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Promotion of the Electrical Safety Register Steps up

ECA reported recently that the campaign to promote the Electrical Safety Register has now reached more than 32 million people after there was coverage on national TV, radio and newspapers.

The register was created in combination with the Electrical Safety Council and the Electrical Contractors Association and has more than 36,000 ELECSA, NICIEIC and ECA registered members.

As part of the campaign to promote the register and encourage homeowners to use it, ESC’s Director General, Phil Buckle, and the spokesman for the register, Tony Cable, both appeared on BBC Breakfast television. They discussed electrical safety in the home and concentrated on the potential dangers associated with people carrying out electrical work themselves and encouraged the use of registered electricians from the register.

In addition, as part of the campaign, a host of radio interviews on many local radio stations throughout the UK took place which tried to make people aware of the register’s existence and encouraged them to visit the website.

Part of the promise given to electricians on the register was that it would be promoted by ESC and ECA and following on from the promotion they have already carried out, further promotion to householders and UK citizens will take place to encourage them to use the service.

Both ECA and ESC fully believe that the register is a huge step forward in ensuring that only registered electricians carry out electrical work. It also promotes and encourages the public’s understanding of what these brands are and what they mean.

For information on the register and how to get your name on it, visit the electrical safety register website for details.

Encourage Business Clients to Avoid Overloading

It’s important that businesses are aware of socket overloading and they understand the consequences of overloading extension leads and sockets with appliances.

To encourage them to think carefully and be safe, give them our top tips on avoiding socket overloading.

Encourage them to check the current rating of extension leads before plugging in appliances. Most are rated at 13A however some are rated at 10A or less. It is vital that they look carefully. Encourage them to check the underside of the extension lead to find the rating mark.

Advise them against overloading extension leads by plugging appliances in together which will exceed the maximum current rating for that extension lead. Ensure they understand that doing so could cause overheating and fire.

Ensure they understand that plugging extension leads into one another poses a great risk of overloading the wall socket. Encourage them to only use one extension lead per socket.

Help them to understand that using a multi-way bar extension lead rather than a block adaptor is a much better choice as it puts less strain on the wall socket.

Encourage them to watch out for any signs of a hot smelling plastic or burning near an appliance or socket, sparks or smoke coming from an appliance, blackness or scorch marks, damaged or frayed leads, wire insides of the lead showing, melted plastic on the appliance, fuses that blow or circuit breakers that operate for no reason.

If all businesses are diligent with their safety and regular checks, alongside their regular PAT testing procedures, they should be able to comfortably continue their daily business without an increased risk of damage or fire.

All About Fuses

A fuse is there to break the circuit if a fault develops in an appliance which has caused too much current flow.

The fuse itself contains a piece of wire which can easily melt. If the current flowing through the fuse is too great, the wire will heat up until it melts, thus breaking the circuit.

Fuses in UK plugs are generally fitted with either a 3A or 13A fuse. Any appliance up to 700w will require a 3A fuse to be fitted. Whilst any appliance which is over 700w will need a 13A fuse to be fitted.

Although manufacturers have now standardised plug fuse ratings to be either 3A or 13A, it is still possible to find a 5A fuse in some older appliances and can still be bought.

Some loads use a 5A fuse rather than the normal 3A. For instance, in the case of a 500w halogen floodlight a 5A fuse could be used even though a 3A fuse would carry normal operating current. This is due to the large current the halogen light will draw as the cold resistance is lower than the resistance at operating temperature.

In the case of other appliances it is usual to find either a 3A or 13A fuse fitted to each one. Here are some examples of equipment which would typically use each type:

3A Fuse

  • Table lamp
  • Television
  • Computer
  • Mixer
  • Fridge
  • Power Drill

13A fuse

  • Washing Machine
  • Dishwasher
  • Microwave
  • Kettle
  • Toaster
  • Iron



Tests Show Kitchen Appliance Failure

ESC’s continuing research into electrical risks posed by faulty appliances revealed the need to look at the safety of kitchen equipment with product standards.

