3 Duties under the law
3.1 Relevant Statutory Provisions
3.2.1 There are legal duties on manufacturers and suppliers covering the initial integrity (safety) of new electrical appliances. There are general duties, covering the use and maintenance of appliances, designed to ensure that they remain in a safe condition.
3.2.2 The particular legal duties relating to the use and maintenance of electrical appliances are contained in the Electricity at Work Regulations (1989). These apply to all work activities and place requirements on employers, self-employed and employees (duty holders), designed to control risks which can arise from the use of electricity. The Regulations require certain safety objectives to be achieved and do not prescribe the measures to be taken. This allows the duty holder to select precautions appropriate to the risk rather than have precautions imposed which may not be relevant to a particular work activity.
4 Responsible Parties
4.1.1 The Safety Committee is responsible for determining the University policy on Portable Electrical Appliance Inspection and Testing.
4.2.1 The Health & Safety Office is responsible for advising the Safety Committee and members of the University on the statutory requirements.
4.2.2 The Property Services, Electrical Engineer is responsible for advising the Safety Committee and members of the University on the arrangements for Portable Electrical Appliance Inspection and Testing.
4.2.3 The College / Service Safety Officer, is delegated by the College Dean / Head of Service, to advise upon the their arrangements for Portable Electrical Appliance Inspection and Testing.
4.3.1 The Registrar and Secretary has the ultimate responsibility to ensure that the University of Exeter complies with all statutory health and safety requirements. He may share this responsibility with :
4.3.2 College Deans / Heads of Services who are responsible for statutory compliance in their areas of responsibility, eg their College or Service.
They may delegate the implementation of the Departmental arrangements for Portable Electrical Appliance Inspection and Testing to the College or Service Safety Officer although they retain the responsibility for ensuring that Inspection and Testing is carried out and remedial action is taken where necessary. They may share this responsibility with:
4.3.3 Supervisors who are responsible for statutory compliance in their areas of responsibility, eg of technical staff, students.
4.3.4 All Staff have a duty to take reasonable care for the health and safety of themselves and others who may be affected by their work. They also have a duty to comply with the University's arrangements for health and safety.
4.3.5 Students, although not employees of the University, are offered the same health and safety protection as employees with respect to Portable Electrical Appliance Inspection and Testing and are similarly required to comply with its arrangements.
4.3.6 Persons carrying out Portable Electrical Appliance Inspection and Testing do so on behalf of the University and do not carry any personal liability for the results obtained. It is the College Dean / Head of Services’ responsibility to ensure the tests are satisfactorily carried out and any remedial action promptly taken.
5.1.1 Portable Electrical Appliances must be regularly inspected and tested by Competent Persons to ensure that they can continue to be used safely.
5.1.2 The planned inspection and testing will include:
- Visual Inspection for signs of damage or deterioration; and
- Electrical Tests, ie;
- an Earth Continuity test; and
- relevant Insulation tests.
5.1.3 The test results will be Recorded to allow for future comparison, for written identification of defects to be remedied and to provide information for an assessment of risk.
5.1.4 Each University College or Service will be responsible for making its own inspection and testing arrangements. Some will have the technical resources to carry out these arrangements. Those who do not are advised to contract the services of the Property Services’ Electrical Section or a reputable external electrical contractor.
5.1.5 Where Colleges / Services allow its staff to use their own appliances, eg kettles, coffee percolators, electric fans, they must be included in the inspection and testing arrangements. If they are found to fail in any way they must be removed from the premises and repaired at the owner's expense. The use of personal electric heaters is not permitted.
5.2.1 A Portable Electrical Appliance is, literally, any electrical equipment capable of being carried and, in general, connected to the mains supply by a flexible lead and a plug. The definition includes appliances with their own power sources, eg, "intrinsically safe" equipment used in potentially explosive environments and equipment designed to operate at 110 volts. The definition does not include equipment which is "hard" wired, eg, heavy equipment supplied by a fixed, armoured, power cables, which is tested using other regimes.
5.2.2 Class I appliances rely on earthing of the conductive case and one layer of insulation covering its live internal parts for protection against electric shock.
5.2.3 Class II appliances are "double insulated", ie they rely on two layers of insulation between live internal parts and the user for protection against electric shock.
5.2.4 Competent Person is a person who is employed or contracted by the University who has received suitable and sufficient training in Portable Electrical Appliance Inspection and Testing (see Section Training)
5.3 Schedule of Inspection and Testing
5.3.1 Visual Inspection: Since over 80% of electrical faults are discovered by visual inspection, this is the most important element of Inspection and Testing. The following schedule is recommended.
|Plug||Cracked casing, bent pins|
|Incorrectly rated fuse|
|Incorrectly connected wires|
|Loose cable clamp|
|Mains Lead||Cuts, fraying, brittle|
|Male connector (if fitted), non-standard (IEC 320, BS4491, CEE22)|
|Not secured by grommet/clamp on appliance|
|Appliance||Damage/faulty operation of off/on switch|
|Damage to casing|
|Evidence of overheating|
|Evidence of moisture|
|Missing double insulation mark on insulating casing (where appropriate)|
|Accessible fuse holders: damage or removal of carrier permits live part to be touched|
|Exposed output connections have marked voltage rating >50V|
5.3.2 Electrical Testing: A commercially available Portable Appliance Tester (PAT) is required for electrical testing of robust appliances. Some PATs have a facility for testing 110 V equipment. A PAT must not be used on sensitive electronic equipment such as computers, as permanent damage may be caused by the high test voltages and currents.
