This issue covers:
- New energy efficiency labelling program
- DO4000: High flying earth bond testing for aerospace maintenance
- ESC calls for overhaul of recall system
- Check out EU product recall website
- Herts tool company fined for electrical safety failings
The Parliament and the Council of the European Union (EU) have amended the EU’s energy-efficiency labelling program regulations for office equipment.
The EU originally issued energy-efficiency labeling regulations in 2008 to support its partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program.
Since then the EU has also established a framework that created ecodesign requirements for a wide range of energy-related products, as well as a 2010 directive addressing labelling and product information requirements. In addition, the EU and the U.S. have recently signed an updated agreement defining the coordination of their respective energy-efficiency labeling programs for office equipment.
The amended EU regulations were issued to accurately reflect these and other changes and have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union. More details at http://eur-lex.europa.eu.
Improved testing of earth bonding connections between fuel tanks and airframe sections is provided by the DO4000 range of high performance, digital milliohmmeters now available from Cropico.
The portable and rugged instrument includes several advanced features to check the integrity of earth connections within an aircraft’s body as an integral part of an advanced quality control programme. The DO4000 can also be a key feature of maintenance programmes designed to identify and reduce the potential for airframe corrosion on front line fighter aircraft. Technicians can utilise the instrument to measure the ground points on a range of civilian and military aircraft and helicopters.
These ground points are located at various key points around the airframe and the DO4000 enables technicians to quickly and easily check that the resistance levels between each one are lower than <2.5milliOhm. Ground points are required to create a safe electrical network inside an aircraft - when it flies through dry air it gets statically charged, so when it lands this needs to be safely discharged through the ground.
Features of the DO4000 include forward and reverse current measurement with auto averaging, true current zero, long scale length and a selectable measurement range from 40mΩ to 4kΩ with respective resolutions between 10uΩ and 1Ω. Within the range, model 4001 also includes temperature compensation, with preset coefficients for copper and aluminium plus user settable coefficients for other materials. Temperature measurement over the range –50 to +800ºC is also available.
Protection up to 415V rms is provided at the measurement terminals and push button operation is achieved easily by clearly marked function controls. Direct reading measured values are displayed on a four-digit LCD display. Over range and low battery indication is also provided and warning LEDs illuminate when an open circuit lead condition is detected. The 4000 series can be supplied with a rechargeable battery option featuring a battery pack, docking station and charger. .
The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) has called for electronics manufacturers to face unlimited fines if they undertake inadequate or slow recalls, following growing concerns over the effectiveness of the recall system and the emergence of a number of serious incidents involving recalled products.
The current penalty for manufacturers who delay or take inadequate action in a recall situation is only £5,000 but the ESC would like to see tougher penalties based on a percentage of profits from the recalled product. This change in legislation would help ensure manufacturers respond quickly and effectively in recall situations.
The ESC is also inviting Trading Standards to set out clear and unambiguous guidelines on exactly what a manufacturer should do if they have produced a product that is subject to a recall. The organisation’s research shows that typically only 10-20% of recalled electrical products are ever returned, exposing millions of people in the UK to the risk of fire or electrocution. Over the last six years there have been 266 recall notices for electrical items.
In addition to the proposed change to fines, the council also outlined proposals for a new centralised product registration system, co-ordinated by the charity, which could help manufacturers trace their products to the consumer in a recall situation. The database being proposed would aim to encourage more people to submit their details at the point of purchase or immediately afterwards.
Emma Apter from the Electrical Safety Council said: “The current recall system is not effective enough, and without tougher penalties there is no incentive for manufacturers to act quickly and take the best corrective action possible. Whilst it is a complex issue, with no quick fix solution, we believe there are a number of steps that have the potential to make a significant improvement.” More details at www.esc.org.uk/.
Full details of all the latest product recall reports are provided by the European Commission’s weekly overview report of RAPEX notifications. Included is information on a large range of electrical and electronic products that could pose a danger to users, along with updates and reports on previously recalled items.
For details see: www.ec.europa.eu/
A Hertfordshire tool supply company has been told to pay £27,000 for endangering workers after neglecting to maintain electrical systems and equipment.
Watford Magistrates’ Court heard that tools including power hammers and grinding machines, as well as fixed electrical systems, were so poorly maintained that they presented immediate and potentially fatal risks to employees.
The failings were identified by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) during an inspection in 2009 – the HSE served four Improvement Notices on the company, including one to improve management arrangements, over an 18 month period.
However, despite two extensions being granted to comply with the terms of the notices, subsequent investigations in 12 Nov 2010 and 7 April 2011 found there were still insufficient arrangements to properly manage risks.
The firm was fined a total of £24,000 and ordered to pay £3,000 in costs after admitting a breach of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 and for ignoring the management improvement notice.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Peter Burns said: "It is important that companies recognise and acknowledge the risks posed by poorly maintained electrical systems, which could ultimately result in death – as was the real danger here.
"The best way to ensure that these and other risks are controlled is to have effective management systems in place. Companies have a legal duty to protect the health and safety of their employees and other around them and this includes complying with improvement notices."
Hire Association Europe are the industry-leading trade association for the plant and tool hire industry. They produce a Code of Practice (CoP) guidance document to aid companies in ensuring they are testing and maintaining equipment effectively and safely within the hire industry. For further information please visit www.hae.org.uk.
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