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PAT Testing News Round-Up - September 2011

This issue covers:

BAPAT membership is launched

The Association for Professional Appliance Testing is now up and running and open for membership.

The Association offers a tiered structure to make membership accessible to everyone working in the industry of In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment.

With the vision of ensuring a safe healthy working and living environment, the Association looks to provide its members with Support and Promotion of using registered members, Education of the end user of electrical equipment and Lobbying for best practice at all times and the introduction of nationally recognized standards to the industry of In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment

Membership details can be obtained by calling 0845 052 3515

Electrical services firm admits safety breach

Two workers suffered facial burns from a flash fire while they carried out electrical work at a ferry terminal in Liverpool.



Hayes Electrical and Building Services was contracted to replace a temporary generator for the landing stage at Pier Head Ferry Terminal with a supply from the mains. After carrying out a risk assessment the company wrongly concluded that there was a low risk of workers suffering an electric shock and proceeded to carry out the work without the power supply being cut off.



Two workers were injured while carrying out work to install a new fuse to the switchboard.

The HSE inspector said the work should have been done out of hours and the company should have identified the need to cut the power supply. The company pleaded guilty to breaching reg.14 of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, for allowing the men to engage in work near a live conductor and was fined as well as being ordered to pay costs.

HSE amends incident reporting rules

Businesses have been reminded by the HSE that new incident reporting arrangements being introduced as part of the RIDDOR requirements.

Only fatal and major injuries and incidents will be able to be reported by phone to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), with all other work-related injuries and incidents reportable under RIDDOR to be reported via one of a suite of seven online forms available on HSE's website.

Trevor Carlile, HSE's Director of Strategy said: "This should not be a significant change for many, as more than half of reportable injuries are already notified to HSE through the website. The new forms are intuitive and quick and easy to complete. The most important thing is that there will still be somebody at the end of the phone to assist those who are reporting a traumatic event that has resulted in a death or major injury.”

More details at www.hse.gov.uk

Managing health and safety issues

The British Safety Council has launched an e-learning version of the well established IOSH Managing Safely course.

The course, which is intended for managers and supervisors in all organisations across all sectors, provides delegates with sufficient knowledge to be able to manage health and safety issues in their workplace.

This course, which can be completed in 24 hours, includes an introduction to health and safety management, the identification of hazards, assessing and controlling risks, understanding your responsibilities, investigating accidents and incidents and measuring performance. More details at www.britsafe.org.

The future of electrical contracting

The NICEIC and the ECA have jointly produced their ‘2021 Vision: The Future of the Electrical Contracting Industry’.

This major research provides a long term vision of the industry and is based on a survey of 1,000 trade respondents.

At a time when many contractors are recovering from recession and concentrating on survival, the ECA and NICEIC wanted to help the industry to see past the short term and prepare for the next stage of their development.

The survey found that there are many perceived threats to the industry but also many opportunities including opportunities in the drive for a low carbon economy. It also highlighted that those contractors who are willing to develop and learn new skills will grow and thrive.

The drive for sustainability in all areas of UK life will change the shape of the wider construction industry as well as the electrical contracting industry. The shift away from new build to refurbishment and renovation, the use of more sophisticated, integrated systems and the need, which has been recognised by the Government, for training to ensure that trades have the skills to help the UK work towards the sustainable vision.

To read 2021 Vision visit www.eca.co.uk/2021vision or www.niceic.com.

Hazards in the kitchen

Earlier this year the Electrical Safety Council highlighted how dirty and chaotic kitchens are not just a health hazard – they can also be a fire risk with almost 13,000 fires each year arising from the misuse of, and faults with, electrical cooking appliances.

In particular the ESC warned that over half of all accidental fires in UK homes – that’s more than 20,000 per year - are caused by people’s casual attitude to electrical safety and misuse of electrical appliances.

“In our opinion – which is shared by the fire and rescue professionals we consulted - a considerable number of kitchen fires occur through a casual attitude to cleaning and safety in kitchens,” explains Martyn Allen, head of technical development at the ESC, “And our research also indicates that over a quarter of Britons suspect at least one of their electrical appliances is faulty.”

More details www.esc.org.uk.

Seaward PAT Technology boosts Hawkesworth growth

Investment in new test instrumentation is helping one of the UK’s leading providers of portable appliance testing services to expand its operations and services to customers.

Hawkesworth Appliance Testing has equipped its entire network of test engineers with new Seaward PrimeTest 250 portable appliance testers as part of an investment strategy to ensure that clients meet their safety testing responsibilities as cost-effectively and efficiently as possible.

Hawkesworth has 110 test engineers carrying out over 11 million pat tests at over 20‚000 customer locations and has become the largest independent PAT testing company in the UK and Ireland.

The introduction of Seaward PrimeTest 250s across the company’s national electrical safety testing network has now been completed as part of an investment strategy aimed at improving working efficiencies and productivity.

The handheld PrimeTest 250 is a comprehensive PAT tester that includes all of the electrical safety tests required to meet the IEE Code of Practice including RCD trip time, protective conductor current and touch current.

