The Electricity at Work Regulations of 1989 places a “duty of care” on employers and landlords to maintain electrical systems to prevent danger where otherwise it may exist. In many cases traditional inspection and test work is not feasible where supplies are impossible to isolate such as hospitals, prisons, factories etc. Whilst it is imperative to carry out as much inspection and test work as possible, thermal imaging is an effective way of determining the presence of potential problems within the electrical distribution system without the need to isolate circuits. Images can be taken of key connections and switchgear and along with visual inspections and live testing can form a means to meeting your obligations under legislation.
Realistically, everybody has a duty to ensure the safety of others whilst at work; however, the Duty Holder will have ultimate responsibility for electrical safety. If nobody at your place of work is clear on who that is, then the responsibility falls on the most senior person. It is important to know who has the responsibility for safety and welfare of staff in order to establish that compliance is achieved.
Thermal Imaging involves a Norwood UK engineer visiting your premises armed with a powerful camera that uses infra-red technology to detect heat. Most electrical parts that are damaged or ready to fail will generate heat; the camera will detect excessive heat in relation to the ambient temperature which will alert the engineer to a potential problem. The engineer will be trained to recognise whether the heat is sufficient to warrant further investigation upon which the client will be notified. Generally speaking, thermal images can be taken by simply removing the cover or barrier to a piece of electrical distribution equipment and does not require isolation.
It is vital that this type of work is carried by a qualified and experienced test Engineer. Such Engineers are generally fully qualified electricians who have experience of test and inspection and have been trained and qualified in thermal imaging work specifically. When selecting your contractor you should ask to see evidence of their qualifications and experience in this type of work.
In theory there should be no impact whatsoever other than an Engineer being present on site visiting each key electrical location. Providing you communicate with the engineer and provide access to each location, there will be no impact and your business will not be affected.
Upon completion of the thermal imaging survey you will receive a report that details the condition of the electrical installation and any defects, which will require attention.
If you are not a technical person, then your contractor should be pleased to talk through your report with you and advise you of any further action required.
Thermal Imaging is charged using a day rate which can be anywhere between £250 and £600 dependant on location, access, time and volume of images taken. An engineer can comfortable survey 50 pieces of equipment in a day providing access is arranged.
There are many reasons not to do electrical test and inspections such as cost, inconvenience, or lack of knowledge. However none of these reasons will be accepted as a defence in the event that an accident or fire occurs. Aside from the threat of prosecution in the event of injury or death, surely the safety of your colleagues, employees, patients or belongings are reason enough to test and inspect electrical systems at work.