Workplaces returning to work must prioritise compliance

With the end of lockdown, many companies are preparing to return to working in the office. However, the HSE is urging businesses to pay close attention to compliance regulations, as many properties may have gone without inspection during the lockdown period.

Electrical compliance is extremely important to mitigate risk and stay within the law. Over the lockdown period, it is likely that many electrical appliances’ certificates of compliance may have expired, meaning they must be renewed and inspected by professionals to be safe for use.

The Electricity at Work Regulations state that no electrical equipment should be used when its capability or strength is weakened. Regular portable appliance tests must be carried out by professionals before use.

Experts suggest implementing a planned maintenance schedule to keep on top of compliance in workplaces. This will ensure all aspects of the facility remain safe for use, and within the law.

We provide electrical testing and compliance services to help your business.

2021-09-06T13:20:03+00:00Health and Safety|

PAT Testing Labels

Passed PAT Testing label as used by DRA PAT Testing

DRA’s PAT testing labels

We use our own professional branded company labels; we have used labels in this format and colour scheme for many years.

Every label has its own unique ID number, which matches just one appliance in our database; the appliance it is attached to.

Each label is pre-printed with the month and year the test takes place; it doesn’t need the retest date on as that has not been a requirement since 2012. Showing the date the test took place is the most important, and the PAT Testing Certificate Report you get shows the a actual date in the month.

Our company logo and contact details are on there too.

Whilst the engineers name is not shown on the label to reduce wastage, it does reflect on the reports.

You’ll see our labels all over the North East, as we have tested appliances in literally hundreds of businesses; so if you need your North East PAT testing doing get in touch.

2021-09-08T05:34:03+00:00PAT Testing Info|

HSE update “Thorough examination and testing of equipment” guidance

HSE update “Thorough examination and testing of equipment” guidance

The HSE advises businesses to get their electrical inspections done as soon as possible

DRA PAT Testing Health and Safety At Work image

The HSE advises businesses that have missed their usual ‘retest’ due to the pandemic to get that test done as soon as possible to bring their records up to date.

In early April (2021) the Health and Safety Executive updated their guidance for “thorough examination and testing of equipment“, which includes electrical equipment, and this was agreed with by the Portable Appliance Testing Trade Association – and we agree too.

The HSE have stated that during the coronavirus pandemic, businesses may have found it difficult to carry out their duty to thoroughly examine and test electrical equipment; we have seen this first hand.

This has been because many businesses have been closed, whilst others have reduced or even banned contractors on their sites. We know a number of our clients who have not kept their PAT testing up to date, using Covid as an excuse or reason to put it off; in fact we have had nearly 100 clients postpone their PAT testing in the past 12 months, citing Covid protocols as the main reasons.

But as businesses return to work, putting it off is not something that can be allowed to continue.

In their guidance the HSE has said it fully expects businesses and organisations to have a plan in place for resuming thorough examination and testing of their equipment; something it expects a business to implement.

The document is on the HSE website, link below, entitled “Thorough examination and testing of equipment“.

Electrical appliances need regular maintenance to ensure their safety; PAT testing being done on equipment fitted with plugs.

The excuse of “it hasn’t been used for a year” doesn’t really wash as a reasonable excuse, as that appliance may have been under fault conditions all this time and is just an accident waiting to happen.

We have made our clients aware of this update by the HSE, and recommend that you too bring your own compliance up to date, if it has been allowed to lapse during the pandemic.

Now that businesses are opening again, the need to make sure electrical equipment is safe to start using again is great. Certificates that show out of date, or too long a period since the last test, need updating with new records.

In this update the HSE stated “Within the Electricity at Work Regulations examination and testing is still a legal requirement and a fundamental part of risk management“.

The HSE advises businesses that have missed their usual ‘retest’ due to the pandemic to get that test done as soon as possible to bring their records up to date.

If this sounds like you, get in touch with us today to arrange an appointment to bring your PAT testing up to date too.

2021-09-08T05:37:35+00:00DRA News / Info|

Safe PAT testing for Home Workers

Home visits provide a unique opportunity to carry out Covid – safe PAT testing of electrical equipment provided by companies for their staff to use whilst working from home.

