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I posted something a while back regarding our responsibility for when we find a fault on a system such as poor ZS or failed IR been having a discussion at work with the maintenance supervisor who has stated if he has given me written instructions to re energise these circuits I am then in the clear. I wanted to see what you guys think. I believe me knowing there is a fault and still going ahead and reinstating the equipment is negligence but what are your thoughts? The thing that got me thinking thought is when carrying out periodic inspections (not that’s I have) if it’s a C2 found the circuit isn’t locked off it’s left down to the person ordering the work to get sorted and sort out the defects?
 
timhoward

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A C2 would (generally) require one more fault/action to happen to put persons, livestock or property at risk.
I'd agree that if you have it in writing to re-energise, then someone else is putting their neck on the line and accepting responsibility for any consequences.
It's a reality that many electrical reports don't get acted on, but ultimately if the danger is pointed out then duty has been discharged.

You have to pick battles, and I'd save the "I'm not leaving that energised" or "I need to rectify that right now" cards for very clear C1 situations.
 
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been having a discussion at work with the maintenance supervisor who has stated if he has given me written instructions to re energise these circuits I am then in the clear.
Are these written instructions given on a job by job basis or is it a standing instruction for all jobs either way make sure you keep a record just in case
 
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pc1966

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Remember you do not generally have any legal authority to disconnect power, etc. But you do have a very clear requirement under H&E rules to protect folks. Even for C1 the best you can do is to temporarily patch it if possible (e.g. tape over a broken cover, etc) or leave the dangerous circuit(s) switched off after testing and inform the responsible persons about the dangers and options to fix it. Most folk will take heed but if you suspect they are going to ignore you and put others in danger then you might be wise to report it to H&S so they get a visit to check up.

But as above, for C2 it is something that is typically a single fault away from real danger so they normally have some grace period to arrange a repair. I think that is 28 days for rented property?

They may well be very good reasons to keeps something on for the time it takes to arrange a proper fix and that is really a judgment call for whoever supervises the installation as they are responsible after you have done your duty to test and inform.

ALWAYS inform them in writing and ideally get some written acknowledgement that they have received it (get them to sign and date your report, or even an email or text reply) and keep a copy yourself just in case.
 
nicebutdim

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Are these written instructions given on a job by job basis or is it a standing instruction for all jobs either way make sure you keep a record just in case

An email to the supervisor might help. People are quick to dismiss stuff, until there's a record of information being brought to their attention.
 
OP
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I just wasn’t sure how it relates to an industrial environment. In maintenance a lot of the gear is critical to the process so they don’t like things being switched off. The problem I’ve been having is alot of the old maintenance sparks don’t test when carrying out like for like replacements and PPM work so none of what I’m picking up has ever been noticed. My issue is am I covered if I’ve been given an email in writing to switch on a machine with a fault (non compliant Zs) as I’m the electrical qualified person knowing there’s a fault on the circuit but still energising? would this not be brought up in the court of law?.
 
Lister1987

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I just wasn’t sure how it relates to an industrial environment. In maintenance a lot of the gear is critical to the process so they don’t like things being switched off. The problem I’ve been having is alot of the old maintenance sparks don’t test when carrying out like for like replacements and PPM work so none of what I’m picking up has ever been noticed. My issue is am I covered if I’ve been given an email in writing to switch on a machine with a fault (non compliant Zs) as I’m the electrical qualified person knowing there’s a fault on the circuit but still energising? would this not be brought up in the court of law?.
I would say no. If you switch it on, regardless if you have been told to then your Regulation 29 defence is null and void as you (in the eyes of the law) energised something that is unsafe, irrespective whether this was 'under duress' (fear of being fired) or otherwise - You would be defended in full if you advised you will not undertake the action, outlining the safety concerns and then were subsequently punished for it (Employment tribunal will side you your refusal to energise an unsafe circuit).

As far as Reg 29 is concerned, once the duty is discharged (and can be proven) any subsequent action (and heaven forbid fatality) would not come on you
 
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I would say no. If you switch it on, regardless if you have been told to then your Regulation 29 defence is null and void as you (in the eyes of the law) energised something that is unsafe, irrespective whether this was 'under duress' (fear of being fired) or otherwise - You would be defended in full if you advised you will not undertake the action, outlining the safety concerns and then were subsequently punished for it (Employment tribunal will side you your refusal to energise an unsafe circuit).

As far as Reg 29 is concerned, once the duty is discharged (and can be proven) any subsequent action (and heaven forbid fatality) would not come on you
Thanks so how does this work for periodic when you find a similar thing? Should you switch of the faulty circuit with poor ZS reading (any C2 codes) and let the persons ordering the work reenergise after it has been detailed in writing the problems with the circuit?
 