The following schedule is recommended, carried out in the order as written:
|Class I Appliances|
|Earth Continuity / Bonding Test||This test is for checking the earth lead continuity and earth connection (or bonding) to the metal casing of an appliance. A voltage is established between the appliance's mains supply earth pin and its case.|
There are usually two tests available:
(I) 4 A / 300 mW for light duty supply cables (up to 6 A); and
(II) 25 A / 300 mW for heavy duty supply cables.
The resistance between the earthed case and the earth pin on the mains plug must not be more than 300mW.
|Insulation test||This test checks the integrity of the appliance's insulation. For Class 1 appliances the test voltage is applied between the appliance's mains supply plug P (phase) and N (neutral) pins connected together, and the E (earth) pin which is held at earth potential. The insulation resistance must withstand a high voltage (500V dc / 2 MW) for five seconds.|
|Earth Leakage test||This test shows the level of leakage current in the appliance by monitoring the difference in currents flowing in the phase and neutral connections; any difference must be flowing to earth. This provides a useful way of predicting approach of appliance breakdown since the level of leakage current is a guide to the condition of insulation. Since many appliances are designed with earth leakage, this test is not mandatory; faults are indicated in the Insulation Test described above.|
|Flash test||This test shows the response of the insulation to ac voltage (indicating problems due to excessive capacitive current) and gives an early warning of insulation problems. There is normally a choice of two flash tests; low and high voltage. Since the high voltage test may stress the insulation and cause degradation, it is recommended that the low voltage flash test only is used.|
|Operation VA test(optional)||This test indicates that the appliance is in good working order and not drawing excessive current.|
Class II Appliances
Test as for Class I Appliances, except with the omission of the Earth Continuity / Bonding Test.
Sensitive Electronic Equipment
Earth Continuity / Bonding Test ONLY
Do NOT use a PAT device
Using a multimeter able to read to 300 mW, the resistance between the earth pin and exposed metal (not signal sockets) should be less than 300mW.
Three phase equipment
The inspection and testing of three phase equipment is a specialist task which must be carried out, either:
- under service contract; or
- by Buildings and Estates Division, Electrical Section.
5.4 Frequency of Inspection and Testing
5.4.1 There is no statutory frequency of inspection and testing. The frequency should reflect the risk of the appliance causing damage or injury. This increases with amount of appliance use and the harshness of its working environment. The following is recommended as a minimum standard:
5.4.2 Visual Inspection: On initial use and after moving the appliance and regularly during its lifetime.
5.4.3 Visual Inspection and Portable Appliance Testing
|Risk level||Examples||When to check|
|High risk||Heavy use / Outside use, eg tools and equiqment used outside or in a way such that their power leads may be subject to mechanical damage or will get wet||Every 6 Months|
|Medium risk||Frequently moved and used but used inside in dry, benign environments, eg hand held appliances, kettles, laboratory stirrers, heating mantles||Every 12 Months|
|Low risk||Infrequently moved but regularly used, eg desk lamps analytical instruments, vacuum pumps , heaters||Every 24 Months|
|Very low risk||Stationary equipment, normally double insulated, power leads have no likelihood of stress, mechanical damage (eg personal computers, power leads only||Every 5 years|
5.5 Recording of Inspection and Testing Results
5.5.1 When new electrical appliances are purchased it is a good idea to label them with a date of purchase. No PAT test is required initially but the date of the first PAT test, based on risk, can be easily determined from reading the label.
5.5.2 A dated test label indicating PASS or FAIL and its identification (eg Departmental inventory number) must be affixed to the appliance (and to the plug, if the lead is detachable).
5.5.3 The inspection and test results must be kept in written form; on record cards, sheets or in a book. Computers may aid record keeping.
5.5.4 School and Services should keep the results centrally, as the Enforcing Authorities (eg the Health and Safety Executive) may wish to inspect them.
5.6 Monitoring of Inspection and Testing Results
5.6.1 Colleges / Services should keep a summary of the results centrally, ie;
- number of appliances tested; and
- test result (pass or fail),
This will provide important information on the number and condition of appliances held. Use the Portable electrical appliances testing results form.
5.7 Remedial Action
5.7.1 If inspection and testing show the appliance is faulty, it is unsafe and it must be taken out of service until remedial action is taken.
5.7.2 Unless remedial action is immediate a "DO NOT USE" label must be attached to the appliance and plug.
5.8.1 Inspection and Testing must be carried out by Competent Persons ie staff who have received suitable and sufficient training.
5.8.2 The decision as to whether an individual is competent to undertake a particular task is left to the department. It is necessary to weigh up the job's skill content against the individual's attributes, taking into account his or her:
- electrical knowledge;
- electrical experience;
- understanding of the system/equipment to be worked on:
- understanding of the hazards which could arise; and
- the ability to recognise at any time whether it is safe to continue to work.
5.8.3 Both formal theoretical training and practical "on the job" training, using the test equipment, are normally necessary. The former can be arranged with a training provider (eg South West Electricity Board), by the Staff Development Unit, Streatham Court. The latter carried out within the Department under direct supervision of a Competent Person.
5.8.4 Where external electrical contractors are employed, University staff should request written evidence of their competence.