Safe PAT testing for Home Workers – home visits

If your staff are working from home due to Covid, as an employer you want the peace of mind that the equipment you supply staff with is as safe now as it was when it left the office.

For some, it has been over 6 months now (Oct 2020) since the equipment was taken home and it may have missed it’s regular PAT test.

Even if it’s regular check hasn’t been missed how do you know the appliances didn’t get damaged in transit or are being used appropriately at home?

We have the solution – safe PAT Testing outside your staff homes

We have been working through Covid and one of the most regular issues we’re finding is the amount of equipment that is being used by staff at home, and how little of it has been checked since it left the office, and what is the solution to check it is safe? This is… safe PAT testing outside the home.

We will visit the home of each member of staff, and safely, using Covid-safe measures, check their electrical appliances are safe without ever having to go into the property or making contact with the person.

Corona Virus Stay Safe Poster

This is how we do Safe PAT testing

Home Visits

  1. We arrive at the arranged time; the engineer wipes the handles of the box and the inside area (and any other area that might be touched), washes his hands and puts on a pair of clean gloves. He carries the box to the front door, rings the bell (or knocks) and backs away beyond 2 metres.
  2. The client opens the door, they are aware of what to do, but if not we can explain; they should put their appliances in the box, then close their door.
  3. The engineer takes the box to the car / van to conduct the necessary inspection, tests and maintenance. Applies labels as normal, wipes each appliance touched, and put the appliances back in the box. He then carries the box back to the door, rings the bell and steps back 2 metres.
  4. The client opens the door and takes their equipment out of the box. Some pleasantries may be exchanged and then the client closes the door.
  5. The engineer collects the box, returns to his vehicle, wipes the box, puts the wipes in the bin, removes his gloves and puts them in the bin, then washes his hands for more than 20 seconds using hand sanitiser.

Or in the staff car park

This process can just as easily work in your office car park if you don’t want us going to staff houses;

We arrange staggered arrival times, the person pulls up in their car, we put the box down, they fill it up and get back in the car; then we take it away, test it and return it. We would do this working as a team, so we can have a steady flow of vehicles and no hold ups.

How to arrange Safe PAT testing

Arranging safe PAT testing couldn’t be easier. There is a form below to complete, if you do that then we will contact you to discuss the process, prices and make the arrangements.

Safe PAT testing prices are dependent on what we have to do; whether we’re visiting houses or working from one location, how many engineers we have on the job, how many properties we have to visit, how many we can do in an allotted time, what the travel times are, etc.

You would need to provide us with staff addresses and advise staff that this is happening (we can provide email templates); then if you can give us mobile numbers or emails we can send each person a guidance message to what will happen and our estimated arrival time.

If you also have equipment still in your permanent workplace, that you want inspecting too, whilst the premises are empty, we can arrange to do that too.

Tips for the safe use of electrical extension leads

Top 15 Tips for the safe use of electrical extension leads

When we are PAT testing in offices, building sites and pretty much every business we see a lot of instances where socket extension leads are used incorrectly. Here we have put together a list of 15 top tips for the safe use of the extension lead.

Electrical extension leads are often used incorrectly, just because it has 4 sockets doesn’t mean they all need using at the same time.

The one we see most often is daisy chasing; we spend a lot of time educating our clients in why this shouldn’t be done. Daisy chaining increases the risks of overloading sockets which can be a very risky thing to do.

