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Regulation 4(2) of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 says ‘As may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, such danger’. It is very “practicable” to simply visually inspect appliances before use. Visual Inspections catch the vast majority of faults before they become a problem.
The leads and plugs, or sometimes the equipment itself, can become damaged. This may result in an electric shock. Electric shocks can kill. Damaged equipment can also cause fires. By frequently checking plugs, leads and equipment before use YOU become the best tool in the prevention of accidents and fires. The value of user checks should not be underestimated.
Portable Appliance users should look critically at the electrical equipment which they use, look for damage to the outside of the equipment, its lead and plug before using the appliance, but they should not take the plug or appliance apart.
By looking! This is the most important maintenance precaution. Around 95% of faults or damage can be found just by looking (Visual Inspection). The things users are looking for on the equipment, the cable and plug (after disconnecting it) are signs of:
This does not apply to moulded plugs where only the fuse can be checked. But the sheath must be in good condition with no cuts or cracks. Most of these checks also apply to extension leads and their plugs and sockets.
They should tell somebody (a supervisor or manager) and the equipment should be labelled as faulty and taken out of service to be repaired or discarded. (The plug could be taken (but never cut) off to stop it being used.) A record of the fault and the remedial action taken must be made in your Faulty Equipment Register (usually kept with the PAT Testing Report)