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PAT Testing News Round-Up - Issue 9

This issue covers:

Fires from electrical appliances

There is considerable evidence that faulty electrical appliances continue to pose a serious threat to people and property.

This theme was highlighted strongly during the recent Electrical Safety Week which saw the Electrical Safety Council link with fire and rescue services around the country to hammer home the message that almost half of all domestic fires start as a result of plug-in products.

Although much of the information related to domestic fires, the implications for the use of similar appliances and electrical equipment in workplaces and non-residential premises are clear – and again highlight the significant preventative role that portable appliance testing provides.

Some extracts from around the country of the dangers that faulty appliances pose include:
Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service says that in 2010/11 234 fires were caused in its area by faulty or misused appliances. These included one fire, which started in a two-bar electric heater, led to the death of a man.
Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service says electrical equipment was the cause of 223 accidental house fires in 2010/11, representing 47% of all the house fires in the county.
South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said, last year, 163 of South Wales 853 house fires were caused by electrical faults, accidents or misuse of electrical equipment. In the period from April 2010 to March 2011, faulty appliances caused 174 fires attended by Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, resulting in 23 casualties.
Surrey Fire and Rescue Service reported that 260 house fires were caused last year by faulty plugs, frayed wires or unattended items. Toasters, grills, dishwashers and electric blankets have all sparked problems.
In West Sussex, in 2011, there were 122 electrical fires, accounting for over quarter of all accidental fires that crews were called to.

In all cases, the messages from the fire and rescue services involved was that this number of incidents can be reduced if everyone checks that the electrical equipment they use everyday is in good shape and is used properly.

Faults highlighted in second hand electrical goods

Hundreds of second-hand electrical goods have been checked by Liverpool trading standards officers in a drive to ensure safety for bargain-hunters.

A three-month project has seen them inspect premises throughout the city which sell second hand goods to ensure that unsafe items are not being sold.

A total of 106 shops were inspected including charity stores, house clearance businesses, antique shops and ‘cash for goods’ national chains.

About 1000 items were checked, including nearly 700 electrical goods, and 68 were seized for not complying with safety requirements.

Among the goods seized were two electric fires, a fridge, coffee-maker, a foot spa and lamps.

Councillor Tim Moore, Liverpool City Council cabinet member for the environment and climate change, said: “This exercise was not just for the benefit of the customers, it was also to help the traders. It was not about trying to catch them out but to help them be more aware of what they need to do to make sure the goods they sell are safe and that their businesses comply with all the relevant legislation.”

The project was partly funded through a grant from the Fire Safety Fund which is part of the Electrical Safety Council.

Fine for electrical safety failures

A bed and breakfast operator in Harrogate has been hit with a £5,000 fine after being prosecuted by the local authority over a string of electrical safety failures.

According to Harrogate News, the owner of a bed and breakfast accommodation in the town was ordered to pay the penalty – as well as costs of £2,090 – by Harrogate Magistrates’ Court last month. Magistrates expressed concern about the business’ failure to resolve the relevant safety issues.

An inspection of the premises by Harrogate Borough Council and the Health and Safety Executive uncovered a number of electrical problems and an improvement notice was served. However, the issues highlighted were not resolved and the matter subsequently proceeded to court.

“Businesses must make sure that their electrical systems are maintained in a safe condition. Had this owner complied with the improvement notice then they wouldn’t have had to pay this hefty fine,” said Cllr Stuart Martin, chair of the Harrogate council’s licensing committee. “Action will be taken against those businesses neglecting to maintain their premises in a safe condition.”

FREE PAT training materials from Seaward

Seaward has put together a range of educational materials to provide fast access to expert advice on portable appliance testing.

Designed to promote best practice, the range of materials includes display posters, an informative test guide – combining practical guidance with the latest technical updates.

The resource pack has been designed to help those involved in the training and education of the electricians of the future – as well as providing a handy reminder of key electrical safety testing topics for professionals.

For those involved in portable appliance testing, Seaward’s 36-page Guide To Portable Appliance Testing provides a comprehensive introduction to the test requirements associated with ensuring the safety of electrical equipment used in the workplace.

The booklet has an easy to follow narrative and test descriptions are accompanied by graphic illustrations and supporting technical data.

Supporting the guide is a set of informative wall charts and posters providing fast and easy reference for testing Class I and Class II electrical equipment.

The resource pack is available free of charge, simply email with your request.



















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