a cost involved in having the equipment tested and with this you get what you pay for. To test an electrical appliance properly in accordance with IET code of practice, 4th edition takes between 4 and 6 minutes (so if anyone tells you he can test more 120 in a day, then beware) If you take the cost of the testing and put it against the items we have already covered then the alternative costs involved would be; court costs in being sued for negligence or even prosecuted for corporate manslaughter, loss of production, sick pay, reduced production from remaining staff, replacement or repair of the piece of kit, HSE costs, loss of revenue and you will still need to pay for your appliances to be tested.

If by now you’re getting really depressed about this, then buckle up because there’s more. According to fire brigade statistics 26% of fires, on commercial premises, are caused by faulty electrical equipment, this means there is a potential for one in four businesses to be the victim of fire as a result. The consequences of a fire on your premises are potentially far more serious than previously explained; more injuries, more fatalities, greater loss of continuity, removal from the market place (whether this is temporary or permanent), greater costs or even total loss of your business.

“This may all be inconvenient, but our insurance will pay to get us back on our feet” check your small print, because you may find that by not carrying out your best endeavors to prevent these incidents, that you have invalidated your insurance, there may also be a clause that states you must comply with all of your legal duties.

Which brings us to the last point, “why do I need to test my electrical equipment” because it’s your legal duty, under various health and safety legislation, it is your responsibility to maintain all equipment in a safe manner and the best way to do this is employ a regime of regular inspections and testing.

We hope that we have been able to answer the question and demonstrate that having your appliances tested is not a cost, but an investment in your company’s future prosperity. Should you have further questions about this subject or any other health and safety issues, then please do not hesitate to contact us at info@anchorhands.co.uk

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Get your H&S in order

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Man system 2

As a new calendar year approaches, it’s time to get your Health & Safety in order. All businesses, companies and organisations will benefit from having a simple yet robust system in place to assess, control and monitor their health and safety issues. If you employ 5 or more people (employ does not necessarily mean pay, volunteers count as employed) then you are legally bound to produce a written health and safety policy, with the necessary procedures in place to make it happen, that said there is no reason why you shouldn’t have the same even if you employ less than 5 people.

If you own or operate premises then you must carry out a fire risk assessment of those premises, again if you employ 5 or more people then this assessment must be formally written. A fire risk assessment will drive out any necessary actions to make the premises in which you work, safe from fire. This will include housekeeping, training and maintenance items such as servicing of extinguishers and testing of electrical appliances.

In both cases above, it is essential that once produced these documents are reviewed whenever there are any changes, which affect either the building or your work practices, or at least annually.

It may be that you already have procedures in place that might benefit from being given a review by a third party, or you might like to have an independent eye check that your systems are being operated correctly, either way now is the time to make sure that your health and safety is given the attention it needs to ensure that everyone you are responsible for, is kept safe.

For more information or advice please contact us via www.anchorhands.co.uk

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Risk and your business

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Here we will be looking at the physical risks that need to be accounted for within any business planning, but hopefully will cover the general areas necessary to give you an idea of what to look out for.

Before we move on let’s be clear what we are talking about.

   What is Risk?                                           

“Risk is the likelihood of a body or event to cause harm.”

This should not be  confused with Hazard.         

 What is Hazard?            

“Hazard is the ability of a body or event to cause harm.”

From this we can see that in order to reduce the risks to our businesses we need to remove, reduce or protect against the hazards we come across. The way we do this is by carrying out a Risk Assessment

 There are five steps to carrying out any risk assessment.

 Step 1: Identify and record the hazards that are present, these fall broadly into five categories

Physical: such as pressure, heat, damp, noise, radiation and electricity

Chemical: such as dusts, fumes, chemicals, toxic materials and gases

Biological: such as infections, viruses and contagions

Ergonomic: work conditions, stress, RSI and man-machine interaction

The fifth one we’ll come back to as it’s covered under specific legislation

 Step 2: Identify the people that may be affected by the hazard

Paying particular attention to those groups that may be especially vulnerable such as the elderly, blind, young and disabled.

At this point it is possible to rank the severity of the risk, giving it a more tangible identity

 Step 3: Remove, reduce the severity or Protect against, the Hazard.

The preference here is always to remove the hazard completely (rearrange items to avoid trips and impacts), if this cannot be done then reduce the severity of the hazard (use low voltage equipment or less aggressive chemicals) and as a last resort protect against the hazard (provide warnings or personal protective equipment).

Once again assuming that all the measures have been put into place, it will be possible to rank the severity of the residual risks. You can then establish whether the remaining risks are acceptable or if they need further action.

 Step 4: Record, Plan, Inform and Train            

Record the significant findings from steps 1 to 3 and what actions have or need to be taken as a result.

Prepare any plans or procedures that may be required in order to facilitate the actions

Inform and instruct all relevant people, co-operate with all concerned.

Provide any necessary training that may be required as a result of the assessment.

 Step 5: Review

Having carried out the assessments they must be kept relevant, which means that they should be reviewed on a regular basis or when conditions change (such as work practices, new technology, legislation or results of monitoring)

Remember any revisions to the assessments must be communicated to those that need to know the results of those revisions.