As part of its all round test capability‚ the unit also includes a 250V DC insulation test for testing sensitive electrical appliances and surge protected leads, and can also be used to test 3 phase industrial plant and equipment with the use of a special adaptor.

The unique range of tests incorporated in this lightweight and highly versatile instrument means that most workplaces appliances can be tested using long life battery power. However the capability of the new tester also extends to powered earth leakage and touch current measurement tests when required.

Ross Maddock‚ Senior Operations Manager for Hawkesworth‚ said: “In an ever changing economic climate‚ investment in new technology is imperative to stay at the forefront of the PAT sector.

“We work closely with clients to help them keep their businesses running safely by carrying out the appropriate tests at the right time and by giving them professional advice on risk management.

“Our responsibility to clients extends to ensuring that the tests are carried out as efficiently as possible – but without any compromise on the validity or integrity of the testing process.”

The PrimeTest 250 helps Hawkesworth fulfil this requirement by providing a versatile and lightweight PAT test solution for the wide variety of electrical appliances and equipment used in all commercial and industrial workplaces.

Read the full article.

PrimeTest 350 wins Office Test seal of approval

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."

Find out more about the PrimeTest 350 PAT Tester.

What's On?

NICEIC TechTalks
East Anglia – Tuesday 1st November 2011 – Newmarket Racecourse
North West – Wednesday 23rd November 2011 – Wigan Football Club, DW Stadium
Yorkshire – Thursday 24th November 2011 – York Racecourse
Wales – Tuesday 6th December 2011 – Cardiff City Football Stadium
Midlands – Tuesday 24th January 2012 – Birmingham City Football Club, St Andrews
Northern Ireland – Wednesday 1st February 2012 – Everglades Hotel, Derry
South West – Tuesday 14th February 2012 – National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth
North East – Tuesday 6th March 2012 – Sunderland Football Club, Stadium of Light
Scotland – Tuesday 17th April, 2012 – Livingston Football Club

ELEX shows
10th – 11th November: Sandown Park, Surrey

Electrex 2012
18th -19th April 2012: Hall 2,Birmingham NEC

Facilities Management Association
24th November: FMA Networking Event, London Museum
23rd – 24th January 2012: 30th Facilities Management Forum, Radisson Blu, London Stanstead

Your PAT Questions Answered

Q. What is the difference between Earthing and Bonding?
A. Both Earthing and Bonding are associated with fault protection – but they are distinct from each other in their purposes and general arrangements. Earthing is the name given to the connection of the exposed conductive parts of an installation (such as metallic enclosures of Class 1 electrical equipment) to the main earthing terminal of the installation. Bonding (or, to give it its full name, equipotential bonding) is the electrical connection of the extraneous conductive parts (such as metallic service pipes and exposed structural metalwork that are liable to introduce Earth potential) and exposed conductive parts within the installation to maintain them at substantially the same potential. Main binding connects extraneous conductive parts to the main earthing terminal of the installation. The purpose of earthing is to limit the duration of touch voltages. The purpose of bonding is to limit the magnitude of such voltages. For more details see the Autumn issue of Switched on from the Electrical Safety Council (www.esc.org.uk).

Q. I am having a problem with carrying out an earth bond test on an office desk fan which is a Class I piece of electrical equipment. The trouble is I cannot get a good earth on the appliance and the metal work screws etc are not sufficient.
A.The guidance in the IEE Code of Practice is that "The continuity test should be made between accessible earthed metal parts and the earth pin of the plug." If earthed metal parts are not accessible they cannot be continuity tested. Make a note on the test record that the appliance is Class I but has no accessible earthed metal parts and as such an earth continuity test cannot be performed. Another way to view this is that the reason accessible metal parts are earthed is to provide protection against electric shock in the event of a failure in the basic insulation. If the part in question is not accessible there is no risk of electric shock.

Q. I have recently been testing in holiday lets where both properties had fitted fridges that are wired from a fused spur. During earth bond testing, on both fridges I could not get any continuity at all between the body of the fridge and the spur fixing screw. Am I missing something with fitted fridges - are they not earth bonded to the metal body? (I did check I had the right fused spur!) Added to this, I carried out similar test on inset oven and hob fed from a fused spur, and the oven passed in situ test but there was no return on the hob.
A. A few things come to mind. If there was no earth to the spur, the tester would show a warning message on power up as it would detect the missing earth. The fact that the first part of the in-situ test did not flag up a warning also makes me think that there is an earth to the spur. If the oven passed an in-situ eath test on your tester, then this tends to suggest the instrument is functioning correctly. I'm can't think of any reasons why the metal parts of a fridge would not be earthed; this would only allowable if the exposed metal parts of the fridge were double insulated from mains. The sensible approach would be to have the fixed wiring checked out in case there is a wiring fault.

Q. Should I record the actual test results or is it ok to simply label the appliance after testing?

A. Labelling an appliance after PAT testing is good practice as it provides a clear indication to the user that is has been safety tested and when the re-test is due. The label alone however does not provide details of what tests were performed or the safety margin between measured results and the allowable limits. Maintaining a record system of dates, tests carried out and other appropriate details makes it much easier to demonstrate compliance with the EAWR 1989 regulations if the electrical safety of an appliance is ever brought into question.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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