PAT Testing News Round-Up - Issue 19

This issue covers:

  • Revised PAT Guidance Will Require a New Approach
  • HSE Penalises Electrical Faults
  • HSE Reinforces Importance of Risk Assessment
  • PAT & Risk Assessment Explained At Special Training Courses
  • Safety Warning on Beko Tumble Dryers
  • Free Seminars Explain New IET Code of Practice

Revised PAT Guidance Will Require a New Approach

The renewed emphasis on a risk based approach to workplace electrical safety testing will undoubtedly pose a significant challenge for the PAT sector, says a leading test instrument manufacturer.

However, the Seaward Group also says that recently updated PAT advice creates major new opportunities for those PAT firms able to respond positively to the changes.

Jim Wallace, associate director of Seaward, says: “There is no doubt that the latest guidance on portable appliance testing will require a new approach to be taken by those involved in the industry.

“The clear message is that electrical equipment inspection and testing regimes should be based on a more focused and robust approach to assessing the safety risks posed by appliances.

“Those companies that can respond positively to the change in emphasis now have the opportunity to provide much more added value to their customers.

“This will mean moving away from a simple cost per test-driven service to the provision of more thorough support based on a more professional advisory, testing and record keeping service.

” The recently published fourth edition of the IET Code of Practice emphasises the importance of taking a proportionate response to ensuring that all workplace electrical systems are safe to use.

To do this it says that a structured approach to risk assessment should be adopted for the determination of inspection and testing intervals.

The new guidance has been developed in response to concerns that the implied legal requirement for maintaining the safety of electrical appliances was being applied too broadly, resulting in situations of costly over compliance, particularly in some of the more low risk working environments.

The changes have already led to some in the industry fearing for its future while others remain to be convinced that anything will change.

Jim Wallace says: “There is indisputable evidence that the periodic in-service testing of electrical equipment prevents injuries, saves lives and avoids workplace fires that would otherwise be devastating for those involved. This has not changed.

“In certain situations there has been a problem of an over-zealous approach to testing and over compliance with the regulations. The new emphasis on risk assessment is designed to overcome this, but also reaffirms that duty holders can accept advice from the person doing the inspection and testing.

“This is the opportunity for contractors. The key is having a proper understanding of risk assessment and being able to apply the same principle to other areas of workplace safety.

“If this new approach can be adopted, there is no reason why professional PAT firms should not continue to succeed.” More at


HSE Penalises Electrical Faults

A Suffolk plastics manufacturer has been fined after electrical fittings at its production site were found to be dangerous.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) uncovered serious issues with the construction and maintenance of the electrical systems at Techplas in Sudbury after investigating a separate unrelated issue.

HSE inspectors found live 400 volt cabling hanging off the wall, a broken socket with live 400 volt cabling coiled on the floor and fused spurs and electric switches hanging off single-core cabling, leaving the live 230 volt wiring inside exposed.

Guards had also been removed from a plastic forming machine, exposing heating elements that could become dangerous as soon as the machine was switched on.

HSE served three Prohibition Notices on the company ordering urgent improvements to be made. Magistrates were told the electrical systems posed a significant and immediate danger to workers.

After the hearing HSE inspector Saffron Turnell, said: "The state of the electrical systems at Techplas was simply appalling and it is only a matter of luck that nobody had been injured or electrocuted.

"Employers have a duty to ensure the workplace is a safe environment and this must include electrical installations, whether or not the work carried out at their premises directly involves electricity.” More at:


HSE Reinforces Importance of Risk Assessment

Given the importance of carrying out proper risk assessments in determining electrical equipment inspection and test intervals in the fourth edition of the IET Code of Practice, it was interesting to learn of an incident from another sector where a company has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failing to undertake a thorough risk assessment.

In December it was reported that the owner of a Norfolk aggregate site has been prosecuted for failing to complete a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for moving rail wagons without a locomotive.

