Articles related to electrical equipment safety tips mainly around portable appliance testing

12 Reasons why electric shock accidents involve portable appliances so often (number 8 may shock you!)

Reasons why electric shock accidents involve portable appliances

One of the biggest problems in any workplace is the use of portable electrical equipment. Referred to as portable appliances, electrical equipment fitted with a plug presents a high risk of becoming damaged and thus dangerous. 

Portable appliances include any electrical appliances that can be plugged in and include computers, kettles, toasters, heaters, hair driers, power tools, etc.

Considered the main problem with portable appliances is that they have a flexible insulated electric cable, which is used to connect it to the plug and aid its movement, that can easily become damaged. Additionally not all cables are secured to the appliance, and are plugged into it themselves.

12 Reasons why electric shock accidents involve portable appliances

A high proportion of electric shock accidents in the workplace involve portable appliances. Here are just a few reasons for this:

  1. Using inappropriate equipment for the job
  2. Using inappropriate equipment for the environment
  3. Overloading extension leads
  4. Adding to or ‘daisy chaining’ extension leads, potentially overloading them 
  5. Misuse of appliances, such as running cables under carpets and furniture, where the insulation can become damaged
  6. Using the flex to pull the plug out of the socket
  7. Trapping cables in doors and drawers
  8. Allowing incompetent people to carry out repairs
  9. Allowing poor repairs to take place, such as the use of insulation tape
  10. Allowing incompetent people to test equipment, such as cheapest bidding ‘sticker jockeys’
  11. Continuing to use defective equipment
  12. Failing to regularly inspect, test and or maintain electrical equipment. 

Reasons why electric shock accidents involve portable appliances

Portable equipment can be problematic, whether its in your kitchen, office or workshop, even your laptop and phone chargers present a risk. If you are not aware of the hazards and or you don’t implement measures to control them you may be exposing yourself, employees and other users to the risk of an electric shock. 

If you don’t take preventative measures to maintain safe electrical appliances you will find that before too long the appliance will deteriorate. 

A deteriorated appliance, not repaired, presents a real danger to human life. 

To ensure your equipment doesn’t become dangerous you need to implement a preventative maintenance programme including regular inspections and testing of your equipment. 

The aim is to test and repair appliances before they develop a fault, so regular checks should be carried out, appropriate to the risks associated with the appliance and its use. 

These regular inspections need to include repairs to defective appliances, or replacement of any that are beyond repair (or removal from use). 

Records should be kept of inspections, maintenance, tests and repairs to show that you’re taking appropriate measures and flag up any trends. 

The main electrical problem in any workplace is portable appliances; appliances are moved frequently and so easily damaged, easily tampered with and difficult to keep track of. 

Deciding how often to test your appliances can also be quite tricky as there are so many factors to consider; in fact this being such an arduous task is one of the main reasons why so many businesses get appliances tested annually. 

DRA PAT Testing provide portable appliance testing services across the North East of England; contact us today to discuss your needs or to get a quote. 

2021-10-11T12:11:26+00:00Safety tips|

6 ways to avoid an electrical fire and to prevent your workplace burning down

6 ways to avoid an electrical fire

  • Don’t leave washing machines, tumble driers and dishwashers running when you’re out or asleep

  • Don’t leave portable heaters switched on and unattended

  • Don’t overload sockets with too many plugs

  • Register your electrical products and check for recalls

  • Always follow the manufacturers guidance when using appliances

  • Don’t buy fake electrical goods or cheap imports

  • Don’t use damaged electrical appliances

Orange fire burning on a black background to suggest electrical fire

DRA PAT testing specialise in appliance testing; contact us today for a PAT Testing quote

Approx 60% of fires are caused by faulty electrics

2020-10-01T14:28:17+00:00Safety tips|

Socket safety – why do we use socket covers when they’re not needed?

electric socket cover

Please don’t use these electric socket covers

socket covers are dangerous

These plastic ‘socket protectors‘ or ‘socket protective covers‘ are not made to any British Standard and the pin dimensions tend not to comply with BS1363, which often results in internal damage to the socket outlet contacts or their own pins braking off and getting stuck in the socket. For this reason they are not recommend. But also for this reason, the PAT engineer needs to check every socket in your property to make sure they are not damaged, including that no pins are stuck in.

How many sockets in your school, nursery or home have those little flat white ‘covers’ stuck in them? Parents and teachers plug them in to electric sockets because they think they’ll make the socket safer to children.

However, in reality – they’re actually really dangerous, pose a fire risk and increase the chances of a user getting an electric shock!

When was the last time you tried to pull one out? They’re actually really hard to get out, not only that you find yourself reaching for something thin like a screwdriver or knife to force them out, risking contact with now live parts (thanks to the ‘pins’ on the cover). 

Let me explain how that happens – UK electric sockets are considered to be the safest in the world. They have a safety orientated shutter mechanism inside the socket, prevents your fingers from reaching any live wires; they’re designed this way on purpose. In fact that shutter mechanism prevents anything except a plug from reaching anything live…. anything except a plug; and that ‘safety’ socket cover you use pretends to be a plug. 

There are many risks to using these socket covers, a website has even been dedicated to raising awareness of their dangers; fatally flawed lists some of the biggest risks as: 

  • Socket contact damage – caused by inserting the socket cover can lead to overheating and possible fires
  • Socket shutter damage – caused by inserting the socket cover means the shutters will not be able to protect children or anything else inserted in a hole
  • The design of some socket covers make it possible to poke pins and paper clips through them, into the live parts!
  • If the socket covers’ earth pin breaks off it gets stuck in the earth hole which prevents the shutters from closing
  • The pins are not always the correct size for the socket making the covers easy to remove; some even simply fall out themselves
  • Some of the cover pins are the wrong size, the other way, making it nearly impossible to get them out (we added this one)
  • Children like to play with the covers; plugging them in upside down opens the shutter and exposes live contacts

Socket Covers should NOT be inserted into sockets – they are dangerous!

There is loads of evidence that badly designed socket covers are a fire risk and expose live power, increasing the risk of electric shock. We have been advising clients for years against using these devices. If you really are desperate to cover a socket get a proper socket cover fitted; these can have button release or actual locks with keys. Whilst they’re not recommended for use everywhere they may just give that extra peace of mind you’re looking for. 

The message here is that these covers prevent built in safety mechanisms in your sockets from working correctly; so instead of protecting your children you are in fact exposing them to an increased risk of electric shock. 

Please do NOT use Electrical Socket Covers! They are not safe!

If you are using them, please, safely, remove them. 

This video produced by JPS Electrical Services from Bristol highlights the dangers of using electrical socket covers. 

A British safety standard from 1947 that requires the top hole of the 3-hole socket to have a “shutter” on the inside means that the live and neutral holes can’t be accessed until the shutters are opened. That happens when the earth pin of the plug is inserted into the top hole, thus opening the shutter.

Only by inserting a plug, with a top pin, can the shutter be opened, which in turn activates the live part of the socket… making the socket safe – so there is no need to cover it; even little children’s fingers won’t open the socket. 

So there is no need to use “child safety covers” which have actually been found to be dangerous, or address labels! 

UK socket with cover

When we are doing your PAT testing, if we come across any covers we will remove them. 

PAT Testing helps to improve electrical safety

Portable appliance testing isn’t just about testing equipment to see if it is safe, but also looking at other areas of your electrical system to make sure what you are doing is safe. Perhaps cables cause a trip hazard or are so messy there is a risk of overheating. But also if we come across socket covers inserted in sockets, we’ll advise you of the dangers of continuing to use them. We also recommend if you are really concerned about sockets being accessible consider putting a closable lid socket cover over the full socket face plate. 

If you require some safety guidance or your electrical equipment testing contact us by calling 0191 6661009 or emailing info@draelectricals.co.uk 

You may be interested in our pages on PAT testing in schools or PAT testing in offices

2021-10-11T15:08:23+00:00Safety tips, Schools|

8 Top Tips to prevent an electrical accident – you’ll get a shock if you do number 4

8 Top Tips to prevent an electrical accident

  1. Don’t use an appliance if you don’t know how to
  2. Don’t repair an appliance that is plugged in
  3. Turn off the power before attempting work on the mains supply
  4. Don’t work in damp environments or with wet hands
  5. Don’t place flexible cables under carpets where they can deteriorate unseen
  6. Don’t use an appliance where wires can be seen through the flexible cable
  7. Replace damaged cables with new cable; don’t repair with insulating tape
  8. Get appliances testing regularly by a competent PAT Tester
2020-05-06T12:00:01+00:00Safety tips|

9 handy tips to avoid an electrical fire – number 6 will affect most of us

extension block with too many appliances plugged in

9 handy tips to avoid an electrical fire

Almost half of all domestic fires are caused by electricity; there were over 20,000 electrical fires in 2011; there are 70 deaths and 350 injuries every year as a result of electrical fires.

The most common causes of electrical fires are:

  • Faulty appliances
  • Misused appliances
  • Overheated appliances

Tips for Avoiding an Electrical Fire

  1. Ask your landlord for an electrical installation condition report if you live in a rented home
  2. Ensure your electrical supply meets the UK standard BS 7671
  3. Check sockets, plugs and flexible cables regularly for signs of wear and tear
  4. Check your electrical appliances are compatible with UK socket outlets
  5. Remember to unplug appliances that could overheat and cause a fire when not in use, such as hair straighteners, irons and portable radiators
  6. Don’t use cheaper ‘fake‘ versions of popular appliances, like phone chargers – they are an increased risk of overheating
  7. Don’t overload multi socket adaptors and extensions
  8. If you smell burning but can’t find a fire – call the Fire Brigade for help – it could mean an appliance is faulty and overheating – acting fast may help avoid further damage
  9. Get workplace equipment PAT tested to find any faults.
2020-05-06T11:58:39+00:00Safety tips|

Product recalls are being ignored

More than 4 million household appliances have been recalled by manufacturers in the past four years with faults that include a risk of fire or electric shock, and yet the majority may still be in UK homes.

The findings are reported in a study published by Electrical Safety First. Since the start of 2011, 228 different electrical products have been recalled– including seven types of fridge, four washing machines and seven hairdryers – yet typically only 10% to 20% of recalled products are ever returned or repaired.

Underestimating the risks posed by recalled products is a major factor in the low recall success rate. Many people surveyed by Electrical Safety First said they associated recalls with ‘annoying faults’ rather than safety, and 2.6 million UK adults say they have knowingly ignored a recall notice. The Charity wants to raise awareness of the risk of ignoring a recall notice after it found that 77% of people would be more likely to respond if they understood the potential dangers.

Electrical Safety First is also keen to stress that whilst there have been a number of high profile fires involving kitchen ‘white goods’ in the past year, smaller items can also pose a safety risk.

Its research found that a fifth of UK adults would be more likely to respond to a recall of a large product than a small product, yet the Charity found the electrical items most reported as faulty or dangerous are smaller ones such as chargers, hairdryers, toasters and kettles.

Full details at Electrical Safety First’s own website  – Originally produced by Seaward

We recommend that when you buy an electrical appliance, complete the warranty card that comes with it, and return it. You’ll then be notified directly if the product gets recalled.

2021-09-07T14:03:36+00:00Safety notices, Safety tips|

10 Top Electrical Safety Tips

10 Top Electrical Safety Tipstop ten electrical tips

You may think the dangers of electricity are obvious; but you’ll be surprised how many people don’t know

These are our 10 Top electrical safety tips to help you stay safe, to keep your staff and customers safe at work, and to avoid electrical fires and accidents.

  1. Make sure you turn off electrical appliances when they’re not in use. Before leaving work at night, make it a routine to check that all electrical devices not in use are properly shut off.
  2. Never ever overload sockets. You shouldn’t use more than one plug in every socket.
  3. If you have to use an adapter make sure it’s the type that has a fuse. The total output of all plugs in the adapter should be no more than the specified rating (usually 13 amps).
  4. Add a residual current device (RCD) which is an easy way to cut off power and prevent shocks, especially if you are working outdoors
  5. Reguarly check the condition of plugs and sockets. You should pay attention to any burnt or frayed wires on appliances. It’s best to get the services of an electrician to fix such problems
  6. Never ever allow electric wires or cables to trail over kitchen appliances like toasters or oven tops.
  7. If you are hammering nails into the wall to hang a picture frame make sure you know there are no live wires hidden behind.
  8. Avoid mixing liquids and electricity. They should be kept as far apart as possible. Touch your appliances with dry hands only. Avoid placing water or other liquids on top of electrical appliances. This is especially important in businesses such as hair salons.
  9. If you’re using a cable reel extension lead make sure it’s full unwound before you plug it in; don’t use it wound up as it may overheat.
  10. Get your electrical appliances checked by a PAT tester on a regular basis

These are our top 10 electrical safety tips for business environments

 

2021-10-11T11:55:31+00:00Safety tips|
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