The latest portable appliance testing technology is helping a forward thinking school ensure that the highest safety standards are maintained for pupils and staff at all times.
The Thomas Hardye School in Dorchester, Dorset prides itself on its educational reputation and the provision of high calibre learning facilities for 2,300 pupils.
Designated as a Science College, and with 300 staff, the school estimates that it has over 5,000 appliances and items of electrical equipment in use every day in its various classrooms, IT suites, technology laboratories and administration areas.
A dedicated health and safety officer has responsibility for electrical safety throughout all school buildings and has established rigorous inspection and testing procedures to ensure that all equipment remains safe for use.
The focal point of the school's portable appliance testing policy is a Seaward Apollo 600 tester. This multi-purpose PAT tester combines electrical testing with sophisticated safety data collection features, including an onboard digital camera, to help those involved in maintaining safety in the workplace to demonstrate compliance with all the latest guidance on inspection and testing programmes.
At the Thomas Hardye School, formal PAT testing on most equipment is undertaken on a two year cycle, with those electrical items subject to more demanding and heavier use, such as some science and technology apparatus, being tested annually.
The work is undertaken by the health and safety officer himself – usually during the school’s half term holidays – and all test results are retained in a PC-based record keeping system used as a management tool for planning the school’s inspection and testing programme in advance.
Importantly, the school also uses special features of the Apollo 600 and its complementary PATGuard 3 software program, to monitor other health and safety conditions across its premises.
For example, the instrument’s integral digital camera is used take high quality images of equipment at the same time as user checks or inspections are carried out to demonstrate the evidence and reasoning behind health and safety judgements taken at a particular time.
Similarly, the emergency lighting and fire alarm system checks and assessments included in the PATGuard 3 software enable the school to log inspections and any issues arising that can be flagged up in reports to staff and heads of departments.
Kieran Williams, health and safety officer at the Thomas Hardye School said: “In a school with so much electrical equipment, the ability to carry out inspection and testing in an effective and efficient manner is crucial and can make such a difference to our workload.
“We follow all the HSE and IET advice on portable appliance testing and the capabilities of the Apollo 600 help us to meet our obligations to providing a safe environment for pupils and staff, not only for electrical testing, but for other important health and safety issues where the risk assessment approach is proving particularly useful.”