How frequently should I PAT test my appliances?

Employers, landlords and people that are self-employed are required to run PAT testing on portable appliances. There isn’t a rule on the frequency of PAT testing which the Health & Safety Executive has set out, the main reason for this is that different situations require different measures.

It is up to each individual to determine and asses when the testing should be carried out to keep their workforce, tenants and themselves safe.

You should bear in mind a few different factors when determining how often you should have your appliances tested:

  • Stationary equipment is less likely to get damaged than hand help types of appliances therefore the type is a factor to consider to determine the frequency. Class I appliances have a greater risk over Class II.
  • How often the appliances are used. This may be common sense but appliances that are used more should be test more often. Appliances that aren’t used so often will obviously incur less damage and have a lower risk.
  • If appliances aren’t properly maintained / serviced, then PAT testing should be more frequent. Problems could go unnoticed which could cause a potential risk to somebody.
  • The location of the equipment is also an important factor to consider. Is it outdoors, construction sites, hazardous atmospheres etc.)
  • If the equipment is on hire, then PAT testing frequency should be increased to make sure it is safe to run.
  • Manufacturers guidelines & recommendations.
  • If there have been any equipment modification or repairs since the last PAT test.

 

 

The Health and Safety Executive suggest the following intervals for checking portable electrical equipment:

  • Desktop computers, VDU screen every 2-4 years.
  • Photocopiers and fax machines, not hand held and rarely moved 2-4 years.
  • Double insulated Class II equipment, not hand-held and moved occasionally like fans table lamps 2-4 years.
  • Double insulated Class II equipment, hand-held like floor cleaners, kitchen equipment 6 months – 1 year.
  • Earthed equipment Class I like electric kettles, irons 6 months – 1 year.
  • Cables (leads and plugs connected to the above) and mains voltage extension leads and battery charging equipment. 6 months – 4 years depending on the equipment being used.

If you have a question or a concern about a PAT for your appliances, please call 01543 225306, or fill out one of our contact forms to arrange a free assessment of your premises, with one of our fully trained electrical engineers.

Useful references:

The Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) publish guidance for the maintenance of portable appliances

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) provide useful guidance on Portable Appliance Testing

IET Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment Chapter 15.8

Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 Regulation 5
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, Regulation 4(2)

When should you call an electrical engineer?

It is absolutely critical that your business stays up-to-date with electrical testing. Whether that is fixed wire or portable appliance testing (PAT testing) it is important to make sure you are compliant to protect your employees from electrical fires and to eliminate any opportunity of criminal negligence should the worst happen.

A periodic inspection of the wiring for your business premises reduces the risk of electrical fires and makes sure everything is running as it should be. You should arrange periodic inspections by calling us at Veriserv as we have electrical engineers available every day to assist with this matter. But when else should you call?

  • If there is anything unusual with the electricity

Electricity is of course dangerous and invisible and as a result it is easy for wiring flaws to be missed until a safety hazard occurs such as an electrical fire, sparks from a unit, or a power cut. If you can see lights flickering or dim and brighten or if you have breakers that trip regularly or if you see sparks from a unit you should immediately call an electrical engineer to inspect the issue.

If you see an electrical item has discoloured or is hot to the touch this should also raise suspicion.

  • A burning smell

Whenever you smell burning you should immediately unplug any appliance in the vicinity and call an electrical engineer immediately. Burning smells don’t just have to come from portable appliances but can be an indicator that your building wiring is faulty too.

  • Electricity outlets

We are constantly seeing issues arising with extension leads in businesses. When businesses employee more people, inevitably the power that is required increases and as a result the reliance on extension cables goes up if there aren’t enough wall sockets. Extension leads can put a lot of load on a building’s wiring if they are overused and they can even catch on fire. Call us at Veriserv so we can avoid such incidences from happening and to protect your workforce.

You should call an electrical engineer whenever you feel there is an issue no matter how small you think it is. There can often be many underlying issues when not running suitable diagnostic checks by an engineer and they can quickly turn dangerous.

If you have some concerns about your premises, please call 01543 225306, or fill out one of our contact forms to arrange a free assessment of your premises, with one of our fully trained electrical engineers.

Does your CCTV need a service?

It is crucial that CCTV systems are well maintained to protect employees, customers and anyone else entering a building or premises. CCTV acts as a safeguarding from factors such as break-ins, robbery and to help identify a fire before it is too late. The fact that they are such a worthy component for security and health and safety must showcase the importance of regular maintenance and servicing.