 Why have we gone to the trouble of doing these risk assessments and putting whatever precautions in place, is it because of our genuine concern for our fellow workers safety, is it because it makes financial sense to do it or is it our legal duty?

 The answer is all of the above!

 From a humanitarian and moral point of view, we do not want to cause or allow to be caused, harm to anybody

  1. Research shows that investing in risk reduction leads to better company performance.
  2. A good working environment is good business.
  3. Staff feel that they are valued.
  4. Your customers see a company that does it right and cares.
  5. You avoid costs associated with disruption, sickness, investigation, down time, compensation claims, increased insurance premiums and loss of goodwill
  6. And for those companies that cannot see the benefit, there are legal requirements, with quite hefty penalties for non compliance

 Remember under step 1 of the risk assessment we said there was a fifth hazard, which was covered under its own legislation, this is Fire!

 Potentially this one can be the most destructive, obviously to your staff, the public and visitors, but also to a business and as such should be carried out by a competent person.

 If your stock and premises are all destroyed, how are you going to trade?

 This is why in March 2006 the “Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005” came into force, making it the responsibility of all owners or occupiers of commercial properties, to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment of those premises and put into action any necessary precautions and planning, specific to those risks.

 For the purpose of the legislation “Commercial” means anything non-domestic, so that includes churches, schools, libraries etc. In fact only military and some government buildings are exempt.

 When we carry out our Fire Risk Assessment it’s worth remembering how fire works, for this we use the fire triangle.

  Fire needs 3 elements to exist firstly Fuel (flammable gases, flammable liquids or flammable solids. Secondly Oxygen (The air around us, oxidizing agents and stored oxygen) and finally Ignition (Naked flame, faulty electrical appliances, hot processes and hot machinery)… Remove any one of these and the fire goes out.

 We have seen that there are many types of hazards and therefore risks, surrounding our businesses, it is essential then that we Eliminate these risks, if we cannot do this, then we should Reduce the effect of them, and finally Protect against any residual risk.

 Remember none of this will work if we do not communicate your findings and plans to those who may be affected.

 This way our businesses should be safe environments in which to work, be protected from the disruption and costs that incidents can bring and demonstrate to others that we are responsible and considerate business people.

All of this has to be a cost effective  benefit to all of our businesses, a benefit which you can take to the bank!

 

If you would like more information, then please contact us via www.anchorhands.co.uk

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Jim Wallace of Seaward Electronic highlights the importance of ensuring that workplace electrical appliances are safe

 

The figures speak for themselves: nearly a quarter of all reported electrical accidents are caused by portable and transportable electrical equipment, and around 1000 workplace accidents involving electricals take place each year.

In 2003-2004, electrical shocks accounted for 14 deaths and 148 non-fatal injuries among the UK workforce. Faulty equipment and leads are to blame for more than 6000 fires a year.

Against this backdrop, it is easy to see why legal duties covering the integrity of new electrical or electronic equipment fall to manufacturers and suppliers. But responsibility for the safe operation of equipment in the workplace rests squarely on the shoulders of employers.

The use and maintenance of all electrical equipment is covered by the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (EAWR). The EAWR demand that all electrical appliances that plug into an electrical system – whether they are fixed or portable and transportable – must be maintained, as far as reasonably practical, to prevent danger.

Testing times

Many organisations use field service organisations and contractors’ specialist portable appliance testing operations. Others rely on in-house testing protocols supervised by maintenance managers, safety engineers and site electricians, or facilities management personnel.

Whichever route you take, electrical safety policies must be capable of revealing potential problems with appliances before they occur, and this is where preventative maintenance programmes come into their own.

Most equipment defects can be found by visual inspection; according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), you can find 95% of faults or damage simply by looking. For example, a detailed examination by a competent person is likely to reveal hazards caused by cable or plug damage, faulty wiring or other obvious signs that the condition of the equipment could lead to faults or endanger users.

But for maximum effectiveness, visual inspections should be part of a larger programme of periodic inspection and testing aimed at identifying any “invisible” electrical faults such as lack of earth continuity, compromised insulation, incorrect polarity, or unacceptable earth leakage before they become serious hazards.

Tailored fit

These combined inspection and testing programmes should be tailored to the risk. This  means maintenance procedures in some commercial environments may be needed less frequently than in high-risk environments, such as industrial premises or construction sites. Smaller offices or workplaces with only a few common electrical appliances are relatively low-risk environments. In such locations, regular, formal user checks plus visual inspection, combined with some restricted periodic testing is probably the best approach.

Larger organisations, with numerous departments and a wider variety of equipment, call for a different approach because they must show they have tested equipment at the right time and in the right sequence. These organisations must be able to provide proof of maintenance and testing, such as records of test levels and results.

The frequency of equipment inspection and testing will depend on whether electrical items are rated Class I or Class II, and where they are used. An office kettle (which is Class l) might need a visual inspection every six to 12 months, for example, but combined inspection and testing only every one to two years.

For advice on Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) contact us at info@anchorhands.co.uk

Article courtesy of  Jim Wallace, who is research and technology manager at Seaward Electronic,

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