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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

General FAQ

GENERAL QUESTIONS
Fixed Wiring

Fixed Wiring FAQ

FIXED WIRING QUESTIONS
Portable Appliance Testing

Portable Appliance Testing FAQ

PAT QUESTIONS

General Questions

Q) Why have I not needed to have testing carried out before?

A) There has always been a requirement to satisfy Health & Safety legislation. In 1989 The Electricity at Work Regulations came into force, which clarifies the need to maintain electrical systems safely.

So there has always been the need and test data results will form a major part of your defense should an accident occur which leads to prosecution.

Q) I rent my business premises, is testing my landlords responsibility or mine?

A) You are responsible to make sure that you and your staff comply with Health & Safety legislation. However, it is usually dependent on the terms of your lease as to whether you or your landlord pays for testing to be carried out on the electrical installation.

Usually, if you are on a full repairing lease then the cost will fall to you. Portable Appliance testing will always be at your expense.

Q) What will happen if I don’t have testing carried out?

A) Unless and until you suffer an accident then probably nothing will happen. However, remember that maintenance of a safe electrical system is a legal requirement.

Therefore a preventable accident could lead to prosecution, for which there will be no insurance cover.

You may also find that an insurance loss adjuster could make much of the fact that you may not have maintained the system adequately which could have led to the claim. Again, this could lead to an unsuccessful claim and a costly experience.

Q) How will I know when my next test is due?

A) We hold records of all clients, together with re-test dates on our database and remind clients when re-tests are due.

Fixed Wiring Questions

Q) Will testing cause a lot of disruption to the power?

A) A short power outage can be expected on each circuit within the system but because most of the testing is carried out whilst the system is still live, these outages can be planned around your daily activities.

Q) Is electrical installation testing a legal requirement?

A) The law does not require electrical testing to be carried out. However, the law does require that you keep your entire electrical system safe at all times.

The only effective means to that end is to have periodic testing and inspection carried out, together with action to remedy any faults found as a result of testing.

If an accident or fire does occur where electricity is suspected to have been the cause, then the duty is yours to prove that you did your best to avoid that accident (offence). Test data results together with preventative maintenance records will provide your best proof and defence.

Q) Is electrical testing a requirement of my insurance company?

A) Increasingly, insurers are insisting that inspection and testing be carried out on a regular basis.

If you suffer an avoidable accident, then under law, if found guilty, you will be deemed to have committed a criminal offence. Insurers will not pay fines or compensation suffered resulting from a criminal offence.

Q) My insurers have recently carried out a site survey and they didn’t ask me to have electrical testing carried out.

A) A visiting inspector will not necessarily identify the need to maintain electrical safety at every inspection he makes, especially if there are other issues to be addressed.

Because testing has not been specifically demanded does not mean that the legal requirements to comply with electrical safety do not apply.

Q) My factory operates 24-hours a day, how can you carry out testing if I can’t stop production?

A) We have a great deal of experience in working within the constraints of three manufacturing environments. Because the majority of the testing involves carrying out live tests; we can schedule dead testing around pre-arranged windows of opportunity.

Be these during holidays, breakdowns, process changes, cleaning or maintenance stoppages, shift changes or weekends.

Q) I have been told that I only need to have a percentage of the system tested in order to comply.

A) As per the IEE Regulations, you can only rely on sample testing if you hold previous full system records, the installation is considered to be in excellent condition, no faults are found during sample testing and no undocumented alterations have been carried out since the system was new or last tested.

This does not hold true for the vast majority, for which full inspection and testing should be undertaken.

Q) I have been told that Thermal Imaging is sufficient and I don’t need a full Inspection and Test of my electrical installation.

A) No, definitely not. Thermal Imaging Photography is an excellent interim maintenance option for identifying hot spots in connections, fuses, motor bearing, conveyors etc. and can help prevent costly breakdowns and fires in some cases.

Thermal Imaging cannot take into account damaged equipment, lack of earthing, over fusing, excessive cable runs, volt drop, potential fuse disconnection time failures and a number of other potential faults.

So full periodic inspection and testing should form part of any maintenance regime.

Q) Others have quoted me for testing on the basis of the square footage of my premises. Why do you only quote on the basis of circuit numbers?

A) Because there is no real correlation between square feet and circuit numbers, it is a meaningless benchmark. We have employed engineers from other testing companies who have been paid on the basis of an amount per square foot.

We believe that this puts pressure on engineers to skimp on tests in high circuit density areas where they are racing to achieve unacceptable circuit test rates. It is also not an accurate reflection of the amount of work involved and therefore the cost.

Q) I am afraid that my electrical installation is quite old, won’t testing open a can of worms in terms of remedial work costs?

A) Because we accurately identify any faults found, the cost of remedy in most cases is not too great.

The majority of problems found involve earthing deficiencies, which although potentially very dangerous are not usually hugely expensive to remedy.

Q) How often should my electrical installation be tested?

