How Electrically Safe is your Business?

The legislation regarding Health & Safety for a business is very clear, employers have a duty to look after the Health and Welfare of their employees, plus including visitors, the general public, customers and volunteers.

In terms of Electrical Safety there are some specific pieces of legislation which should be adhered to, but as a recent survey discovered, (See results at end of this blog) many employers / businesses either are do not know what is expected of them or just dismiss precautions as a waste of money.

Here are some extracts from the relevant regulations:

Regulation 4(2) of the Electricity at Work Regulations:

“ As may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far is reasonably practical, such danger”

Regulation 4(2) of the Electricity at Work Regulations:

“Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair”

Regulation 6 of the Electricity at Work Regulations:

“….includes a requirement that equipment shall be inspected at regular intervals and records kept”

Appliances and equipment are a major cause of electrically caused fires and injuries, a simple fault with an electrical appliance can cause a large amount of damage, heartache, tragedy and cost to your business.

What cost do we put on safety? As regulation 4(2) states: .“….so far as reasonably practicable….”. This suggests that if maintaining your equipment is too difficult and costs too much, then you do not have to comply! However, it is simply a matter of balancing the Risk against the other considerations, ie., cost, effort etc.

But the fact of the matter is, it is very easy and inexpensive to implement an electrical safety regime, no matter how large or small the business is!

What do employers / businesses in reality have to do to comply?

To comply an employer has to implement a regime which includes, some tests & inspections, some training and some record keeping.

Tests: 

  1. Informal inspections by employees or staff members before using an electrical item (No need to keep records of these inspections)
  2. Formal Visual Inspections of the item at regular intervals by a person (can be an employee) who is deemed competent to do so (Keep records of these inspections)
  3. Formal Testing of the item at regular intervals by a person who is competent to do so (The competent person can be either an employee or an outside contractor who has had the required training to do so and keep records of these inspections)

Training: 

Staff and users of the items should have basic training as to what look for

Competent Person- Training to undertake a formal visual inspection and how to log the results and Formal Testing, if this is to be done in-house

Records:

Keep a log of all electrical items, frequencies of inspections and tests and results

Testing:

Although the law talks about maintaining electrical equipment, it does not specify how….although it is the accepted standard that the Institution of Engineers and Technicians (IET) who used to be known as the IEE, offer the guidance in the correct manner to maintain electrical equipment through a Code of Practice which includes the commonly known Portable Appliance Testing, or “PAT Testing”.

Liability:

How would you feel if an employee or a member of the public was injured by one of your appliances?

How would your insurance company view it?

Can you see the question?

“When was the item tested? Can we see the records?”

Would your answer be:

  1. “We have have no records, never had it tested? Did not feel the need”

or

  1. “Here are the records, it was tested on XXX date”

What do you think the Insurance Company’s response would be?

Some Myths busted:

PAT testing is not a legal requirement!

Maintaining your equipment is!

PAT Testing is not done every 12 months!

The regime should include a schedule of both Visual and Testing based on a number of factors including, type of item, environment it is used in and a few others.

Electrical Items all have a sticker with an expiry date on!

That used to be the case, new recommendations are that the sticker only has a test date on. Plus the item does not even need a sticker (though good practice to have one anyway) the records have all the dates etc.

A word of warning:

There is a very wide range of price differences in relation to PAT Testing, do not take the cheapest….get some different prices, in addition to the testing itself, there is also a paperwork and record keeping element to it also, check out what you exactly get for your money?

In conclusion:

So as a business owner, employer, Chairman of a Community Centre, do you feel you are compliant? What do you have to do next?

There are many companies who offer PAT Testing and some which offer training.  Get Technology Together C.I.C. (GTT) are a not-for profit company who in addition to providing Technology Training also offer a comprehensive PAT Testing Service, which includes Training & Consultancy.

  • Users- To know what to look for
  • Manager / Employers – Know what their responsibilities are
  • Competent Person – A staff member to undertake visual inspections
  • PAT Technician – A staff member to undertake the Testing in-house
  • A PAT Testing Service
  • A Consultancy Service – Set up the regime and advise the best options

GTT Staff have many years experience and qualifications, plus DBS checked, Public Liability Insurance. Check out their web site:  www.gtt.org.uk

GTT Can be contacted at   info@gtt.org.uk    07754 391498

Local Business Survey Results:

A tour around 30 shops and local business in South Leeds to inquire about PAT Testing:

  • 3 shops said they sorted although none had any stickers on appliances
  • 26 shops had no clue what were were talking about.
  • 1 shop did say he did need it doing and was waiting for his electrician to get back to him.

A very poor state of affairs when 87% of the survey resulted in ‘No CLUE’

 

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