This particular category is regularly notified as being unsafe by RAPEX and most worryingly is the products aimed at children.

The European Safety Standards for toasters and portable cooking appliances has been amended twice in the last few years in an attempt to reduce the surface temperate of appliances so that children from eight years old will be able to use these appliances safely.

As part of this ongoing concern, ESC decided to commission an independent laboratory test to inspect eleven products at random.

Products selected were from particular categories commonly found in domestic kitchens.

The range of products chosen for the test included the following:

  • Toasters -3
  • Halogen Oven – 1
  • Mini Oven – 1
  • Microwave Oven – 1
  • Popcorn Maker – 1
  • Rice Cooker – 1
  • Deep Fat Fryer – 1
  • Induction Cooker – 1
  • Portable Washing Machine – 1

Once tests were completed, the results revealed that shockingly only one of the eleven products tested actually passed with no departures or observations being made.

More than half didn’t meet the required product standards, which is extremely worrying and highlights the need for manufacturers to ensure that their products meet relevant regulations.

As a randomly bought group of products, almost all should have easily passed these tests. The fact that they have not done so is a considerable problem that should be addressed.

Third Product Safety Conference Announced

The Electrical Safety Council is in the process of getting ready for the third Product Safety Conference in London on the 16th May this year.

The Conference will be held at Church House in London and is set to be an interesting day. With speakers such as Malcolm Harbour, CBE, MEP and Chairman of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, opening the proceedings to emphasise how important product safety actually is, the day should be a huge success and will allow both consumers and professionals to discuss important factors and ideas.

Some of the key issues to be tackled on the day include discussing design issues and improvements that could be made with procedures like recall processes and the traceability of products. Also, there will be discussions on the best ways to teach consumers about safe buying, the safe use of appliances in the home, and how to ensure they take electrical safety seriously.

The list of speakers attending and discussing issues has not been finalised yet, however there are a few who have confirmed already and these include; Dyson, British Retail Consortium, Recalls UK, Bosch and AMDEA. There are sure to be some other well known brands speaking at the conference not included on this list and should make for an informative day.

If you are interested in learning more and getting involved with electrical product safety and would like to attend the conference, contact to book your place today. 

Hire Equipment to Have PAT Tests

The Hire Association Europe (HAE) has announced a code of practice for the maintenance and safety of hire equipment.

Alongside HSE, IET, electrical test equipment suppliers and member companies, the Association has produced guidelines for the safe testing of electrical equipment for hire.

Now an industry standard best practice guide is available, it should help companies to ensure that any equipment they hire out, or hire in, is in good working order.

However, the guidance also confirms the legal duty that companies have to ensure that equipment being hired out has had routine electrical safety tests carried out and is safe for use.

So although there are a lot of changes taking place in the PAT industry and in the way testing is carried out, the requirement of companies to test hire equipment is a good thing for both testers and those who hire in electrical equipment.

The changes to the industry do not spell the end of PAT, but merely the updating and adapting of the industry. Those PAT testers who adapt to the changes and embrace them will surely continue to have a lucrative career. 

A New Marriage Trading Standards and ESC

ESC and Trading Standards have been working together to continue to reduce the increasing number of fake electrical goods finding their way into the UK consumer market. Together the two have been working on a range of ventures to combat this growing problem.

During the course of this campaign they have found that the vast number of dangerous chargers being pushed into the UK market is a considerable concern as these items are at great risk of causing electric shock and fire.

ESC has been working with trading standards teams to assist in carrying out raids at locations all across the UK whilst also developing safety information for consumers and traders.

This working together has created a mutually supportive working relationship and ESC’s attendance of the Trading Standards Institute’s Annual Conference also proved to be a success with the ESC seminar on identifying unsafe electrical products winning best session for the most informative seminar.

This kind of working together of two agencies whose goals are mutually similar in many ways can only be a good thing for consumers and the public as a whole if allowed to flourish as the combining of forces in this particular case.