A) The IEE guidance suggests the following test intervals:

  • Domestic 10-years
  • Commercial 5-years
  • Industrial 3-years

Q) I can get my electrical installation tested cheaper elsewhere, why should I choose ETS?

A) Not all testing companies offer the same service.

You can rest assured that ETS provide a very thorough and cost effective survey of all systems that will enable you not only to be able to prove compliance and be comfortable in the knowledge that any faults present have been found and reported about.

But also the fact that by virtue of the depth of detail that ETS reports provide, the cost of any remedial work required is likely to be lower than a less detailed report might be.

Portable Appliance Testing Questions

Q) What does it cost to have my portable appliances and/or electrical installation tested?

A) Costs are based on a cost per circuit or appliance tested multiplied by the numbers involved. This, together with the existing condition of and accessibility to the system will determine the overall cost.

Please contact us to assess your portable appliance testing or electrical testing needs further.

Q) Can I carry out portable appliance testing in-house?

A) Yes, provided you have the right test equipment and suitably competent and trained staff who can carry out the work.

In practice, experience has shown that even with suitably competent staff that in practice time is an issue and PAT testing often gets left at the back of the “to-do” list.

It is usually also not cost efficient to undertake PAT testing in house when you consider the cost of contracting out versus the cost of utilising in-house staff who are often pulled off such tasks to attend breakdowns. Do the sums.

Q) I run a small business, do I need to have my portable appliances tested?

A) The Electricity at Work Regulations apply to all businesses from multi-nationals to sole traders. So you still need to comply.

Q) How often should my portable appliances be tested?

A) The results of previous tests should be considered in a programme of risk assessment. In the absence of such history then the following intervals may be considered as a guide.

But remember that other factors such as the ability of site staff to identify any potential faults or damage and take suitable action. Mechanical damage and abuse must also be taken into consideration.

  • Low-risk 24-monthly or more
  • Medium risk 12-monthly
  • High risk (ie workshop equipment) 6-monthly
  • Very high risk (ie site equipment) 3-monthly

Q) Our clients often visit our premises, it is important to us that we are always perceived as a professional, smart and efficient organisation. Any work being carried out cannot be allowed to affect the smooth running of the business. How would your engineers fit with this objective?

A) Our engineers are always attired in a smart ETS corporate uniform, showing an ETS logo. They also all carry official ETS ID cards which can be shown upon request.

Our engineers are very mindful that the smooth running of your business is of paramount importance to you, and will work around your requirements in order to keep any disruption to an absolute minimum.

Q) What sort of report will I receive after my portable appliances have been tested?

A) Our detailed reports include a breakdown of all items tested in a clear, concise schedule to identify each item by number and location, followed by a detailed report showing all test results.

In addition, we provide a “failure sheet” which includes details of any failures encountered, together with all / any observations made by our engineer for the purpose of clarity.

Test date and next recommended test dates will also be shown. All this data can be provided in either a “Bound” hard copy or be emailed to you in a digital format (or both).

Q) Whilst undertaking testing, do you carry out any repairs whilst on site to things that might otherwise constitute a failure?

A) Yes, experience has shown that the majority of failures encountered are a result of a “visual” fault being identified.

To remedy this situation, our engineers will replace damaged plug tops, re-make badly made-off plug-tops or de-rate fuses as necessary in order to enable a “pass” whenever possible.

Q) I am the Group H&S Manager for a company with several hundred sites throughout the UK. Previous testing contractors have been hopeless in turning up at each site when due and in some cases have visited the same site multiple times early, and some sites never. In one case, a contractor completely lost control of the schedule. How would you prevent this happening?

A) Good question, this crops up often. At ETS we operate a database program that we wrote in-house which we designed specifically to manage visit schedules.

Each engineer is issued “due jobs” for all clients in a close geographical area and will ring each site ahead of visiting to schedule a mutually convenient visit date and time.

The database is updated automatically when each job is “cleared down”. So that next due dates are always maintained accurately for each and every site we visit. Many of our multi-site client managers benefit from the fact that we can provide a progress or re-test due-date “snap-shot”, by site, at any time.

And because we have complete control of all records we can very easily provide duplicate copies of test data for insurance or H&S compliance purposes.

Q) We are a large office, our staff all work with a PC and we cannot have these turned off during the working day. How would you deal with this?

A) If individual terminals cannot be shut down for a short period during the working day on a planned and scheduled basis, then we can undertake testing either at night, or during weekends in liaison with your IT Management – this we do for a small number of clients. This service may involve additional cost.

Very often in fact, by discussion, we can find that a mutually workable solution can be found to enable this work to be undertaken during normal working hours, sometimes with early starts or late finishes.

Q) Our computer servers cannot be shut down, ever. How would you test these?

A) If the Server(s) are under the control of an IT department and are located in an area only accessible by the IT specialists, then we will carry out a through visual inspection of all the equipment, together with an “earth bond” test of all extraneous metalwork and chassis or earthed metal parts of all class 1 appliances.

This will be recorded as a limitation, but one which is acceptable on the basis that only qualified specialists have access to the area.


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