The Role of Visual Inspection in Maintaining the Safety of Electrical Equipment
02 February 2015
Current health and safety guidance on the use of workplace equipment puts even greater emphasis on effective visual inspection, says Willie Cody of IPAT Ltd

There has long been considerable evidence that faulty electrical appliances in the workplace consistently pose a serious threat to people and property through accidents, injuries and fire hazards. There is also indisputable evidence that the periodic in-service inspection and testing of electrical equipment prevents injuries, saves lives and avoids workplace fires that would otherwise be devastating for those involved.

This situation has not changed – but the clear message from organisations such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the IET (through its Code of Practice for the In Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment) is that electrical equipment maintenance regimes should be based on a more focused and robust approach to assessing the safety risks posed by appliances.

The sentiment behind the recent guidance follows concern that the implied legal requirement for maintaining the safety of electrical appliances was being applied too broadly and disproportionately, resulting in situations of costly over compliance, particularly in more benign working environments.

As a result, the clear message now is that only when the extent of the potential hazard associated with a particular item of electrical equipment has been assessed and understood can it be managed through a programme of inspection and testing.

Minimising the risk

The legal requirements relating specifically to the use and maintenance of electrical equipment are contained in the Health and Safety at Work Act. These Regulations apply to all work activities involving electrical equipment. They place duties on employers, the self-employed and employees (subsequently referred to as ‘dutyholders’) to control […]