Lister1987

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Thanks so how does this work for periodic when you find a similar thing? Should you switch of the faulty circuit with poor ZS reading (any C2 codes) and let the persons ordering the work reenergise after it has been detailed in writing the problems with the circuit?
Personally I would seek to isolate (if I've got control over the circuit for testing purposes I'd just leave my tag on), compile a report as usual, prepare a List of remedials/Danger Notification (as applicable) and either send via recorded means (signed for mail/electronic mail) or capture the clients signature on the report, the last line of which will read;

I (customer signee) acknowledge that I have received a copy of the report from (your company), for the purposes of (purpose of report) and have been made aware of several areas of concern, in the opinion of theinspector.

I acknowledge that I have been advised to (insert advice - Don't not energise) by the aforementioned company. By signing this document I acknowledge responsibility and consequence of reenergisation of (insert circuits here).

Failure to sign this document does not preclude that (company) have not discharged thier duty of care under relevent parts of Electricity at Work Regulations 1981.

This document forms part of (your company) defence under Regulation 29 and failure for the person's responsible for the installation (the client) to sign this document and acknowledge the duty of care has been discharged, does not retract from this, as evidential proof of the defects being highlighted, documented, issued and acknowledged (by payment for the works) exists in the form of reports, receipts, images and witness statements (where applicable).




Or something like that.
 
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If it were a domestic EICR you would not isolate and leave off a C2 circuit (which from BPG #4 applies to high Zs), rather you would report the issue and the landlord has 28 days to have it fixed. C1 is a different matter, then you would not restore power as it presents an immediate danger.

So the real question to me is how serious is the high Zs case?

In an industrial environment the risks from high Zs could be less than domestic (if controlled environment, skilled staff, etc), or it could be so much higher it really merits a C1 danger category - in which case you would not re-energise.

That is where you need to apply some judgment and to report the nature of the fault in such a manner that the person in charge can make a sensible decision about the time-scale for remedial action and the impact of down-time.

High Zs could be due to a fault, in which case (a) it might get worse and (b) that could become a hot-spot / fire-risk in the event of a fault. However, from what you said it seems the Zs values are probably the result of poor or no design / measurement in the past.

Whatever the cause of the high Zs values, the impact is the same: longer (or in the worst case no) disconnection times. That in turn presents a higher risk of shock from the touch potential of earthed metalwork involved in the fault, and it also poses a risk of cable damage or even a fire if the resulting I2t exceeds the cable's adiabatic limits.

The risk of shock is also dependent on what is involved, If it is machinery that is on its own in a dry area then probably a low risk of a serious shock current-time exposure, where as external metalwork like street lights could allow someone to have a very serious shock.

Similarly the adiabatic risk depends on several factors. Generally if the OCPD is able to overload-protect the cable, and the CPC is the same size, then you don't have any fire risk. However, if the OCPD was intended for only fault protection, or if a reduced size CPC is in use, then it merits a far more serious check. Then of course the environment is also a factor. Cable in metal conduit is not likely to start a fire, but flex in an environment with other combustible materials, solvent vapour, etc., is quite a different matter.

If you have your measured Zs and it appears to match "poor/no design" as the reason, then I would plug it in to the time-current curve of the OCPD and get an idea of the range of disconnection times and look at quite what that means in practice, and also if there is any RCD (even a delay incomer) that would also provide ADS, to get an upper I2t value and see what it implies. If on nominal volts at the site (not the Umin of the regs) you see over 5s then I would worry.

This rambling discussion is not really answering your important question about what to do in a simple way, but in practice you often have to deal with imperfect systems and trying to inform those above of the severity of a given non-compliance is important, and also if you believe there are low-disruption fixes possible (e.g. running another CPC in parallel / supplementary bond to reduce R2 enough to meet the regs, maybe going for a lower MCB rating or D->C->B curve if it is not absolutely needed for the load in question's inrush characteristics, etc.)
 
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timhoward

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I'll try to give a practical suggestion as the responsibilities in EAWR are generally regarding the duty holder only energising safe equipment, not the inspector de-energising dangerous equipment. The inspector re-energising is where it gets fun, hence this thread.

The simplest course of action if you are concerned the danger is sufficient and you are not being listened to is probably to leave it locked off with a cable tie through it and issue a handwritten note explaining that it contravenes Reg 11 of the EAWR and due to Reg 5 of EAWR you cannot put it back into service. By cutting your seal and re-energising they are the ones re-energising it not you.