Here are our top 15 TOP Tips for the safe use of electrical extension leads

  1. Do not overload extension leads by plugging in too many appliances, e.g. even though there are 4 sockets it doesn’t mean you can use all 4.
  2. Don’t run extension leads through water or snow on the ground.
  3. Do not use an extension lead instead of permanent wiring.
  4. Do not run extension leads through walls, doorways, ceilings or floors.
  5. Don’t cover the lead – if it is covered, heat cannot escape, which may result in it overheating and catching fire.
  6. It’s best not to use an extension cord for more than one appliance.
  7. If you’re using a lot of extension cords; maybe you don’t have enough sockets; consider getting some new sockets installed
  8. Multiple extensions must be plugged directly into mounted sockets rather than being ‘daisy’ chained together.
  9. Make sure the extension lead is rated for the products to be plugged in
  10. Make sure the extension lead is suitable for use, for example, only use a proper outdoor use lead, outdoors
  11. The appliance or tool that you are using the extension with will have a wattage rating on it – Match this up with your extension; do not use a cord that has a lower rating.
  12. If the cord or plug feels excessively hot stop using it
  13. If the cord or plug is damaged in any way, stop using it – Touching even a single exposed strand of wire can give you an electric shock or burn.
  14. Never use two-pin plugs in 3-hole sockets.
  15. Never force a plug into an outlet if it doesn’t fit.
2021-09-08T05:40:04+00:00Health and Safety|

Dangers and Failures we find

melted plug inside
Melted plug, external

This plug is on a 4-gang extension lead that was overloaded, and so it overheated and melted – this was not in an industrial environment as you’d expect but an office in Newcastle upon Tyne.

loose cables on a plug

This may not look like much but big problems often start off small; this has likely been caused by the lead being pulled to unplug it. We replaced the plug.

It’s not just problem plugs we come across; this socket is testament to that. This socket like many others specially installed in an office was intended to supply power to computers, not to oil filled radiators.

Burnt socket
Sleeved earth pin on an iec computer power lead

This plug is on an “IEC lead”; a computer power lead – which requires earth protection. By putting an insulated sleeve on the earth pin the manufacturer has removed the earth protection. This is a regular occurrence on leads imported from Asia, where they don’t use earth protection.

This microwave oven failed because it was so, well disgusting! This is a mix of rust and food.

Dirty microwave
Broken plug on fan heater

Here is a good example of a broken plug on a fan heater; we come across these quite often, especially in summer when the heater has been left under a desk to be regularly kicked!

Broken light switch on heat lamps

This broken light switch is for the heat lamps used to keep food warm in a restaurant kitchen; this is actually wired directly into the mains too

Damaged rcd

This RCD is supposed to be giving an extra level of protection – look closely and you may be able to see that one of the wires isn’t even going into the ‘plug’

Broken fan heater

Somehow this fan heater has got a nice little hole punched through it; not sure how it happened but it’s enough to fail it as it is beyond repair, and little fingers can get inside it.

overheated extension plug
Overheated extension plug outside

This plug is on an extension cable, probably not intended to power a glass washer in a pub

2020-09-22T21:08:57+00:00Failures|

What you need to know about PAT Testing

What you need to know about PAT Testing

pat testing machine and computers

Pat Testing (also known as Portable Appliance Testing) is a way of checking your electrical equipment to see if it is SAFE.

PAT Testing is an important part of your organisation’s Health and Safety regime. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a small business or a large multi-site corporation; if you use electrical equipment in your business, then you have a responsibility to make sure it is safe.

Additionally many insurance companies insist that PAT Testing be carried out every 12 months (or less) in order to satisfy the conditions of their policy, and local council inspectors (Fire Officers, Health and Safety Officers) routinely ask for evidence of PAT Testing when they carry out their inspections.

We employ competent skilled and experienced engineers to test your equipment. We can test efficiently, quickly and with the minimum of disruption to your business.

To comply with UK workplace regulations for electrical safety you must maintain safe electrical equipment at all times; how you do this is up to you but the only recognised process is called inspection and testing of electrical equipment, otherwise known as portable appliance, or PAT testing. 

This means that you need to get your electrical appliances PAT tested as often as is necessary to ensure your equipment maintains the safety standards. This is because the process of PAT testing confirms an appliance is safe or not; and includes remedial repairs by the test engineer to the plug to ensure the appliance is safe. In addition the results of all the tests have to be recorded, from which you will be provided with a document to confirm the status of each appliance, the test results and guidance on how to improve or continue to manage the safety standards. 

How often you need to get equipment tested is a big area for discussion and there is more information on our PAT testing frequency page, but all you need to do is book us to do your inspections, during which we will assess the risks and recommend retest periods for the equipment you have. This could mean all appliances are tested on a particular retest period, or different types of appliances are tested at different times. For example in an office your stationery desk top computers won’t need testing as often as your laptops that are taken home. 

We recommend at this point you contact us to discuss your situation, or to get a quote for us to do your testing. The rest of the information on this page is going into more detail; it is information which may or may not be of interest to you but it is not essential for booking an appointment. 

2021-09-04T15:19:14+00:00PAT Testing Info|

Why PAT test?

Why PAT Test?

Electrical equipment that is purchased from a reputable supplier should be of a satisfactory safety standard, but it must be maintained to stay that way, so that it does not deteriorate so far that it puts users at risk. 

It is recognised that PAT Testing is the easiest and best way to check electrical equipment is safe, and the process that is followed to achieve this includes carrying out repairs to ensure the appliance is safe. 

Using a local PAT testing company to do this is a benefit to you as it means if you need urgent help anytime you can call on your engineer to come out, who knows you and your business and will be the best possible help. 

PAT Testing is one of the most effective methods to minimise the electrical risks of faulty appliances to users; and it allows duty holders to fulfil their Health and Safety obligations to the regulations including:

  • The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, by taking measures to minimise electrical hazards by inspecting and testing electrical equipment
  • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 which places the responsibility of health and safety of persons in the workplace on the employer – including the self-employed – and employee
  • The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 which requires the employer to carry out sufficient risk assessment of his/her workplace to minimise the risk to staff and visitors, whilst ensuring the health and safety policy of the company is fully implemented

If you do not undertake regular electrical testing, such as PAT Testing, then you leave yourself or your business open to all kinds of issues, should an incident occur. For example, if it is proven that you didn’t undertake appropriate preventative maintenance which resulted in injury or death, this could lead to prosecution from the Health and Safety Executive; and your business insurance could be rendered null and void if it is proven that appropriate measures didn’t take place.

2021-09-04T15:27:12+00:00PAT Testing Info|

Can I PAT test my own equipment?

Can I PAT test my own equipment?

Can I PAT test my own equipment? You can… but why would you want to? 

I can do my own accounts; but why would I want to? When an accountant or a book-keeper can do them much quicker, much better, more efficiently and probably cheaper than I can. 

An electrical appliance must be maintained to a safe standard to comply with the Electricity at Work Regulations; it must be visually checked to make sure there is no visual damage to the plug; is it wired correctly? A visual inspection will find faults in the plug, the fuse, the wiring, the flexible cable, the appliance protection. A person needs to be competent in electrical appliance safety to do all that – are you a competent person?

A PAT testing engineer is trained to do visual inspections; he does them all day every day so is the most competent person to do it. Like your accountant, he can do it better and quicker than you can.

We come across new clients regularly who have tried to do PAT testing in-house, but they have got behind because it takes them so long. In the time it takes them to do a couple of appliances, we could do ten or more. They’re often shocked that we can do in a day what takes them a week. That’s because we are the best at what we do – we are PAT testing experts; just like you are an expert at what you do – you don’t need to do everything.  

Do you have to be qualified to PAT test?

No you don’t; it helps but not essential. People who do PAT testing have to be a ‘competent person’; this doesn’t stipulate whether they need to be qualified or have just done a training course. As experienced Portable Appliance testers we say that you need to be competent first. In fact we have an operator, who has been with us a long time, who has done an electrical apprenticeship, but is not qualified in PAT, but is very good at his job. In fact we’d go so far as to say he is better than a lot of other qualified PAT testers we have come across.

PAT testing machine testing a computer in a school

How much will PAT testing cost?

How much will PAT testing cost you to do it in-house depends on the value of the person doing it to your business. Let’s use the school caretaker as the example. Some schools put their caretaker through a course, buy him the gear then tell him to do the PAT Testing. He hasn’t got time to do it all in a week or two over the holidays like a PAT testing company can, because he has other jobs to do, so he spreads it out over the year. 

But throughout the year he has other jobs to do too, and before you know it the year has gone by, he’s not managed to do more than a hundred items and he’s forgotten everything he learnt on the course. And now the machine needs its annual calibration. 

