PAT Testing News Round-Up - Issue 53
17th December 2015
This issue covers:
- Beware Christmas safety risks says report
- Fire tragedy prompts electrical safety warning
- Top 5 electrical safety tips for Christmas
- Eyes down for electrical safety advice
- Project Solver Ltd. working smarter with the Apollo 600
- Shoppers warned about counterfeit gifts online
- Working on powered gates – warning to electricians
- Christmas opening times
Householders have been warned about fire risks from electrical faults over the Christmas period.
A joint report from electrical bodies NICEIC and ELECSA has revealed that three-quarters of homes in Britain are at risk of potential electrical faults and even fires.
The report found that nearly half of homeowners in Britain have never had their electrics checked, or they do not know when they were last checked - even though four out of five of us admit to going over the top with lights and decorations.
Tony Cable, senior electrical engineer for NICEIC and ELECSA said: “Electrical safety in the home is important at any time of the year, but at Christmas we tend to forget that all the decorative lights we use around the home massively increase the dangers to our family.
“Just grabbing old lights from the loft and plugging them in isn’t acceptable. Everyone needs to be aware of the dangers and take into account the risks when getting competitive with the neighbours.”
It is estimated that 90 per cent of homes and gardens in Britain will be decorated for the festive period this year.
The survey, which included 2,000 UK tenants and homeowners, found that 42 per cent paid more attention to how their decorations looked, rather than safety. Inevitably, decorative lights require the use of multiple sockets and extension leads.
Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed admitted to using lights year on year that have not properly been checked and 47 per cent said that they did not understand the British Safety Kitemark.
Faulty electrics are the cause of 20,000 house fires each year, resulting in more than 70 fatalities. Most electrical issues are easily preventable by ensuring your home is regularly checked by an electrician.
The safety risks associated with electric blankets were highlighted after a house fire caused the death of a resident.
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is urging people in Lichfield and Burntwood to watch out for wear and tear on electric blankets after a man died in a fire at his home in Burslem.
A joint fire and police investigation established that the fire was caused by an electric blanket that was at least 20 years old. Wear and tear on the wires in the blanket caused the wires to arc and produce heat which set fire to surrounding bed linen.
"This was a tragic accident that sadly could have been avoided," said fire investigation officer Paul Shaw.
"We cannot stress enough the importance of ensuring that your electric blanket is safe – as this incident has highlighted, the consequences can be devastating."
Mr Shaw said older blankets "should be replaced" but warned: "It isn't just older blankets that can put you at risk.
"We find that a lot of people fold up their electric blankets when they're not in use," he added.
"However this can sometimes damage the internal wiring, making them dangerous."
According to the Electrical Safety Council the replacement of electric blanket should be considered every 10 years.
NICEIC and ELECSA have identified the top five tips to ensure your home is electrically safe this Christmas:
1. Do not overload sockets – Try to avoid extensive use of extension sockets and adapters. Do not plug multiple extensions into each other.
2. Do not re-wire your lights – Many homeowners will be tempted, or have already rewired lights to include 2, 3 or sometimes 4 sets of lights into a single plug. This is dangerous and causes a potential fire risk.
3. Make sure lights you use outside are certified safe for external use - only use outdoor lights that have been specifically designed to be used outdoors. If you are unsure check the manufacturers’ instructions.
4. Do not leave lights on for long periods – Many homeowners will be tempted to keep lights on for 24 hours, overnight or even more concerning, leave them on when they go out. All Christmas lights increase the risk of fire and overloading and should only be switched on whilst you are at home.
5. Always use Christmas lights that have been certified for use – This can be identified by the European Standards Symbol (represented by a CE) and the British Standards Kitemark. If in doubt, don’t use them. Always buy lights from reputable stores.
As part of efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of faulty electrical appliances and equipment, firefighters in the UK are taking the safety message to bingo halls.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) recently visited a bingo hall to highlight common dangers such as overloaded plug sockets and using incorrect chargers for phones and other equipment.
In the year from November 2014 to November 2015, local firefighters attended 269 fires in the county where electrical items were the source of ignition.
The service said that 1.8 m chargers are bought online each year in the UK by mobile phone owners in search of a bargain, but that some are made with poor quality components that fail to meet UK safety regulations.
CFRS service delivery manager for Halton Sean Henshaw said: “With e-cigarettes growing in popularity and chargers being used to power many electrical gadgets, the dangers of a fire starting is on the increase.”
