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Periodic inspection

All non domestic electrical installations are required to undergo a regular program of inspection and testing to comply with the current legislation to ensure that all necessary precautions have been undertaken to reduce the risk of death or injury through electrical failure.

Some governing bodies and insurance companies in particular require inspection and testing to be undertaking periodically before they will issue you with insurance.

A Periodic Inspection is undertaken to check the condition of an existing electrical installation, to identify any deficiencies against the national safety standard for electrical installations.

The inspection will reveal if any of your electrical circuits or equipment is overloaded, find any potential electrical shock risks and fire hazards in your electrical installation, identify any defective DIY electrical work & highlight any lack of earthing or bonding

Tests are also carried out on wiring and associated fixed electrical equipment to check that it is safe. A schedule of circuits will also be provided.

The periodic inspection will take into account all relevant circumstances including the following factors:

•adequacy of earthing and bonding
•suitability of the switchgear and control gear
•Serviceability of equipment
•Type of wiring system and its condition
•provision of residual current devices
•presence of adequate identification and notices
•extent of any wear and tear, damage or other deterioration
•Changes in use of the premises which have led to, or might lead to, deficiencies in the installation.
The electrician will provide a periodic inspection report (PIR) as part of the inspection & if any part of the inspection is flagged up as unsatisfactory then observations and recommendations for actions to be taken will be written down on the report as code 1 to 4.

The codes are as follows: -

•Code 1 Requires urgent attention – dangerous condition that will require urgent attention.
•Code 2 Requires improvement
•Code 3 Requires further investigation
•Code 4 Does not comply with BS 7671
 
Code 4 does not mean that the installation is unsafe, it is just stating that it does not meet the current regulations that are in place, for instance if your circuits have the old red and black core colours instead of the new harmonised colours this we flagged up as a code 4.

The inspection and testing should be undertaken by a competent person who is qualified to city & guilds 2391 and works to the 17th Edition regulations.

Periodic inspections should be undertaken as following: -

 Commercial Installations – Every 5 years.
 Industrial Installations & External Installations – Every 3 years.
 Buildings open to the public, Caravan Parks & Fire Alarms – Every 1 year.
 Short Term Installations & Site Installations – 3 months.

Portable Appliance Testing

PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) is an inspection and electrical check of portable appliances within the workplace.

When people are working with electrical equipment it is required to undergo routine annual checks to ensure the safety of the item to reduce the risk of injury.

The Electricity at Work Regulations (1989) requires “All electrical systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any danger”. This is interpreted as covering the fixed electrical installation as well as portable and transportable equipment connected to it. The Regulations also state “It is the duty of every employer and self employed person to comply with the provision of these Regulations.”

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (EWR 1989) requires all systems including electrical appliances are maintained as far as reasonably practicable to prevent danger.

Initial intervals are recommended for electrical inspection and testing that range anywhere from 3 to 12 months dependent upon the risk they pose.

3 monthly inspection and testing would apply to equipment in a higher risk band such as construction equipment, where items such as computers would be at a lower risk and be required to be tested once every 12 month. Any public building must have the PAT testing undertaken annually and can be carried out in house by many organisations.

What is involved in a Portable Appliance Test?

Formal visual inspections

This is a process of simply inspecting the appliance, the cable and the plug for any obvious signs of damage. Most of the faults found when PAT testing will be picked up at this stage.

Combined inspections and PAT testing

The portable appliances are tested to measure the degree of protection to ensure that it is adequate. At these intervals, Note the inside of the plug MUST be checked unless it is moulded or there is an unbroken seal covering the screws (bad internal wiring or an unsuitable fuse would cause the item to be classed as dangerous).

Electrical appliances are differentiated by a series of IEC protection classes. In PAT Testing it is essential for the person PAT Testing to know the difference in classes and therefore what checks must be completed before declaring the item electrically safe.

•Class I – Single insulated wiring, which requires an earth connection. There is no symbol for a Class I product so if a rating plate has no symbol on it then it is usually Class I.
•Class II – Double insulated wiring, therefore no need for a earth lead. Class II is indicated by double box.
•Class III – These are appliances that are supplied at a low voltage (usually called Separated Extra Low Voltage) which must be less than 50V. These appliances are supplied with a transformer supply that is also marked.
•Class 0 – Non-earthed metal appliance with two core cable. Sales of these items have been banned since 1975.
•Class 01 – As Class 0 but appliance has an earth terminal which is unused since two core cable is used.
The tests that an individual must carry out to declare an item electrically safe is dependent on the class of construction (shown above). Some of these tests are:

•Earth Continuity
•Insulation Resistance
•Polarity of Wiring
 

Once all of the tests are complete the tested item will then have a sticker placed onto the plug to notify the user that it is either safe to use or not, and show the due date of the next test if safe.

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