Note 55 of Reg 3 seems relevant:
55 This arrangement recognises the level of responsibility which many employees in the electrical trades and professions are expected to take on as part of their job. The ‘control’ which they exercise over the electrical safety in any particular circumstances will determine to what extent they hold responsibilities under the Regulations to ensure that the Regulations are complied with.

It is of course generally better to try and foster a healthy working relationship based on pragmatism and trust.
 
DPG

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I'll try to give a practical suggestion as the responsibilities in EAWR are generally regarding the duty holder only energising safe equipment, not the inspector de-energising dangerous equipment. The inspector re-energising is where it gets fun, hence this thread.

The simplest course of action if you are concerned the danger is sufficient and you are not being listened to is probably to leave it locked off with a cable tie through it and issue a handwritten note explaining that it contravenes Reg 11 of the EAWR and due to Reg 5 of EAWR you cannot put it back into service. By cutting your seal and re-energising they are the ones re-energising it not you.

Note 55 of Reg 3 seems relevant:
55 This arrangement recognises the level of responsibility which many employees in the electrical trades and professions are expected to take on as part of their job. The ‘control’ which they exercise over the electrical safety in any particular circumstances will determine to what extent they hold responsibilities under the Regulations to ensure that the Regulations are complied with.

It is of course generally better to try and foster a healthy working relationship based on pragmatism and trust.

I think your last line is the key one here. I wouldn't feel comfortable working in an environment where I was constantly worrying about covering my backside in case people above me dropped me in it.
 
OP
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That’s guys sounds a lot of CYA 😂 so with EICRs if the person ordering the work has told us to keep on a C2 we do as they have asked as long as we have it all documented? Or is regulation 29 still void?

With my situation as it’s not an EICR ( I work for a company doing maintenance) what would you guys do in my position document and let someone else turn on the faulty equipment?
 
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I posted something a while back regarding our responsibility for when we find a fault on a system such as poor ZS or failed IR been having a discussion at work with the maintenance supervisor who has stated if he has given me written instructions to re energise these circuits I am then in the clear. I wanted to see what you guys think. I believe me knowing there is a fault and still going ahead and reinstating the equipment is negligence but what are your thoughts? The thing that got me thinking thought is when carrying out periodic inspections (not that’s I have) if it’s a C2 found the circuit isn’t locked off it’s left down to the person ordering the work to get sorted and sort out the defects?
I had this discussion recently

My thinking was that if an installation is unsafe you shouldn't commence work if it involves switching off and re-energising the installation
 
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pc1966

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My thinking was that if an installation is unsafe you shouldn't commence work if it involves switching off and re-energising the installation
The question is "How unsafe?"
  • No system or installation operating at usable levels of power for domestic and industrial plant is completely safe.
  • Today if (in the UK) you follow the 18th edition of the BS 7671 regulations then it is deemed to be safe enough.
  • A site installed 30-40 years ago was deemed to be safe then, today it would be seen as unacceptable for a new install but (generally) we don't simply switch them off.
  • Probably in 30-40 years time what we discuss now will be considered unsafe as it fails to meet whatever future regulations or protective devices that will be introduced.
I think the OP's issue is with systems that are being repaired or maintained and they fail on some aspect like high Zs which is a design issue, and not a fault that is easily rectified by, say, finding fixing some poor CPC connection.

That was the sort of point I was trying to make in my rather rambling post earlier, to try and assess what the real danger is from the observed discrepancies with the current regs and explain it in writing so whoever supervises the system is able to make an informed decision.

For example:
  • If I checked a circuit and found Zs to be 10% above the table in the regs then I would not be too worried about switching it back on as the added risk is fairly small (but it is still worthy of C2 in an EICR style report).
  • However, if Zs is so high it may not disconnect at all, or might start a fire as cables can't handle the fault current/I2t then I would not be willing to switch back on. This is basically not so far from the C1 case in BPG #4 where you have supply reversed polarity so essentially all line-only OCPD is useless.
 
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Mikegh

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The question is "How unsafe?"
  • No system or installation operating at usable levels of power for domestic and industrial plant is completely safe.
  • Today if (in the UK) you follow the 18th edition of the BS 7671 regulations then it is deemed to be safe enough.
  • A site installed 30-40 years ago was deemed to be safe then, today it would be seen as unacceptable for a new install but (generally) we don't simply switch them off.
  • Probably in 30-40 years time what we discuss now will be considered unsafe as it fails to meet whatever future regulations or protective devices that will be introduced.
I think the OP's issue is with systems that are being repaired or maintained and they fail on some aspect like high Zs which is a design issue, and not a fault that is easily rectified by, say, finding fixing some poor CPC connection.