Both external and internal CCTV cameras should be serviced regularly, at least once a year to perform to their full potential and to make sure there aren’t any issues that have been undetected by the operator.

The Ingress Protection (IP) rating of a CCTV camera is designed by the manufacturer to keep water out and to keep it functioning through harsh weather. If a camera is not appropriately serviced and maintained the rubber seals and glands can disintegrate. As a result, water can enter the camera housing and potentially take out the power supply unit (PSU) which supplies all of the other cameras on a site. This in turn would lead to a complete CCTV failure for that premises.

To have a complete CCTV failure opens the doors to huge threat in terms of security and safety. Maintaining and servicing your CCTV system should be a top priority just like your fire alarm system is for fire safety. No business should have to experience a full CCTV failure and with a simple periodic service you can be rest assured that your system will perform to its full potential.

Our Veriserv engineers are very experienced in all aspects of CCTV, whether you have an office complex, or an industrial factory we can advise and help maintain your system.

During a periodic service, we shall advise you where any possible future failure may occur, and recommend any remedial works to ensure that your CCTV meets your needs.

Our mission is to provide every single customer with an outstanding service that is fit for purpose and delivered by experts to reduce risk

If you know you are due a service, or have some concerns about your premises, please call 01543 225306, or fill out one of our contact forms to arrange a free assessment of your premises, with one of our fully trained engineers.

How often should fixed wire testing be conducted?

The vast majority of workplaces require an Electrical Installation Condition Report at the very least every 5 years for commercial properties and 3 years for industrial.

The Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) produced guidance note 3 which incorporates the 18th edition IET wiring regulations to BS 7671. It is section 3 of this guidance which covers Electrical Periodic Inspection and Testing.

Veriserv are the experts in fixed wire inspection and testing and we can survey your premises, examine previous reports, look at your maintenance regime and recommend the correct frequency of tests to make sure your business is safe and compliant. Business electrical units should be correctly maintained to stay compliant.

As an example the following places of work require a full 5-year Electrical Installation Condition Report.

  • Hotels / restaurants
  • Education sector – Schools, Colleges, Universities / Hall of Residence
  • Care homes
  • Hospitals
  • Commercial buildings such as offices / retail
  • Science laboratories

There are places of work however which require an Electrical Installation Condition Report every 1 to 3 years with more frequent inspections being carried out.  This is the cases where areas are exposed to high temperatures, moisture and dust.

As an example the following places of work all require fixed wire testing every 1 to 3 years:

  • Swimming pools / sauna / leisure centres
  • Theatres and places of entertainment.
  • Medical locations in hospitals
  • Caravan parks
  • Fish farms
  • Laundrettes
  • Petrol stations
  • Caravans
  • Spa Hotels

If you are unsure about your fixed wire inspection and testing and when it should next be carried out within your business, simply fill out our contact form to book your free assessment, or call 01543 225306 to speak to a member of our team.

How can I reduce the risk of theft and protect my staff from intruders?

The risk of a break in is always a concern for any business owner and how to reduce the risk of theft should be question that is always being asked. It isn’t until it’s too late when a lot of businesses realise the real costs associated with a break-in from assets stolen to physical property damage.

Most people automatically think of intruder security alarms when they think of ways to reduce the risk. Veriserv provide high-quality monitored security alarms to any business in any sector/industry. They are one of the most successful visual deterrents for burglars helping you to reduce the risk of theft.

Our alarms are connected to a 24/7 NSI approved monitoring centre. This means that you can enjoy the peace of mind that your business is always protected no matter what time of day it is 365 days a year.

All of the security systems that we fit come with a back-up battery which will automatically power the unit should the event of a power failure occur. It is important to periodically check the batteries are operating and change them regularly to maintain full operation.

We offer state of the art key holder response and Police response monitoring packages which means the emergency services can be immediately notified in the event of an alarm activation be it from an intruder or fire.

We offer maintenance for your security installation and a 24/7 callout for all of our contract customers.

Contact to us today for a free no obligation security assessment to protect your business and staff. Stay safe, compliant and risk free. Simply fill out our contact form to book your free assessment, or call 01543 225306 to speak to a member of our team.

Are you prepared should a fire break out?

Keeping your staff and customers safe will always be of paramount importance for any business and the risk of fire is one of real concern.