The campaign was led by Fire Kills, supported by fire and rescue services across the country who all pointed out dangers such as overloaded sockets and damaged and frayed leads and their role in causing fires.
Investment in the latest test technology is helping a leading electrical maintenance company to boost its services for customers by improving the working efficiencies of its nationwide team of PAT engineers.
The Essex-based Project Solver Ltd., a specialist safety testing and compliance company, has recently equipped its portable appliance testing (PAT) team with the Seaward Apollo 600 electrical safety testers as part of company moves to utilise the latest technology available.
The Apollo 600 tester incorporates all of the electrical tests recommended by the IET Code of Practice for the in service inspection and testing of electrical equipment, and also includes an integral digital camera so that visual images of appliances can be saved against test results for fully traceable records.
Established by a management team with a combined experience of over 150 years in the building services industry, Project Solver is NICEIC registered and provides a range of technical FM services to ensure that customers remain compliant with workplace safety regulations and standards.
Project Solver test engineers carry out around 1 million portable appliance tests each year for clients in a range of sectors including healthcare, financial services, education, public buildings, government offices, distribution centres and commercial outlets.
In addition to PAT work, Project Solver engineers also use the versatility of the Apollo 600 to check and record details of other workplace safety inspections, including the condition of emergency lighting and fixed appliances.
As a result of adopting a fully integrated inspection, testing and results recording process, the company claims that test times have been reduced and test processes streamlined so that the overall value of their service to customers has been considerably improved.
Stephen Laccohee, compliance health and safety manager at Project Solver Ltd., said: “Our whole service focus is built around the needs of our customers.
“Electrical safety testing is our core service, but the versatility of the Apollo 600 means we have been able to extend the range of safety work we undertake for clients and maintain a central record keeping database for different types of equipment and checks.
“Working smarter with the Apollo test technology has significantly enhanced our productivity and means we can provide an all in one solution for many different workplace health, safety and building maintenance tasks.
Christmas shoppers have been warned to keep an eye out for potentially dangerous counterfeit items widely available online.
An investigation by charity Electrical Safety First found highly sophisticated, dangerous counterfeits for sale through online marketplaces which were not necessarily vetted by retailers.
Its figures suggested that more than one million people found they had bought a counterfeit last year, including fakes of popular items such as NutriBullets, GhD hair straighteners and Apple accessories.
It is warning bargain hunters to "shop smart", and said the number of reported counterfeit electrical items had grown by 12% in the past year and were almost impossible to spot.
Typical tricks used to sell fake items included imagery taken from official product sites, fake official safety marks and believable pricing, with some counterfeits costing just a few pounds less than the recommended retail price to avoid arousing suspicion.
The best way to guarantee an item's legitimacy was to buy directly from official online retailers, the charity said.
Tests carried out by Electrical Safety First found that while many items appeared sophisticated on the outside, even those with small fake internal components were at risk of exploding in up to 20% of cases, leaving consumers open to serious injury or property damage.
Electrical Safety First spokeswoman Emma Apter said: "While the sales offer a great chance for shoppers to bag a bargain online, it's vital they keep their wits about them to make sure they're getting a real deal.
"Counterfeits are now readily available at the click of a button and despite fake electrical products appearing more convincing than ever, they can contain less than half the internal components required to run safely.
"We're urging people to shop smart. At best you could be swindled but at worst you could be putting your life at risk."
More at www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk
Electricians who carry out work on powered gates run the risk of criminal prosecution under health and safety legislation – even if the wiring and other electrical work undertaken follows the regulations and is to a high standard.
The warning comes from the Door & Hardware Federation (DHF) Powered Gate Group which represents the leading UK manufacturers, suppliers, installers and maintainers of powered automatic gates and automation equipment.
Liability for the operating safety of an automated gate can rest with the last person who has carried out work on that particular gate. If the gate is unsafe for a reason unconnected with its electrical operation – because its crushing or impact forces are too high, for example – then an electrician who has worked on the gate could still be responsible for its overall safety.
This is because they are under a legal duty to ensure the gate is left in a safe condition when repair or maintenance work of any sort has carried out, explains the DHF Powered Gate Group.
Read the full article at www.securitynewsdesk.com
We would like to make you aware as early as possible about our reduced working hours over December and January.
Seaward Group’s Christmas party is taking place tomorrow, 18th of December. Staff will only be available until approximately 11.30am. Seaward officially break up for Christmas at 12:30pm on Thursday, 24th of December, and do not return until Monday, 4th of January at 8:30am.
Season's Greetings to everyone.
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