No matter what happens, you do wonder if it’s ever worth bothering to carry out testing for some customers. After all some really do think they know best. I recently returned to a site which, due to the nature of the environment, requires some areas to be tested every six months …
Server PAT Testing Nightmare
But now the site was due for a full annual inspection. This was not only requested by the Facilities Manager but is also a requirement of their insurance.
All of these issues were documented and the relevant report was produced. I can only assume that once the testing was completed and the appliances removed from service, this would be the last we would see of them. That is not necessarily the case. Twelve months ago, it was noted that there were a number of items that failed the basic visual inspection, but there were also some issues that needed urgent attention such as broken socket plates, missing printer covers and in one instance a cable that was so badly damaged it sparked when it was moved.
One such issue related to a twin waterproof power socket, located near the sink, in which the face plate was broken and a piece of the cover was actually missing. For safety reasons, you would have thought something like this would have been addressed as a matter of urgency – how wrong could I be? As I said, I attended the site six months ago, to carry out some of the inspection and testing of the high risk appliances and again reported a number of appliances that had failed the PAT inspection. But in this instance, it was indicated that there were some of the issues that needed urgent attention.
So here I am 6 months later, testing the section where the reported socket was. Low and behold, there is the socket, still with the broken plate – what was the point? They obviously couldn’t care less!
Onto the next area. Checking the reports from last year, I noted that there was a couple of issues highlighted in this area. This time it was noted that two appliances had failed because the covers had been removed, I can just about remember the conversation “oh, it’s to save time when we change a roller.” If that was the case then the cover would not have been designed in the first place! So the client had removed the big red FAILURE – DO NOT USE label and continued to use the appliances as normal.
On to the final area for testing: the Server room. Now, I have seen server cabinets with the cables all neat and tidy and I have seen, well, this room. What the heck happened? The loose cables looked more like spaghetti than cable! How anyone could work out which lead went where I shall never know.
I was advised that under no circumstances were the servers going to be turned off. I asked when they were due for a planned shut down and/or upgrade. The response was “that will never happen we are a 24 hour system.” I did ask about a back-up system, so we can inspect and test the servers and then revert back afterwards. Their response left me gob smacked: “We do not operate a back-up system.“
I tried to explain the need to do a full combined inspection but was told that I should only carry out the visual inspection. In my mind, I said something like “how the heck do I visually inspect this equipment, I can barely see it?” Anyway, one of the first things that I found was the poor fitting of one of the leads and just touching it caused it to crackle and spark, resulting in the appliance to lose power! Guess what? it was the server that had now turned itself off! Oh boy, did they come running quickly. “What the heck are you doing, you have turned off the server we cannot work!” I quickly explained what had happened and showed the person the spark when the cable was moved – thankfully it did it again and he seemed to calm down.
That one visual inspection could have resulted in the property being burnt down, but just touching it ensured that they could replace the damaged lead. On careful inspection of reports from the last time of testing there was a damaged lead for one of the servers. I wondered if they just decided to use the one we had failed before and removed the fail label? Coincidence? We shall never know.
PAT testing is there for a reason: to protect equipment and people from danger. If you’d like to talk to FTS Safety Solutions about your testing requirements then call me on 0330 6600264 or click here to ping over an email because if we fail something, it’s for a reason!
Until next time …