If more agencies begin working alongside one another for mutually beneficial purposes, we could be seeing a lot more of the kind of results we are currently seeing from the ESC and Trading Standards efforts.

Written by Sara Thomson

ESC and the Blunder Hunt

ESC has launched a new campaign which is aimed at general consumers to help reduce the electrical mistakes they are making in their homes.

Despite a decline in recent years, these ‘blunders’ are leading to fires and electrical accidents, with fire caused by the misuse of electrical appliances increasing considerably. Average figures now stand at 22 deaths, 2,500 serious injuries and millions of pounds of damage every year.

Research has revealed that an increase in high risk appliances in the home, including things like microwaves and tumble dryers, combined with figures of more than half of UK homes not having any form of RCD protection encourages the conclusion that this increase in fires in the home is not entirely surprising.

However, there are still many incidents of electrical mistakes being made on a daily basis which are causing accidents and fires. The following are the most common:

  • Blocking air vents on microwaves to use it as an additional surface
  • Leaving a tumble dryer on overnight and unattended for periods of time
  • Not cleaning behind fridges and freezers which causes the air vents to become blocked
  • Overloading adaptor sockets
  • Leaving electrical appliances on unattended

Three quarters of the population admitted to committing at least one of these safety issues and ESC now believe that this shows a clear link to the surge in fires.

This Blunder Hunt campaign aims to ensure people are informed about electrical safety and, cut fires and accidents in the home.

Written by Sara Thomson

IET Code of Practice Changes Event

There has been a lot of noise recently around the Code of Practice and IET’s updating of it from the third Edition to the fourth Edition. In fact there’s been a lot of talk about PAT testing since the Lofstedt report was published.

Now it seems that the IET have updated the Code of Practice to fall in line with new ideas on PAT testing and to ensure further clarity in what contractors are responsible for and what they should be doing.

There are a number of interesting changes to the 4th Edition of the IET Code of Practice including that duty holders are now responsible for specifying testing frequency not the PAT tester and that trailing leads in offices are now allowed so long as correct assessments have been carried out.

There are a vast number of changes, some simple, some a little more complicated, but the IET have said that on the whole they have worked to make the book easier to understand and clearer.

However, there is still some confusion surrounding what contractors are, and are not, responsible for and what will be enforced. So to combat this confusion PASS has teamed up with Megger to bring you a free road-show event which discusses the changes and aims to help clear up any misunderstanding.

If you are someone struggling to understand what these changes mean for you, get yourself along to the Stockton on Tees training centre on the 22nd March or the 11th April. Even if you feel you do understand the changes, come along anyway, there might be something you’ve missed.

We look forward to seeing you there at:

1 Alberto Street
Stockton on Tees
TS18 5BQ

Written by Sara Thomson

The Evolving Face of PAT

There has been a lot of talk in the media lately about PAT testing and the frequency with which tests should be carried out.

This talk has led some to say that the changing face of PAT procedure means that going into the industry is a bad idea and that new recommendations to test via a risk based approach spells the end for those wanting to make a career in the PAT world.

However, Seaward reported recently that these changes don’t spell the death of PAT testing, as some say, but do in fact provide those willing to embrace the changes with the chance to provide clients with a much more thorough and professional service through a new way of performing PAT testing.

The changes will undoubtedly spell a change in the way PAT testing is carried out, but these changes can be an opportunity according to Jim Wallace, the Associate Director of Seward.

He discusses the fact that electrical testing needs to have a more focused approach and assess the safety risks of each appliance individually. This does mean that the current practice of charging per test will need to change and become a more a more thorough service of professional advisory, testing and record keeping.

Regardless of the changes to PAT testing procedures the fact that PAT testing saves lives and, prevents fires and injuries is indisputable. This fact has not changed and PAT testing will remain, it is only the unnecessary frequent testing of low risk appliances that is causing concern.

Jim Wallace reportedly said that the changes will allow PAT companies to continue to thrive once they embrace these changes and understand the new requirements.

Therefore we can be certain that PAT testing is not leaving, it is merely evolving.

Written by Sara Thomson