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Advanced PAT technology provides all-round safety management at HMP Winchester

07 July 2016

Advanced portable appliance testing instrumentation is helping the facilities management team at HM Winchester Prison fulfil a range of essential health and safety responsibilities.

Following last year’s transfer of facilities management services at a number of prisons to Carillion, the FM team at Winchester is using a Seaward Apollo 600 tester to combine electrical testing with a range of other workplace safety tasks.

To meet its health and safety responsibilities, the in-house facilities management team at Winchester has established rigorous inspection and testing procedures to ensure that all prison equipment and systems remain safe for use by both staff and prisoners.

Importantly, as well as the safety of all electrical equipment and appliances used on the prison site, this includes the regular testing of water systems for Legionnaires disease, the condition of emergency lighting systems and fire alarm control panels.

To help the team meet its responsibilities, the focal point of the prison’s health and safety inspection and testing programme is the multi-purpose Apollo 600 tester, supported by the PATGuard 3 Elite software program.

Together, the specialist tester and comprehensive software provides an all-round health and safety management tool that combines appliance testing with a universal risk assessment capability, sophisticated data collection, and the ability to produce a wide range of reports, certificates and other safety documentation.

As part of the safe systems of work established in the prison, the Apollo is used to produce bar codes to identify all individual electrical appliances and other items of equipment included in the health and safety inspections.

This includes water tanks and emergency lighting system components, so that the correct data and records are stored automatically against each item as inspections are undertaken.

In addition, the instrument’s on board camera also enables images taken during visual inspections and risk assessments to be tagged against records to provide evidence of decisions taken and a traceable audit trail of all safety conditions.

Jeff Foster, FM services manager for Carillion at HMP Winchester, said: “With the huge variety of equipment and appliances in use in the prison, there is a considerable time saving in being able to identify items, carry out tests, record results and make any notes as part of a fully streamlined process.

“Having all non-electrical inspections alongside the results of traditional PAT tests, in the same system and in the same format, also means that reports and certificates can be produced quickly and easily.

“This all round capability enables us to manage our safety responsibilities very effectively, and is particularly helpful when inspections on different types of equipment are carried out by different teams such as electricians and plumbers.”

At HMP Winchester, the electrical team uses the battery powered Apollo 600 to carry out all of the electrical safety tests required by the IET Code of Practice on the many different appliances used in the prison’s workshop, office, kitchen, recreational and accommodation areas.

In total some 6,500 items are tested each year, with the weekly testing of all new equipment being supported by comprehensive annual inspections and testing of everything in use across the complete site.

As well as portable appliances, the electrical team also carries out emergency lighting system checks, with the plumbing team being responsible for Legionnaires testing on the water supply.

In both cases, the system checks and assessment records entered in the PATGuard 3 software enables the FM manager to log inspections and identify any issues arising that can be flagged up in reports to senior staff and heads of departments.

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