The aim of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 is to prevent death or personal injury to any person from electrical causes in connection with work activities.
The regulations dictate that all portable equipment must be inspected regularly and tested to ensure that it is safe for use.
'Portable equipment' means any electrical item that can be moved, which means that this regulation covers items from computer systems and printers to kettles and televisions.
This is often referred to as portable appliance testing (PAT). There are three parts to the testing: visual inspection, earth continuity test, insulation test
The testing should be carried out regularly (commonly every 12 months) and should be carried out by trained, authorised personnel. In many cases third-party electrical contractors carry out PAT testing.
The visual inspection looks at damage to the cable, damage to the plug, damage to the case, loose components and also that the environment the device is used in is appropriate. The visual inspection also examines the plug for wiring or fuse problems such as an incorrect fuse or loose connections.
The earth continuity test checks for earth continuity between the plug and the appropriate parts of the device.
The insulation test checks the cable for weaknesses and unseen faults. In most workplaces you will see evidence of the testing through a small sticker placed on the device detailing, among other things, the date of inspection and details of who carried out the test.
Exemption certificates30.—(1) Subject to paragraph (2), the Health and Safety Executive may, by a certificate in writing, exempt–(a)any person;(b)any premises;(c)any electrical equipment;(d)any electrical system;(e)any electrical process;(f)any activity, or any class of the above, from any requirement or prohibition imposed by these Regulations and any such exemption may be granted subject to conditions and to a limit of time and may be revoked by a certificate in writing at any time.(2)
The Executive shall not grant any such exemption unless, having regard to the circumstances of the case, and in particular to–(a)the conditions, if any, which it proposes to attach to the exemption; and(b)any other requirements imposed by or under any enactment which apply to the case, it is satisfied that the health and safety of persons who are likely to be affected by the exemption will not be prejudiced in consequence of it.
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