PAT Testing News Round-Up - July 2011
- BAPAT Gains Online Presence
- FREE PATGuard Lite With Every PrimeTest 350 Purchased - Limited Period Only.
- Electrical Safety Guide For Landlords
- Fire Risk Of Faulty Fridge Freezers
- Workplace Fatalities Increase
- Office Test Seal Of Approval For PrimeTest 350
- Your Questions Answered
Progress continues to be made to establish the British Association of Professional Appliance Testing (BAPAT). The formative new group aims to represent all those involved in PAT testing and continues to finalise details on such matters as membership structure, key objectives and delivering the highest standards of technical and professional PAT standards.
In the meantime, a new website has been set up at www.upat.org.uk which includes a bulletin board where new and prospective members can find out more and offer their views on this new and emerging initiative.
Seaward's PrimeTest 350 is the quickest and smartest handheld PAT tester on the market made even better when used in conjunction with software to enable the downloading of test results. For a limited period only we're giving away a copy of PATGuard Lite 2 software with every PrimeTest 350 purchased from an approved stockist.
To find out more about this offer and to participate click here.
The Electrical Safety Council (ESC), in collaboration with the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) and a number of leading UK housing associations, has produced a guide to electrical safety in the communal areas of residential properties in England & Wales.
Building on the success of the Landlords Guide to Electrical Safety, the guide is intended to address electrical safety in communal areas including areas accessible by staff, residents, and others visiting a property.
The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) has teamed up with the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) and a number of other organisations to produce a new guide promoting electrical safety in the communal areas of residential properties in England and Wales.
The ESC was approached by ARMA after concerns were raised in the wake of several high profile electrical incidents including the fire at Lakanal House in Camberwell, London, in July 2009 which resulted in the death of six people, including a mother and her three-week-old daughter. The fire, which was caused by an electrical fault in a television in a 9th floor flat, spread rapidly to other floors of the residential block.
The Guide aims to raise awareness among residential landlords - including housing associations, local authorities, private landlords and property management companies - of their legal obligations relating to electrical safety and provides guidance and advice on areas such as stairwells, corridors and boiler rooms.
The Guide, entitled ‘Electrical safety in communal areas of residential properties’, is available to download free from the ESC industry website at www.esc.org.uk/industry as well as in hard copy which can be requested by email (email@example.com).
Reports in the national press highlighted how up to 500,000 fridge freezers could be posing serious fire risks in homes and businesses across the country.
Fire investigators from London Fire Brigade said that a fire originally thought to have been caused by a lightning strike, was in fact caused by a faulty appliance manufactured by Beko.
In a statement, the brigade said that the blaze served as an urgent warning of the serious risks posed by up to 500,000 faulty fridge freezers in homes and businesses across the country. There are believed to have been 20 fires in the capital alone involving the fridge freezers since 2008. These fires have seen 15 people injured and one person die.
Over the last three years the brigade's fire investigation team has been working to establish the link between a faulty defroster timer switch on the appliances and a number of house fires.
The problem occurs when water gets into the defrost timer switch in the fridge freezer, which can lead to an electrical malfunction resulting in plastic components and other highly flammable insulation inside the appliance catching fire.
A Beko spokesman said: "Since becoming aware of the issue, Beko has been working closely with the London Fire Brigade and Trading Standards to identify the issue and the best method of reaching all affected consumers and arranging a modification. We have contacted all retailers who sold these products to seek their help in identifying affected customers from their sales records. This has allowed us to mail these customers to make them aware of the issue and to urge them to contact our freephone number to arrange the modification".
The HSE has reported that the UK rate of fatal injury is now 0.6 per 100,000 workers, representing 171 deaths in the year up to March 2011. The preceding period had 147 deaths, a rate of 0.5 per 100,000 workers. Construction activity accounted for 50 deaths, agriculture 34 and 9 in waste and recycling.
The HSE Chair commented: "The increase in the number of deaths in the last year is disappointing, after an all time low last year. However, we must remember that we still have one of the lowest rates of fatal injury anywhere in Europe".
Investment in new electrical test technology is helping one of the UK’s leading providers of workplace compliance, safety and maintenance services to improve productivity levels and enhance its offering to clients.
Facilities management company Office Test is equipping its specialist team of portable appliance testing (PAT) engineers with the latest Seaward PrimeTest 350 electrical test technology.
The new hand held testers are used by the Office Test team of fully qualified PAT testing personnel to inspect and verify the safety of a wide range of electrical appliances and business equipment on a daily basis.
