For the purpose of the legislation. A portable appliance is taken to be an item of equipment which is not part of a fixed installation but is, or is intended to be, connected to a fixed installation, or a generator, by means of a flexible cable and a plug and socket.
In layman’s terms this means any item with a plug is a portable appliance. This would include electric drills, kettles, PCs, printers, monitors, extension leads and even some large items such as vending machines and fridges or freezers.
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 placed a legal responsibility on, employers, self-employed and landlords etc to take reasonable steps to ensure that no danger results from the use of electrical equipment. The most efficient way to achieve this is to have appliances at your place of work inspected and tested.
There is no specific schedule set out. There are however guidelines to help. The frequency of testing depends on the type of equipment and the environment in which it is used. For example a high-risk item such as an electric drill should be tested more frequently than a low risk item such as a PC. Furthermore a drill that is used every day in a high density manufacturing plant should be tested more frequently than a drill used only occasionally in an office environment. Essentially it is the responsibility of the employers to assess the risk involved and implement their own program of testing. Most companies still opt for the blanket test of all equipment on an annual basis to ensure conformity.
No, the legislation states that the person testing the item must be a competent person. In our opinion the only safe way to prove this in law is for the person to have completed the proper training and passed an examination enabling a certificate of competence to be issued.
This type of testing can be executed either during or outside of normal working hours. However out of hours work will attract extra costs.
Yes, in order to electrically test the equipment it needs to be disconnected from the mains and plugged into a testing device. This is how the electrical readings are obtained and a PASS or FAIL status is defined.
This depends on the type and class of the appliance. All appliances must be subjected to a good visual inspection and at least an insulation or leakage test. Others require an earth bond test and polarity test as well.
The test equipment and procedures that we use on IT equipment ensures no damage can be done to the equipment during the test process. However the equipment must be shut down before full testing.
In some environments where it is not possible to turn equipment on and off, such as computer suites or comms rooms, it may only be appropriate for a visual inspection to be carried out. If this is the case then every effort must be made to carry out a combined inspection and test at the next available times.
This will obviously depend on the number of appliances within your building and how easily assessable they are. A normal workstation with a computer, printer and extension lead would typically take between 20 and 30 minutes to test and reconnect. If you have any specific timetables to work to please liase with the engineer as to the most suitable times.
All appliances that are tested should be given a unique form of identification. This will normally be in the form of a PASS or FAIL label indicating an asset number, the date and the initials of the test engineer.
Once again, the guidelines are sketchy as to the necessity of testing records. It should be viewed as best practise to adopt a register of all-portable appliance testing. In this way we are able to demonstrate that we have safely maintained the equipment. We will comply an equipment resister for you as well as an appropriate certificate/report for all appliances tested.
Most failures are found during the initial visual check (i.e. a cracked plug or an incorrectly rated fuse) These minor repairs will be carried out during the course of the work however other failures may not be fixed quickly and we would take the appliance out of service to eliminate danger to yourself or your employees.