There is nothing more shocking than unplugging a piece of equipment in preparation for PAT Testing when all of a sudden, the build-up of static electricity shorts through my fingers. It’s at that point I remain professional and smile before wishing my fingers would stop tingling …
PAT Testing What’s More Shocking Than A Plug?
Harm can be caused to any person when they are exposed to ‘live parts’ that are either touched directly, or indirectly by means of some conducting object or material. Voltages over 50 volts AC or 120 volts DC are considered hazardous.
“Electricity can kill!”
Each year about 1,000 accidents at work involving electric shocks or burns are reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Around 30 of these are fatal and most of them arise from contact with overhead or underground power cables.
Shocks from faulty equipment can cause severe and permanent injury and can also lead to indirect injuries after a fall from a ladder, scaffold, or other work platforms. Faulty electrical appliances can also lead to fires. As well as causing injuries and loss of life, fires cause damage to plant, equipment and property.
Most electrical accidents occur because individuals:So, who is most at risk from electricity? Well, anyone can be exposed to the dangers of electricity while at work and everyone should be made aware of the dangers. Those most at risk include maintenance staff, those working with electrical plant, equipment and machinery and people working in harsh environments such as construction sites.
Are working on or near equipment which is thought to be dead but which is, in fact, live.
Are working on or near equipment which is known to be live, but where those involved are without adequate training or appropriate equipment, or they have not taken adequate precautions.
Misuse equipment or use electrical equipment which they know to be faulty.
As well as a moral duty on employers to protect employees and members of the public, general health and safety legislation covers all employers and workplaces. In addition, specific duties and obligations are laid out in The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.
They place a duty on employers, employees and the self-employed to:
Have the electrical systems constructed in a way that prevents danger.
Maintain their electrical systems as necessary to prevent danger.
Have work on, use of, or closure of, electrical systems carried out in a way that prevents danger.
Electrical equipment used in hazardous environments (e.g. extremes of weather, temperature, corrosive conditions) must be constructed or protected to prevent it becoming dangerous.
Only those with adequate knowledge or experience, or who are under adequate supervision should work with, or on, electrical equipment that could cause danger or injury.
Injury to staff due to an electric shock or electrical burn leading to unconsciousness or requiring resuscitation; or admittance to hospital.
Electrical short circuit or overload causing fire or explosion.
Plant or equipment coming into contact with overhead power lines.
There is a misconception that PAT Testing should be carried out annually, but the legislation requires employers to decide on the frequency of testing based on their latest risk assessment.To comply with current legislation, there should be a system where formal visual inspections are carried out and recorded, backed up by a system of Portable Appliance (PAT) Testing performed by a trained professional on a regular basis.
Until next time …If you’re worried your plant and equipment doesn’t comply with The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 and want to ensure the safety of your staff and the public, then you should call me on 0330 6600264 and let’s arrange a site survey which will let you evaluate the risks and help you plan a regular PAT Testing schedule.