Risk Assessment PAT
The main aim of the recent Lofsted review for Health and Safety Legislation was to reduce costs for businesses.
Making safety procedures cheaper is certainly a great way to acquire more funds for areas like innovation, training, human potential and business expansion, which are all good for the economy in general.
A firm emphasis on a risk assessment approach could be found through out the recommendations by professor Lofsted. The recent changes in health and safety legislation are promoting a risk based attitude to most safety issues, reducing the “red tape” and the practice of over-compliance with the law.
One of the latest changes that have been produced and were certainly needed is regarding electrical appliances and PAT testing.
Based on the fact that now most service sector businesses (such as offices, shops, care homes, hotels etc) are considered to be low- risk environments, there is still need of regular risk-based check-ups for electrical equipment.
This necessity of careful testing is backed up by these statistics:
every year over 1000 workplace accidents and 30 fatalities are reported to the HSE along with the fire UK statistics which clearly show that faulty electrical appliances and leads are the single most common case of fires in non- residential buildings.
The recent updated Code of Practice for In- Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment provides us with the latest guidance for complying with the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.
The changes explain misunderstandings such as the frequency of PAT tests (Portable Appliances Testing) ,which appliances is necessary to check-up regularly, the responsibilities of duty- holders and what to do if using external contractors.
A risk assessment based attitude towards electrical safety and PAT testing is the key as this is not an exact science issue.
Sometimes more often testing is required, or maybe only infrequent inspections would be necessary.
You may need to test some appliances and not others. When deciding how to proceed consider issues such as:
1. The frequency of testing would depend on a change of circumstances. For example: the photocopying machine being moved nearer plants watered on a daily basis, or a computer situated very near a source of heat.
2. Who is using it and how often. Think about the level of knowledge and training of the employee to use the appliance and make sure they would inform of any failures or damages. The employee using the particular electrical item should be made responsible and aware to report when the item is not working properly in order to avoid unnecessary hazards. Portable, movable, handheld and frequently used electrical appliances are to be checked more often, as they represent higher risk for the user.
3. Class II or double- insulated equipment may not need to be tested, only inspected. Class I are all earthed items which depend on the fixed electrical installation, such as cables and extension leads, main cables and battery-charging items does need regular testing.
4. Installation methods should be taken into account, when assessing fixed equipment you should consider the position and the material of the isolator.
5. Previous records could be helpful when deciding how often to test or only to inspect the electrical equipment.
6. Labeling and record keeping. When regular testing is required, this would need to be performed by a competent person and an appropriate bar code label has to be used.
The new Code of Practice recommends that the next test date is not printed on the label, this way people are not content that it is just ok because its in date and a risk assessment should be done.
If the risk assessment based approach to PAT is adopted a direct result would be enhanced records and documentation keeping.
We hope these few little steps would help you save a bit of time and money.
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This was written by top health and safety constants Peterborough