ME PAT newsletter - August 2014

  • Posted on: 10 August 2014
  • By: Mike

Hi all those out there with businesses,
“large or small”
Mike McCoy - ME Pat Group
And welcome to the “occasional” newsletter from ME PAT Services on health and safety in the work place with regards to Portable Appliance Testing and all manner of electrical related stories and articles. Safety is a very serious subject but if I keep pushing the “seriousness” of electrical safety you’d switch off quickly so we try to lighten it up a bit with a few stories, some light hearted bits and a gag or two – and in general what is happening in our little corner of the universe….

As August is now on us and the holiday season is in full swing, we’re starting to see and feel a dramatic shift to the summertime slow down with so many businesses either planning a break or indeed have left for their hols, I myself rarely see the Newcastle bypass so quiet, there has been many a time lately I have “left the office late and arrived early for the appointment”!!  But and it’s a big but, whereas many people find running a small business very rewarding, for some business owners taking a holiday is rarely one of those rewards. It can be very difficult to spend time away from a business that relies on you. However, you need to be realistic and it’s important to realise that a healthy business requires a healthy leader – if you don’t take proper care of yourself, including taking a break, then you’re not taking proper care of your business. Working non-stop without a break can lead to unnecessary stress, a lack of focus or creativity or you might start to make mistakes and lose sight of the bigger picture - all of which can have a negative impact on you and your business.

I will admit it took me a good few years to realise this and even though we are not quite ready to jet off to that villa in the sun yet, we are taking regular breaks “to feel the sand/grass between your toes” and a some serious chill out time!!

….So, practising what we preach, MEPAT have taken a short break during August to rest and recharge the batteries (did you miss us?) and we will hopefully be enjoying a longer break in October. So we are back and raring to go!

In the meantime to ensure that the all-important client service is not at risk I wish to share a few tips and advice notes that not only come from ourselves but from similarly minded service businesses and newsletters that have turned up in our email intray…..

  1. Set up diverts, email, landline AND mobile messages, a virtual service cover if need be – if you can afford it and think that the client traffic dictates it. Communicate to major clients about any downtime. Good clients WON’T hold it against you…..
  2. Sounds obvious but ensure any invoices are paid BEFORE you get on the plane or get away. No one should have to wait weeks to be paid just because you’re sunning yourself, besides which its less work to do when you get back….
  3. Turn off everything in the office [and home offices especially], at the mains as well as the equipment itself – however the exception are; servers, internet and PCs [turn off PCs but don’t switch off at the mains], of course the more you switch off the more money you’ll save….
  4. Unplug at the mains wherever possible [except as above, PCs, servers, internet], if you work from home and the plug/socket is buried behind a unit then try at least to switch these sockets off.
  5. Switch everything off in the kitchens, again not PCs, servers internet etc but also don’t switch off fridge/freezers, you don’t want to come back to a strange green goo coming out of the office kitchen….
  6. Finally, most important of all switch off your mobile, or at least periodically check it for “important messages only”! Remember you’re on holiday!!!

Meanwhile loosely connected with the theme above about switching equipment off not only in the office but also the “home” office, I.e working from home [which could potentially put your own home at risk as well as the office equipment if something goes wrong…]. Anyway I recently did a fact sheet that accompanied some talks I did around network groups and also at the Civic Centre for the Newcastle Private Landlords Forum, here are some simple, practical housekeeping advice.

Some simple, practical housekeeping
When anyone mentions PAT Testing [Portable Appliance Testing], there is an immediate cause for concern. Straight away business owners think about what the cost implication will be for their business, however there are some thing’s that can be done to protect their business, premises, clients, staff and the equipment … 

If you wonder which cables need testing then you need a professional PAT tester.Last November the code of practice for in-service inspection and testing of electrical equipment changed, but one thing that did not change was the need to ensure that the working environment is safe.

PAT testing has always been a means to an end; in this case the end is meeting with the Health and Safety at Work Act. More and more business are looking for ways in which they can reduce costs, however cutting back on the safety of your staff could end up being a dangerous, and even expensive, outcome.

Some of the things that you can do is carry out a Visual Inspection on the appliance before it is used, I would check:

  1. The flexible cable – make sure there are no cuts in the sieving
  2. The socket outlet – make sure it is not broken or cracked
  3. The appliances – have a look at the casing; is there any visible damage?
  4. The plug – have a look at the plug itself; is it cracked or broken
  5. Cardboard wiring diagrams – make sure they have been removed from the plug 

If any of the above is broken, damaged then report it to the responsible person and don’t use it. Some of the following checks may not be possible for equipment fitted with a non-rewirable plug:

  1. Identify signs of overheating
  2. Check inside the plug to check the polarity and connections
  3. Correct size fuse fitted, BS marked, ASTA marked

This is where your PAT Tester and their knowledge and experience comes into play. We have to take into account the appliance’s suitability for the environment or the nature of the work being undertaken. We check the fuse rating is correct and of course check to ensure the equipment is installed and is being operated in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions!

Good Housekeeping of your appliances could save your life so also consider checking:

  • That cables are located so as to avoid damag  The appliance means of disconnection (unplugging) is accessible
  • Don’t put filing cabinets in front of sockets being used
  • The appliance has adequate equipment ventilation
  • Do NOT put cups, plants and work material in places where they could spill
  • Do not position equipment so that the cable is being stretched
  • Make sure equipment is being operated with the covers in place and any doors are closed
  • Do not use multi-way adaptors and trailing sockets to excess
  • Make sure no unprotected cables run under carpets
  • If in doubt contact Mike McCoy of ME PAT Services for free advice and a survey!!

“Sharing the knowledge to reduce costs and protect lives in the work place”  
I hope you liked this month’s newsletter, if you are on holiday or about to go, enjoy yourselves, if you are not – then your time will come. Don’t work too hard – especially in the heat we have been experiencing. Have a great day, week or month and I wish you all the very best ….

   Mike McCoyTa, ta for now 

   Mike
   ME PAT Services Ltd