The regulations surrounding the in-service inspection & testing of Portable Equipment can be found in the Safety , Health & Welfare at Work ( General Application) regulations 2007.
Section 81: Portable Equipment states “An employer shall ensure, where appropriate, that a competent person—
(a) tests any portable equipment described in paragraph (1)(c)(i) and (ii), and
(b) certifies whether or not the portable equipment (including any cables and plugs) was, on the day of test, as far as could reasonably be ascertained, safe and without risk to persons coming into direct or indirect contact with any live part of the equipment.
(3) If the certificate of the competent person referred to in paragraph (2) indicates that the portable equipment tested was not, on the day of the test, safe and without risk, as described in that paragraph, the employer shall ensure that the equipment is not used until it is made safe and certified as such in compliance with paragraph (2).”
Additionally the Electro – Technical Council of Ireland (ETCI ) have produced a guide to the maintenance , inspection & testing of Portable Equipment ( Electrical Appliances & Tools) in the workplace ET 215:2008. This guide can be downloaded from the ETCI website http://etci.ie/publications/index.html
The frequency of such inspections and testing must be accessed on the back of a risk based approach assessment taking into account the location, use and nature of the appliance/ equipment.
All equipment that fail to clear the tests and visual inspections must be suitably labelled, and usage discontinued until the unit is repaired, tested and certified for use.
The regulation S.I NO.299 (2007) also has prohibited the use of portable equipment with rated less than 2 kVA functioning at over 124 volts, in external quarrying or construction projects, or cramped/ damp spaces. Portable generators and transformers, however, are exempt from this ban.
It is possible to ensure safe use of portable appliances at the workplace by simply training the end user to look for basic, yet glaring visible cues that are characteristic of a potentially unsafe or faulty unit. Cracked plugs, frayed or cut cables, or other significant physical damage to specific appliance or equipment can easily be spotted even before the unit is operated. A ready reckoner of visual checks displayed at vantage points will prove an apt reminder for workers to quickly inspect the appliance before use, and when in doubt report the fault or take adequate precautions if at all the appliance must be used.
Regardless of legislation such as the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, under common law, employers have always had a general duty to provide their employees with a safe place of work.
Generally, employers’ obligations can be summarised under the following 5 categories:
- Provide safe systems of work
- Provide safe work premises
- Plant and machinery that is considered to be safe and fit for purpose
- Proper Training and supervision
- A duty of care in the selection of fellow employees.