During a site visit to the company the HSE identified that although a risk assessment had been completed, it was unclear and failed to address all the hazards associated with the activity. Sibelco Ltd, of Station Road, Leziate, was fined and ordered to pay costs after admitting breaching Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Steven Gill said: "This prosecution underlines the importance of companies suitably assessing and controlling risks associated with workplace transport - whatever form this takes.

"Although in this case a risk assessment had been carried out, it was not deemed to be suitable and sufficient." More details at


Special Training Courses to bring you up to speed with changes to PAT testing

A series of dedicated one day training courses will cover all of the Portable Appliance Testing and Risk Assessment implications of the new 4th Edition of the IEE Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment.

The special courses, hosted by electrical safety testing specialist Seaward, are designed to improve understanding of duty holder responsibilities under the Electricity At Work Regulations 1989 and ensure that those carrying out PAT testing are doing so to the upgraded coded of practice guidelines.

Risk assessment for PAT
The focus on a risk based approach to workplace electrical safety testing introduced by the new IEE Code of Practice puts a new emphasis on the roles of the dutyholder and the person performing the inspection and testing and in the determination of retest intervals.

This one day course is designed to help those involved develop a full and thorough understanding of the 5 step process of risk assessment advised by the Health & Safety Executive and its application to portable appliance testing.

Course content will include the risk assessment process and the factors involved, the requirements of different electrical equipment in different circumstances and practical exercises.

Dates and venues for the Risk Assessment for PAT training courses during February are:

5th February – Glasgow          7th February – Newcastle
12th February – Crawley          14th February - Basingstoke

PAT testing
The introductory Portable Appliance Testing course is designed to enable both electrical and non-electrical personnel to gain an understanding of the basic principles of PAT testing and provide practical, hands-on, experience of inspection and testing.

The course will equip delegates with sufficient technical knowledge to be able to carry out testing of electrical appliances and maintain comprehensive records in line with the industry advice and guidance.

The course content will include carrying out formal visual inspections, using the various electrical safety tests, identifying different faults, testing different types of equipment and understanding test intervals.

Dates and venues for the PAT training courses during February are:

1st February - Newcastle          26th February - Basingstoke

On completion, successful participants in the training courses will receive a certificate of completion issued by the Seaward.

New dates and venues are constantly being added for the months ahead.

Further details at: or call 0191 587 8744


Safety Warning on Beko Tumble Dryers

Appliance brand Beko has announced that several of its 6kg and 7kg condenser tumble dryers may be affected by a faulty third-party capacitor that could fail, overheat and pose a potential fire risk.

According to the manufacturer, the warning applies to around 51,000 appliances – 30,000 of which are in consumers’ homes – that were manufactured between May and October of last year.

As a precautionary measure Beko aims to replace the offending capacitors and has put in place a ‘voluntary corrective action programme’. It took out national and regional press advertising to make consumers aware of the problem and to get them to check their tumble dryers to see if they own any of the models affected.

Beko service engineers are also on call to visit consumers’ homes to modify any affected appliances, said Beko.

In the summer of 2011, Beko received unwanted attention when it was caught up in a fire safety scandal involving the London Fire Brigade, which warned of up to 500,000 potentially dangerous Beko fridge-freezers in the UK.


Free PAT Seminars Explore New IET Code of Practice

Seaward is hosting a series of free breakfast seminars on the new fourth edition of the IET Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment.

The seminar will explain the changes in the new Code and how it will affect those involved in PAT testing or with a responsibility to ensure a safe working environment. Topics to be covered will include a risk based-approach to testing, the implications for fixed appliances, what to do about hired equipment and what it means for landlords.

February’s seminar schedule is as below – and more dates will follow soon.

Tues 5th Feb 2013 - Exeter
Weds 6th Feb 2013 - Cardiff North
Tues 12th Feb 2013 - Banbury
Weds 13th Feb 2013 - Daventry
Tues 19th Feb 2013 - Birmingham (near to the NEC)
Weds 20th Feb 2013 - Peterborough (Norman Cross)
Tues 26th Feb 2013 - Chester South
Weds 27th Feb 2013 – Carlisle

Each seminar begins at 8.30am and free refreshments are provided.



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