How much will PAT Testing cost?

  • The cost of a PAT testing course £300.00
  • The cost of a basic PAT tester £400.00
  • The cost of the kit £150.00
  • The cost of software £400.00
  • The cost of annual calibration £100.00
  • Your employees time – priceless

That’s about a thousand pounds set up costs plus your time, and annual calibration and refresher training because staff will forget. Or just book us to do it. 

need to know the inside of a plug if going to PAT test yourself
plug wires and diagram to show how to wire it - need to know if asking the question can I pat test my own equipment

Who can carry out PAT testing?

Who can carry out PAT testing? Any competent person can carry out PAT testing – all it takes is some knowledge, and basic training to get started. 

Can I PAT test without a qualification?

You can PAT test without a qualification. Guidance say you have to be competent to test electrical equipment, not that you have to be qualified. How you get competent is a matter for discussion. The Portable Appliance Testing Trade Association say that you should undergo thorough training by a competent person in order to become competent yourself. The current qualifications are flawed because the course is intended to get delegates through an exam, with the course focus more on pass rates than gaining knowledge. Although if you want to work for another company, you will need to get qualified (City and Guilds 2377) to get a job. 

You could sign up to do a practical skills course; you may find this more beneficial, as you will learn how to test appliances, how to use different machines and gain knowledge in why electrical appliance safety measures are important. The PAT Testing expert run a good training course in practical skills, at different venues around the UK

So, Can you PAT test yourself?

To conclude, Can you PAT test yourself? Yes you can, but we don’t know why you would want to. It’s easier, cheaper and far less hassle to use a PAT testing company. 

  • Lower costs if you contract it out
  • Less hassle if you contract it out
  • Less repeating yourself if you contract it out
  • Loss of man-power doing it yourself 

Don’t try to PAT Test in-house; contact us about doing it for you. 

2021-09-09T09:08:12+00:00PAT Testing Info|

PAT Testing during Covid-19

We are available for bookings during Covid-19 lockdown

Our work can not be done from home, so we are continuing to operate during the Covid-19 Pandemic, albeit on a reduced level. As long as safety measures can be implemented we can still do work for you. 

Note: This is an old post written at the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, and no longer applies. It would make sense to take the post down but Google will penalise us for doing so so we have to leave it here. 

If you can take into account the safety measures being implemented we can still carry out PAT testing for you. 

Operating during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Our work perhaps is not essential, but it has to be done at some point, and many argue that the best time to do a PAT test is when the office is empty – we always feel that to be the case normally but not everyone can get us in at weekends, and there are not enough weekends for everyone, so now may be a great time. 

If your office is currently empty (or any other business premises), now is the best time to get equipment tested. Even if it isn’t all there, what is there can be tested now, and the rest be done when it returns to work. 

All we need is someone to open up, then leave us to get on with our work. 

We are well, and have no symptoms – if that changes we will notify you in advance. 

We are clean; most people that work like we do, in different places all the time, are generally clean anyway – we carried hand sanitiser long before we’d even heard of Covid-19. 

We also keep our equipment clean; cleaning it after every job to make sure no germs are lingering. 

When we get to your workplace to start, we’ll wash our hands before we touch anything. We carry baby wipes if we need to wipe surfaces before or after, and we regularly wash our hands. We use gloves where possible but as labels need applying this isn’t always possible, though we do our best. 

We will expect to maintain a safe distance from any persons from your workplace, and from each other if there is more than one of us on the job, and where possible we will open your windows to ensure good ventilation in the areas where we are working. We’ll shut them too of course. 

Check out our post on how we can visit your staff in their homes to PAT test their equipment, safely. 

Currently my staff are furloughed so they are not working; it is I doing all the jobs that come in, but this can be changed, so if you need a particularly large site doing we can do so. 

Please note we are not doing work in domestic properties were tenants are currently living, as our own safety measure. 

Update: Most of this no longer applies – we have been fully operational since June 2020. 

2021-09-08T05:46:15+00:00PAT Testing Info|
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