Are YOU at risk?
If you are an employer, self employed, sole trader or Landlord - please read on...
The Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 places a general duty on both employers and employees to ensure the safety of all persons using the work premises, and the legal requirements relating to the use and maintenance of electrical equipment are contained in the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (EAWR). Regulation 4(2) of the EAWR specifically requires that all electrical systems in the workplace are maintained, so far as reasonably practicable to prevent danger. This requirement covers all items of electrical equipment, including fixed, portable and transportable equipment, which in effect means anything connected to a building’s electrical system via a plug or cable.
You need to have a suitable maintenance system in place to ensure the safety of portable electrical equipment such as computers, kettles, toasters and power tools. This system should then form part of your Management of Health and Safety. Responsibility for the safe operation of electrically – powered equipment in the workplace rests firmly with the employer. Although the importance of portable appliance testing (PAT) in many industrial and construction environments is well understood, employers have the same responsibilities when it comes to maintaining all types of electrical equipment used in lower risk environments – whether they be offices, shops, schools or hotels (including self catering lets).
Electrical portable appliances are often roughly handled when moved from place to place, they operate in a variety of environments and in many instances undergo more arduous usage than fixed electrical equipment. As a result, at any time it is estimated that around 20 per cent of electrical appliances used in workplaces could require re-testing to ensure that they do not pose a hazard to users. Evidence shows that a large number of the dangers, deaths and injuries caused by misused or faulty electrical equipment could be avoided if proper electrical checking procedures are applied.
While office-type equipment such as computers, printers, kettles and fans do not present the same degree of risk as for example an electric power tool, badly wired plugs or frayed leads on any equipment can still give people electric shocks and cause office fires. It is therefore essential that all portable electrical equipment is adequately maintained through a system of regular visual checks by users, formal visual inspections by a trained person and combined inspections and tests (where necessary) by an electrically competent person.To identify all potentially dangerous faults, visual inspections needs to be linked with a programme of periodic combined inspection and testing, where necessary. Combined inspections and tests will reveal any ‘invisible’ electrical faults such as earth continuity, insulation integrity, correct polarity, excessive protective conductor current and other potential problems.
The HSE have reported that around a 1,000 workplace electrical accidents take place each year and of those 25 are fatal; reducing the dangers associated with unsafe electrical appliances at work is of vital importance. A major UK insurance company recently stated that ‘Electricity is the second largest cause of fires in commercial and industrial premises in the UK’.
Cost effective solution
Cost effective maintenance of portable electrical equipment can be achieved through a combination of user checks, formal visual inspection and combined inspection and testing with a defined reporting system which is easily accessible. With myPATtesting we can advise on the correct periods of inspection based on your environment.