Many people safely make use of portable electrical equipment while at work. However, this equipment can be dangerous and cause harm to people if it is not used or maintained correctly.
For this reason, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published its HSG107 guidance that covers the maintenance of portable electrical equipment. In this article, we will look at this guidance in detail and discuss some of its key takeaways.
HSG107 is a set of guidance that provides advice on maintaining portable electrical equipment to prevent danger. It is designed for those who use or are responsible for the maintenance of portable electrical equipment.
Before we look at the HSG107 guidance further, it is important to note that it only applies to portable electrical Class I (earthed) and Class II (double insulated) equipment that can be connected to a fixed mains supply or a locally generated supply. This covers most portable electrical equipment, and includes extension leads, plugs and sockets, but does not cover large items such as vehicles, cranes and generators.
It is also not legal guidance, so complying with HSG107 does not guarantee that a person or organisation will be compliant with related legislation such as the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.
One of the first things that the HSG107 guidance covers is completing risk assessments.
A risk assessment must be completed before any portable electrical equipment is used. This allows for any risks associated with the equipment to be identified and controlled before they are able to cause harm.
Risk assessments are especially important for portable equipment because it is more likely to be physically damaged (both the equipment itself and the cable connected to it) or used in dangerous environments.
To ensure that portable equipment remains safe to use, the HSG107 guidance encourages people to adopt a proactive maintenance plan that involves:
Before an item of portable electrical equipment is used, it should be visually checked by the user. They should look for obvious signs that it is unsafe to use, such as:
A formal visual inspection is when a competent person takes an in-depth look at the equipment to identify any potentially dangerous faults that are not immediately visible. These inspections should be completed regularly, and should also confirm that:
Formal visual inspections should not involve disassembly of the equipment itself, but may involve checking inside of the plug cover to ensure that:
A portable equipment test (PAT) is used to identify any issues with the electrical equipment that cannot be detected visually. This includes issues such as a broken wire within a flexible cable, or the deterioration of insulation. Specifically, a PAT typically involves checking that:
These tests involve the use of specialist equipment, and must be carried out by a competent person with the knowledge and experience required to use this equipment. They must also be carried out regularly, as well after any repairs, or if there is reason to suspect that the equipment is faulty.
It is important to note that there is no legal requirement to keep maintenance logs for portable electrical equipment. However, the HSG107 guidance highly recommends that logs are kept in order to monitor and review the effectiveness of the maintenance plan.
It also provides a series of suggested times between inspections, which can be viewed here.
The guidance makes it clear that any repairs must be carried out by a competent person, and that it may be easier and safer to fully replace a defective piece of equipment. This is especially true for defective flexible cables because its conductor wires, insulation and sheathing materials can all deteriorate over time.
At Commodious, we offer an Electrical Safety Awareness course and a Work Equipment (PUWER) Safety Awareness course. These courses are designed for those that use multiple kinds of equipment at work, including portable electrical equipment. To find out more about theses courses, use the links below: