The IET Code of Practice has changed – find out what’s going on in this breakdown by the IET.
In order to let people know how the changes in the IET Code of Practice for In-Service Inspection and Testing (4th Edition) the IET held a webinar where one of the authors of the book walked you through some of the changes.
The talk began with an introduction to why the changes were put in place. Through extensive research over the last few years the IET found that several factors in the 3rd edition of the Code of Practice were no longer relevant or were being misinterpreted.
The Lofstedt report, which was put out late in 2012, found that companies felt like they were being pressured into PAT testing too much and that there was significant confusion about the frequency of when PAT testing was carried out.
The IET also found that many people were misinterpreting table 7.1 in the Code of Practice which defines general time scales of when testing should be performed. This, coupled with the general sense of confusion, meant that PAT testing is more often than not being carried out far too often when it simply isn’t needed.
Changes in Scope
In order to reflect the need to enhance the general understanding of testing the IET has changed the scope of the 4th edition to better reflect what should be going on in the industry.
The first change in scope is to hopefully expel the myths of the 7.1 table by enhancing understanding of risk assessment procedures, making sure that companies understand what risk assessment is, how it should be performed and how it can be used to calculate the frequency of electrical test procedures such as fixed installation testing and PAT testing.
The 4th edition of the IET Code of Practice also includes new types of equipment, more information on different kinds of premises and how equipment is used in the workplace and how this affects the testing procedures.
Second hand equipment has been included in this revision of the Code of Practice as the IET has found that due to increased emphasis on safety and quality many second hand products now have drastically longer shelf-life than they used to. This move was also moved because they didn’t feel it was fair to penalise equipment for being second hand, and also as a way to help the environment by stopping appliances from being thrown away when they simply don’t need to be.
The way hiring equipment is presented has also been changed. Under the new scope, hiring equipment becomes the responsibility of the person currently possessing it after 7 days, meaning they are then responsible for its maintenance and any necessary testing.
Microwave Leakage Testing has been removed from this edition of the IET Code of Practice. This was done because this test is not purely electrical based, but the IET did stress that electrical safety tests on the actual microwave should still go ahead. Similarly, Manufacturer Type Testing has also been removed as it has no purpose in the scope.
There has been a few changing made to the general wordings of the Code as well. Under the new scope there’s extra emphasis put on how it is the responsibility of the duty holder/responsible person, not the company performing, to determine how often tests must be completed and how they go about completing these tests.
This is a somewhat monumental change to the way testing is performed as it will require duty holders to be much more active in how testing is performed, and less power is in the hands of those carrying out the tests to recommend how often tests should be carried out.
In other words, this change is designed to stop PAT testing and other forms of testing from occurring when there is absolutely no need for it to be performed.
New changes to the scope means new relevant definitions have also been added to the Code of Practice as well.
HMOS (housing in multiple occupancy) has been added, which in turn affects the responsibilities of landlords who must ensure equipment is completely safe before tenants are allowed to use it.
Risk/Risk Assessment has been defined as it is the IETs view that in order to practice something you must first understand it fully. Since risk assessment is such a big part of the changes in the 4th edition, this understanding is crucial
The section of law and the legalities behind testing has been updated to better reflect the responsibilities of landlords and the requirements placed upon them by the Code of Practice.
Fixed Installations/Trailing Leads
Under the new Code Fixed Installations have been adjusted slightly so that it is the responsibility of the duty holder to make sure they know exactly where all fixed appliances are, how they are connected up and they must also be assessed before PAT testing to make sure they’re of adequate quality. The webinar spokesperson also mentioned that supply cables in the building’s fabric are often missed, and stressed that this should not be the case.
He also mentioned that trailing leads used in IT suites must be assessed correctly and that is the responsibility of the duty holder to do so.
The changes in the Code of Practice mean that greater information is now available on fixed equipment, and new sections include safe isolation, the competency of the person doing the assessment and the isolation and removal of cables required for testing. The IET also emphasised that under the new Code the competency of the tester must be greater than that of someone who has simply done a PAT testing course, and it is the responsibility of the duty holder to make sure that this is the case.
Under the new guidelines emphasis has been placed on the fact that experience is extremely important. It is no longer enough just to do a simple training course and gain a PAT testing qualification, and the competency of a tester must be judged on their experience rather than their passing of said course.
Section 7: Risk Assessment and Frequency
The changes made to section seven of the Code, which deals with how often testing procedures must be carried out, were also emphasised.
First of all, the requirements, information about duty holders and how to actually perform risk assessment are detailed, allowing duty holders to get a better understanding of how to perform a comprehensive risk assessment.
This change is vitally important to the next section, which puts the responsibility of performing risk assessment and determining the frequency of testing in the hands of the duty holder. The person performing the test can only act as an advisor in this case, and cannot be responsible for determining when the next test is due.
As previously mentioned, changes have been made to the 7.1 which is used to determine frequencies. Recommendations from the HSE have been added, and the table can now be used if no previous records exist to gain a base number for whether frequencies are right. You need to know that this is merely a baseline – the responsible person/duty holder must still carry out a full risk assessment and should adjust the frequency of testing as appropriate depending on what needs to be tested and the environment the appliances are in.
Section 8: Labelling/RCDs/Extension Leads
The changes to section seven tie in directly with the changes to section 8: labelling.
Since it is no longer the responsibility of the person performing the test to recommend the next test date, the requirement for labels to have a ‘next test due’ field has been removed. This has been done to encourage duty holders to carry out full risk assessments.
It is also no longer a requirement to relabel something unless the duty holder says so.
They also stressed that labelling is not a legal requirement, but it is good practice to do so as it gives the duty holder the opportunity to easily manage assets.
The final point briefly touched upon during the webinar was about RCDs and extension leads but these weren’t elaborated upon.
The IET concluded their webinar by stating that these changes are a “big step forward in improving industry practices “and they hope that this will be a great step forward in “allowing dutyholders more control over their own domain.”
Phew, that’s a lot of information to digest. There are more changes still in the IET Code of Practice 4th edition, so make sure you get your copy today and learn exactly how the world of In-Service Inspection and Testing has changed and how it affects you.