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‘Common sense’ approach to health and safety could save £120 million

06 December 2012

Figures released by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) show that businesses are wasting millions of pounds each year by over-maintaining electrical appliances with unnecessary annual tests. By adopting a common sense approach, the IET estimates that businesses could save over £30 million annually and £120 million over the next four years.

Geoff Cronshaw, Chief Electrical Engineer at the IET

The research highlights the millions of pounds that are being are being needlessly spent because of the misunderstanding that “Portable Appliance Testing” (PAT) should be undertaken every year, a misnomer often perpetuated by external contractors providing PAT services. In fact, testing annually has never been a legal requirement and it is not the case that insurers require policyholders to undertake testing every year, particularly in low-risk business environments such as offices, shops and hotels.

To help businesses to understand their PAT obligations and to prevent unnecessary electrical appliance maintenance, the IET has published the fourth edition of the Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment. The new publication will enable individuals with responsibility for electrical equipment, including building mangers, office managers and health and safety inspectors, to make more informed decisions on the level of inspection and testing required. The proportionate risk-based approach which the Code of Practice advises, takes into consideration the usage, type and environment of the equipment under question.

Geoff Cronshaw, Chief Electrical Engineer at the IET, said: “Misunderstandings around inspection and testing of electrical equipment have led to low-risk businesses paying unnecessarily for over-the-top maintenance regimes. The Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment, fourth edition, incorporates major changes reflecting Professor Löfstedt’s report and the Health and Safety Executive’s view that promotes a proportionate risk-based approach when assessing the safety of electrical equipment and appliances, potentially saving businesses millions of pounds.”

Peter Brown, Head of the Work Environment, Radiation and Gas Division of the Health and Safety Executive, said: “We welcome the publication of the Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment, fourth edition, which will help to promote a balanced risk-based approach to determine how frequently equipment should be maintained, reducing the likelihood of businesses wasting money on unnecessary testing.”

The Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment, fourth edition, has been developed by the IET alongside industry stakeholders including the Health and Safety Executive. It reflects the recommendations contained in the Löfstedt Report (published in November 2011).

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