That was the sort of point I was trying to make in my rather rambling post earlier, to try and assess what the real danger is from the observed discrepancies with the current regs and explain it in writing so whoever supervises the system is able to make an informed decision.

For example:
  • If I checked a circuit and found Zs to be 10% above the table in the regs then I would not be too worried about switching it back on as the added risk is fairly small (but it is still worthy of C2 in an EICR style report).
  • However, if Zs is so high it may not disconnect at all, or might start a fire as cables can't handle the fault current/I2t then I would not be willing to switch back on. This is basically not so far from the C1 case in BPG #4 where you have supply reversed polarity so essentially all line-only OCPD is useless.
I meant a fault condition or hazard like below


Overheating at main board

RCDs not operational

Zl's way out of whack

Live metalwork


Of course standards evolve as is happening now with all the changes to main boards and final circuit protection , wouldn't consider older installations unsafe just because they're to earlier standards
 
OP
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The question is "How unsafe?"
  • No system or installation operating at usable levels of power for domestic and industrial plant is completely safe.
  • Today if (in the UK) you follow the 18th edition of the BS 7671 regulations then it is deemed to be safe enough.
  • A site installed 30-40 years ago was deemed to be safe then, today it would be seen as unacceptable for a new install but (generally) we don't simply switch them off.
  • Probably in 30-40 years time what we discuss now will be considered unsafe as it fails to meet whatever future regulations or protective devices that will be introduced.
I think the OP's issue is with systems that are being repaired or maintained and they fail on some aspect like high Zs which is a design issue, and not a fault that is easily rectified by, say, finding fixing some poor CPC connection.

That was the sort of point I was trying to make in my rather rambling post earlier, to try and assess what the real danger is from the observed discrepancies with the current regs and explain it in writing so whoever supervises the system is able to make an informed decision.

For example:
  • If I checked a circuit and found Zs to be 10% above the table in the regs then I would not be too worried about switching it back on as the added risk is fairly small (but it is still worthy of C2 in an EICR style report).
  • However, if Zs is so high it may not disconnect at all, or might start a fire as cables can't handle the fault current/I2t then I would not be willing to switch back on. This is basically not so far from the C1 case in BPG #4 where you have supply reversed polarity so essentially all line-only OCPD is useless.
Thanks PC1966 I know I’m probably overthinking it and getting a lot into the legalities but in these situations is it best to get everything documented in writing and if it did come down to it would cover you?
 
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pc1966

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Thanks PC1966 I know I’m probably overthinking it and getting a lot into the legalities but in these situations is it best to get everything documented in writing and if it did come down to it would cover you?
Always document what you do and find. Notes taken down, photos on camera, etc, for all jobs if you can and not just cases the worry you. It comes in handy for any reports you need to write or customer questions that may come later, such as checking parts to quote for remedial actions, etc.

Of course if there are situations that bother you then take extra care and don't be afraid to ask for advice from other sparks as well. At some point it comes down to a judgment call on what is 'safe enough' not to lose sleep over, and if you can tell those in charge of any decisions what the risks are and how serious they might be then I expect the majority will take your advice and either leave it off, or plan for remedial action if it is not posing an imminent danger.

But if you do have the horrible feeling that someone is going to ignore you on something you are really not happy with then generally either the H&S executive can be informed (industrial) or the local authorities (shops, pubs, etc), but check here for any odd cases:
At the very least you have then both informed the installation owner/operator of the risks in writing and passed on concerns about their attitude to safety to the body ultimately responsible for any enforcement action.
 
OP
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Always document what you do and find. Notes taken down, photos on camera, etc, for all jobs if you can and not just cases the worry you. It comes in handy for any reports you need to write or customer questions that may come later, such as checking parts to quote for remedial actions, etc.

Of course if there are situations that bother you then take extra care and don't be afraid to ask for advice from other sparks as well. At some point it comes down to a judgment call on what is 'safe enough' not to lose sleep over, and if you can tell those in charge of any decisions what the risks are and how serious they might be then I expect the majority will take your advice and either leave it off, or plan for remedial action if it is not posing an imminent danger.

But if you do have the horrible feeling that someone is going to ignore you on something you are really not happy with then generally either the H&S executive can be informed (industrial) or the local authorities (shops, pubs, etc), but check here for any odd cases:
At the very least you have then both informed the installation owner/operator of the risks in writing and passed on concerns about their attitude to safety to the body ultimately responsible for any enforcement action.
So as long as the information is documented and line manager/supervisor is aware. By us turning on the machine we would not be classed as negligent as we have reported the potential dangers ie potentially dangerous and been told to switch it on?
 

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