Faulty electrical equipment is reckoned to be the cause of as much as 40% of all fires in a commercial environment.
It is no wonder, therefore, that most Fire Risk Assessments will consider the measures you take to prevent fire as a result of faulty electrical equipment. There are two main recommendations:
- 5 yearly inspection of the fixed electrical installation (Electricity at Work Regulations 1989)
- Periodic testing of portable electrical appliances (‘PAT’ testing)
‘PAT’ testing of appliances has been the subject of one of the HSE’s ‘Myth Busting’ campaigns, in which the HSE has sought to underline that there is no legal requirement to carry out ‘PAT’ testing at fixed intervals, on all types of equipment. However, there is a minimum requirement to visually inspect electrical equipment periodically and, presumably, prove that you have done so.
When you look at the detail of the recommendations, most people quickly conclude that by the time you have decided what is ‘Class I’ and what is ‘Class II’, what is ‘earthed’, and what is ‘double insulated’, and sorted all your equipment into different periods for inspecting, you might as well have everything ‘PAT’ tested in one hit. At least if a third party does the testing you know it will get done, it will get done properly and it will be recorded.
However, if you choose to tackle the matter take it seriously – preventing fire is always cheaper than clearing up afterwards.