phrase in the EAWR is that electrical systems should bemaintained to prevent danger ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’. According to the Institute of Engineering and
Technology (IET), in its Health & Safety Briefing No. 34a Use of Electricity in theWorkplace, the requirement for ‘reasonable practicability’ requires that the risk present is considered on the one hand against the cost and physical difficulty of reducing the risk to an acceptable level on the other. In order to mitigate the risks associated with
faulty portable electrical appliances, the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Memorandum of Guidance on the EAWR identifies that an adequate system of preventative maintenance can provide a means of complying with the regulations. This approach includes ongoing checks by
the users of the equipment, periodic formal checks by a competent person and a programme of combined inspection and testing. Guidance on inspection and testing is also
provided by the IEE Code of Practice for In- Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment. The third edition of the code provides a wide range of information on the tests to be carried out, periodic testing, tester competency and a range of other issues. Importantly the International Electrotechnical
Committee has also now written and proposed BSEN62638 as a new British Standard.When formally adopted this document will provide formal best practice advice on electrical in- service testing procedures and practices – and will also establish common guidance throughout Europe.
Assessing andmanaging the risk In determining the need for effective electrical inspection and testing of appliances, risk analysis is the key to the decision-making process; ‘Nothing ever fails, so I don’t need to test’ does not constitute a risk analysis. Only when the risk has been properly
assessed and understood can it be managed. Risk is regarded as a combination of the probability of occurrence of harm and the severity of that harm and risk analysis involves the systematic use of available information to identify hazards and estimate the risk. It follows that risk should take into account
the working environment, the user and their likelihood of abusing the equipment or
reporting damage, the equipment construction (Class I or Class II) and equipment type (e.g. hand held equipmentmight be dropped and somemight be used in association with water such as some cleaning appliances). For all of these reasons risk analysis is the
critical element in determining the frequency of inspection and testing.
How often should I test? The aimof planned and proactive PAT testing safety programmes is to detect potential problems with electrical appliances before they occur – but there are no absolute rules regarding how often an itemof electrical equipment should be tested. Clearly combined inspection and testing
measures should be appropriate to the particular risk posed by the equipment and its environment. Thismeans thatmaintenance procedures in offices and other low risk areas might be required less frequently than in other high risk environments such as factory workshops or construction sites – but will still be needed to verify safe working conditions. The underlying principle for frequency of testing of appliances is therefore that the duty holder (the person with the equipment "within their
Fig 1: Demonstrating Compliance
Compile Asset Register
Determine environment, user, construction, type
Define Frequency of Test and Inspection
Perform Test and Inspection
Label Assets Record Results
What electrical equipment is on site?What is the risk and how is it best managed? IEE Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment HSE Memorandum of Guidance on the Electricity atWork Regulations HSR25 advises that records of tests should be kept throughout the working life of equipment
control), with the advice of the test company, must assess the need for testing the equipment against the following criteria:
1. Type of equipment (portable, hand-held or transportable).
2. Type of construction – Class I or Class II 3. Style of use (continuous, infrequent, rough). 4. Age of the equipment. 5.
If regularlymoved or transported and by whatmeans.
6. Type and competency of personnel using the equipment.
7. Environment of usage (outdoors, construction sites, hazardous atmospheres etc).
8. Results of previous tests. 9. Manufacturer's recommendations. 10. Effect of anymodifications or repairs to the equipment.
Frequency of testing is therefore an important factor that requires proper consideration. Guidance is available in the HSE Guidance Note ‘Maintaining Portable and Transportable Electrical Equipment’ and also in the IEE ‘Code of Practice for In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment’. Please see Fig 1.
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