Office Test helps clients around the country in a wide range of sectors with their electrical compliance, maintenance, and health and safety obligations. Customers include leading hotel and retail chains, government departments, financial institutions, healthcare organisations and manufacturing companies.
In all cases the aim is to provide the highest standards of customer service and investment in the latest PAT testing equipment is helping the company to deliver on its promises.
With anything from 200-300 electrical appliance tests being carried out each day, portability and speed of testing is crucial and were major factors behind the selection of the PrimeTest 350.
The PrimeTest 350 PAT tester is specifically designed for fast and efficient high volume appliance testing. As well as the standard electrical tests, its comprehensive test suite also includes alternative leakage, 250V insulation and load measurement capabilities.
The lightweight and battery powered tester carries out all test sequences automatically, stores the results, and connects wirelessly to results printers and barcode scanners. A fast data logging and downloading feature means results, appliance IDs, location and other data can be stored and transferred to PAT software for comprehensive record keeping and traceability.
For the Office Test PAT engineers, the use of the PrimeTest 350s has made a significant contribution to improved productivity. As well as increasing the speed of testing without affecting the integrity of the work undertaken, engineers can now also download results direct from the tester from home into central record databases without repeated trips to head office.
The result has been a much more streamlined and efficient PAT testing operation, enabling the company to meet existing client needs, take on more business and remain highly competitive.
Simon Flowers, managing director of Office Test, said: “The all round capabilities of the PrimeTest 350 substantially reduces test times and also the downtime between tests.
“As a result, these practical benefits have had a significant impact on the day to day activities of our engineers who now have the freedom and flexibility to test appliances and download results much more easily – which is very important when high volume testing is being undertaken across multi-locations and large sites.
“This means that contracts we support all over the country can be serviced on time and with maximum efficiency.”
Visit the PrimeTest 350 PAT Tester product page.
PAT tester calibration
Q. My PAT tester is 18 month old and I use it mainly to test my own equipment as a Training Consultant, and to offer a simple Pass/Fail service to customers as an offshoot to my main business. I've used the kit less than 100 times since purchase.
I know calibration is normally advised annually but with such a low usage isn't that factor to be taken into account? If so how often would you suggest I have my tester calibrated?
A. It is possible to extend the period between calibrations by using some form of verification device or checkbox to perform regular checks of your instrument. A risk assessment is commonly used to determine whether the interval between calibrations can be extended – what is the likelihood or probability of the instrument performance changing, based on the amount of usage, and what are the consequences of the device not performing correctly.
The IEE Code of Practice recommends that the on-going accuracy of test equipment is assessed using a reference circuits or checkbox and that records are kept. This is particularly useful as it allows the user to detect any change in performance over time. If you perform regular checks and find that there is no deviation in performance then this could be used as a justification for extending the calibration interval.
Competency to test
Q. I recently completed an on-line PAT course – does this qualify me as a competent person for PAT testing?
A. This is a very topical question and is a current ‘live’ debate among those involved in the industry.
It is a requirement of the Electricity At Work Regulations that anyone carrying out PAT testing must be competent to do so. As a minimum you will need to be able to correctly identify those items to be inspected and tested, which tests are appropriate, how to perform the tests and how to interpret the results.
It is unlikely that a complete newcomer to PAT testing would be regarded as suitably competent after an on-line PAT course only.
If you are a competent person and have a basic knowledge of electricity then you can be capable of testing appliances for electrical safety.
No specific qualifications are required for to undertake PAT Testing although two formal qualifications are available for those interested in gaining recognised status. These are the ‘City and Guilds 2377-11 Management of electrical equipment maintenance’ and City and Guilds 2377 – 12 Inspection and testing of electrical equipment’ – with the latter being appropriate for those carrying out testing.
Further guidance is provided in the third edition of the IEE Code of Practice which advises that a competent person should possess sufficient technical knowledge or experience. This includes such abilities as an adequate knowledge of electricity, an adequate understanding and practical experience of the system to be worked on and an understanding of the hazards that may arise and the precautions which need to be taken.
The Electrical Safety Council has warned about a fundamental risk associated with the repair of electrical appliances.
In a report warning about the dangers associated with storing power tools and gardening equipment in potentially leaky outdoor sheds, the ESC also mentioned that each year 2.5 million shocks are received from the mains voltage electricity supply. Surprisingly it reported that trying to repair an appliance while it is still plugged-in accounts for 13 per cent of all accidents...you have been warned...or better still, fit an RCD!