When push comes to shove as they say, there’s no getting away from the fact that business and building owners are charged with the responsibility of maintaining the health and safety of their workers/occupants. Needless to say, this isn’t exactly the smallest of burdens to say the least and one that’s always likely to get on top of some – especially those in the business for the first time.
However, according to the professional portable appliance testers of the UK there are dozens of ways and means by which business owners can share the responsibility among any number of employees and thus ease the weight otherwise placed exclusively on their own shoulders. And while all the measures in the world can’t take away from the fact that they are ultimately responsible for what occurs and where, they at least stand to make their lives easier when it comes to addressing electrical safety.
Consider the following tips from the UK’s Portable Appliance Tester community serving the business world:
The foremost consideration of importance is that of education – as in helping workers better understand what PAT Testers are and what they do. Chances are that most will have seen plenty of those little PAT stickers gracing tested appliances across the business, but do they really know why they’re there or what they mean?
Unless you yourself have taken the time to educate them, chances are the answer is a no.
By first giving workers an idea of what PAT Testing actually is, you stand a much better chance of driving home its importance. And what’s more, as soon as any given employee realises what a PAT sticker means and why it is of value, there’s a pretty good chance their future observations will be more astute and help pinpoint where they may be missing or no longer valid.
It’s not a case of teaching the whole workforce how to use a Seaward Primetest 100, but rather just conveying the basics of why PAT Testing is of such mandatory importance.
Next up, the brains behind the UK’s health and safety services cannot strongly enough convey the importance of getting as many workers as possible personally involved in electrical safety initiatives at work. Again, it isn’t a case of teaching everyone up to degree standard, but rather building safe and workable habits for the long term.
Annual or one-off training sessions are as dull as dishwater and never fail to depress. As such, it is a much better idea to champion day-by-day initiatives of a more gradual and on-going nature than blast workers with all the facts and figures all at once. Part of the important PAT process is a simple thorough visual inspection of all electronic appliances before and ideally after use – try to work this into a daily checklist of duties for everyone. In addition, provide the necessary materials or points of contact for even the slightest concerns to be voiced and thus help bring problems to light when and they may occur.
And another great tip is to think about periodically sending workers from different areas of the business to carry out their own inspections of areas they don’t primarily work in – chances are they will be much pickier and thus highlight problems others may have missed. It’s all a case of structuring and delegating a few simple day-to-day checks that become second nature in no time at all.
What never fails to fail is the kind of system whereby a boss or building owner talks the hind legs off everyone about how great it’s going to be, only for that to be the last mention of visible effort pertaining to it. By contrast, what never fails to work is genuine and thoughtful interaction whereby one-on-one contact is made with workers and building occupants on a regular basis to demonstrate that the subject really is of importance to everyone.
What’s more, next time the inspectors make a visit armed to the teeth with their Seaward Primetest 50 arsenals, give those already involved in the various safety initiatives plenty of time to see the process in action and ask questions. Some would argue this is time better spent elsewhere, others would say it’s a small price to pay for electrical health and safety awareness at work.
Last but not least, perhaps the most important thing of all to remember is the way in which the channel of communication needs to be two-way and encouraged. You can lecture a staff-force until blue in the face about the value of electrical safety and the merits of the Primetest 100, but everyone knows that lectures of such a kind tend to go in one ear and out the other unless the content is put into practice.
So, open new channels of communication by installing suggestion boxes, offering incentives for any positive ideas implemented and consider appointing at least one individual per department to monitor electrical safety, perhaps on a rotating basis.
Build the channels of communication strong enough and to a large extent you might just find that much of the responsibility is taken entirely out of your hands.
By Francesca Holmes
Francesca Holmes is a private electrical engineering tutor from Weymouth who specialises in competence with the Seaward Primetest 50 and its various component devices. When not campaigning for a safer UK workplace, she is a keen sailor and doting mother of f
Thanks, Francesca, for this information about the importance of employees understanding the hazards associated with electrical testing. When dielectric personal protective equipment is needed, please refer to Texas America Safety Company, for quality products.