Our fire safety products and services offer the very best fire prevention and protection, giving you the peace of mind should there ever be a need for them.

We understand that protecting your business from the threat of fire is a huge concern and this can be achieved with 24/7 monitoring of single or multi-site locations through an NSI Fire Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC). We can protect your assets as well as your staff and customers to the highest degree.

Veriserv are an NSI certificated company which signifies that we are compliant with BAFE (British Approvals for Fire Equipment). We have an exceptional standard of workmanship and are a one-stop shop for all fire & security needs.

We will provide you with a ‘value for money’ fire alarm solution which is installed to the highest of standards.

Whether you are a small, large, a single or multiple site business we have the fire detection systems for your needs.

We:

  • Design to BAFE Standards
  • Carry out a technical survey and install your fire detection system
  • Commission and handover the system to you in a professional manner
  • Maintain all fire detection systems – not just those that we have installed

Not maintaining fire systems correctly could put yourself at risk as well as your employees and customers. Once we have handed over a fire system to you we will always offer a fire system maintenance agreement. This will provide you with total peace of mind by ensuring full compliance to current regulations.

We understand that both end users and building contractors want to work with businesses that they can fully trust. Veriserv always complete projects on time and within the agreed budgets set out by our clients.

Whether you require a new fire detection system installation or just need a product to be maintained correctly to stay compliant simply fill out our contact form to book your free assessment, or call 01543 225306 to speak to a member of our team.

Is Fixed Wire Inspection & Testing in the UK a Legal Requirement?

The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 is an act of statutory legislation which places responsibility on employers in the UK to ensure, so far as is practicable, the health and welfare for everyone at the workplace which includes employees, members of the public, visitors and contractors.

Within the Health & Safety at Work Act there are areas which cover legal requirements for specific areas and this is where Fixed Wire Inspection & Testing comes in. The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 cover all electrical systems within all occupied spaces.

Best practice guidance for complying with the regulations have been published by bodies other than the Health & Safety Executive. For this case Fixed Wiring Inspection & Testing includes:

  • British Standard BS7671 – Requirements for Electrical Installations, IET Wiring Regulations
  • IET Inspection & Testing Guidance Note 3
  • HSE Electricity at Work – Safe working Practices
  • HSE memorandum of guidance on the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

The latest version of the regulations, which were first published in 2018, are known in the industry as the 18th Edition Wiring Regulations, which came into effect on 1st January 2019. All electrical installations following this regulation must be installed / maintained following BS 7671:2018. The purpose of the regulation is to prevent death or personal injury to any person from electrical causes in connection with work activities. Failure to comply to BS 7671:2018 obviously means an employer could be potentially exposed to legal action should an incident occur.

 

 

An employer or duty holder can demonstrate compliance with the regulations in respect to their electrical installation in the form of an up to date Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) which has been checked and completed by a qualified electrical engineer. Today, many insurers wish to see evidence of a company being compliant and this can be easily carried out by reading the EICR report.

Make sure you are compliant with your electrical installations and employ Veriserv as your contractor for all your electrical fixed wire inspection and testing.

If you require fixed wire testing, or any electrical testing within your business, simply fill out our contact form to book your free assessment, or call 01543 225306 to speak to a member of our team.

Protect your Staff and Property from Electrical Fires

Protect your Staff and Property from Electrical Fires. As an owner of property used for business it’s likely you have thought about the risks of fire and what preventative measures should be employed, but have you thought about how to protect your staff and property from electrical fires ?

The risk of fire caused by an electrical fault can be hidden from normal view and less obvious to detect for someone who has responsibility for the safety of persons  in a non domestic situation. This is one reason why it is important to have your electrical systems inspected and tested by a competent person and in accordance with BS 7671. Below are three examples of where overheating, with the potential to cause fire, have occurred. All three examples were found by a Veriserv engineer whilst carrying out inspection and testing prior to delivering an Electrical Installation Condition Report to our customer.

This first example is an electrical wall socket that had been overheating. It did become obvious as a fire actually started and was thankfully spotted and extinguished before it spread. It was then left in a live condition before being picked up during the electrical inspection and testing by Veriserv.

The Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) produce Electrical Inspection & Testing Guidance Note 3 to BS7671. Section 2.5.2g states that fire barriers, suitable seals and/or protection against thermal effects should be provided if necessary to meet the requirements of BS 7671 to minimise the spread of fire.

In this example a live electrical cable has been touching the moving mechanical parts of an isolator switch and has rubbed through the insulation causing overheating and the risk of electric shock. This was found by Veriserv during a visual inspection of the isolator.  IET Guidance note 3 2.5.1c states that cables and cable management systems should be designed and installed taking into account the mechanical stresses that users of the installation will make upon the installation.

In this example a cable connection within the electrical distribution board had become loose and overheated. As this is a relatively modern board manufactured using fire resistant material, and the overheated parts are contained within a closed compartment, this fault it is unlikely to cause fire to spread.  Older equipment however may be higher risk as more susceptible to combustion or the spread of electrical fires.

Make sure you employ a qualified electrical engineer to periodically inspect your electrical installation. For more information or to make an enquiry please contact Veriserv Limited.

Risk of electric shock through poor socket selection

Risk of electric shock through poor socket selection, in this example standard plastic electrical socket outlets have been fitted in an office floor

It seems quite obvious that if an electrical socket is to be fitted into the floor, it would need to be of a type that has been designed to withstand weight or impact, however someone has ignored this criteria, or has not considered the environment.

A standard plastic electrical socket outlet is designed to be mounted into a wall and would not be suitable to floor mount. The sockets in this photo would easily be broken by; the steel chair leg where the leg could become live through direct contact with the live electrical conductors.

This example was identified by a Veriserv engineer whilst carrying out an electrical fixed wiring inspection and test. The engineer would isolate the sockets and complete an “immediate report” to notify Veriserv’s customer.

The sockets should be of the type that are enclosed in a protection enclosure suitable for use on an office floor. This type of socket would normally have a lid to stop ingress of liquids should they get spilt.

Electrical equipment that is intended for use in the workplace must satisfy the safety requirements of  the  Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994  and  must  provide  a  safe connection to the mains electrical supply.

The Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) publish BS7671, IET wiring regulations seventeenth edition. Section 522.6.2 states that wiring systems shall be selected and erected so as to minimise damage arising from mechanical stress or impact during use or maintenance.

Veriserv would be happy to advise on any electrical compliance matter, or provide you with a quotation to carry out an Electrical Fixed wiring inspection and test of your premises.

Please contact us on 01543 225306 or complete our on line enquiries form.

 

Has your Fire Alarm Battery been tested

Has your fire alarm battery been tested recently ? All fire alarms systems have some sort of backup power to maintain alarm functionality if for any reason the mains power fails. For most systems this reserve power would be provided by a backup battery.

For all fire alarm systems it is imperative that the backup battery is tested during routine maintenance.

The battery shown below was removed from a customers fire alarm system by a Veriserv engineer during periodic maintenance of the system.

There are various faults that can effect batteries however this fault is clearly visible in the form of swelling and distortion. This battery has become swollen as a result of overcharging which has been caused by a faulty voltage regulator within the fire alarm panel and excessive current has flowed into the battery after the battery has reached full charge. The constant current will cause decomposition of the electrolyte within the battery and lead to premature aging. At high rates of overcharge a battery will progressively heat up and as it gets hotter it will accept more current, heating up even further. This is called thermal runaway and it can destroy a battery in as little as a few hours.

A Veriserv engineer replaced this battery and repaired the faulty panel to prevent the new battery suffering the same fate.

Operators and owners of non domestic premises have a duty under the Health & Safety at work Act 1974 to provide a safe place of work. In practice this means that all non domestic premises should have a working fire alarm system which is being properly maintained. Veriserv can provide design and installation services together with a suitable on going maintenance regime.

British Standard BS5839 sets out the code of practice for design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of systems in non domestic premises. Section 25.4 states that the following recommendations are applicable: a) The standby supply should comprise of a secondary (rechargeable) battery with an automatic charger, b) The battery should be of the type having a life of at least four years under the conditions of use likely to be experienced in the fire detection and fire alarm system.

A Veriserv engineer would check the age of the battery and carefully calculate the specification of a replacement where necessary.

Veriserv are accredited to NSI Gold standard and can provide guidance if you are un sure of your duties or need some reassurance as to the condition of your fire alarm system. We can also carry out a mandatory Fire Risk Assessment for your premises to make sure any potential fire hazards are identified and addresses.

For more information please contact us on 01543 225306 or complete our on line form.

Other sources of information;

Fire Industries Association (FIA)

National Security Inspectorate (NSI)

British Approvals for Fire Equipment (BAFE)

Health & Safety Executive (HSE)