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Assessing the frequency of testing

The Health & Safety Executive offers no absolute rules on the frequency of the testing and inspection of portable appliances. The Memorandum of Guidance on the Electricity at Work Regulations suggests that 'regular inspection of equipment is an essential part of any preventative maintenance program', but no attempt is made to specify the intervals of time implied by the word 'regular'. The reason for this omission is obvious; different situations require different measures in order to meet the requirement that the danger is prevented. The factors which effect the frequency of testing must be assessed by the duty holder who thereby makes the judgement.

In arriving at a judgement as to the frequency of testing, a duty holder is likely to assess the following factors:-

  • 1. The environment - equipment installed in a benign environment will suffer less damage than equipment in an arduous environment
  • 2. Users - if the users report damage as and when it becomes evident, hazards will be avoided. Conversely, if equipment is likely to receive unreported abuse, more frequent inspection and testing is required
  • 3. The equipment construction - the safety of a Class 1 appliance is dependent upon a connection with earth of the electrical installation. If the flexible cable is damaged the connection with earth can be lost. Safety of Class 2 equipment is not dependent upon the fixed electrical installation
  • 4. The equipment type - appliances which are hand held are more likely to be damaged than fixed appliances. If they are Class 1 the risk of danger is increased, as the safety is dependent upon the continuity of the protective conductor from the plug to the appliance.

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