Over the last few years, we have been slowly bringing to the attention of UK Government departments, Public Sector and Local Authorities, evidence that simply relying on applying a ‘PAT Test procedure’ to imply that refurbished, reconditioned or reused Electrical Appliances are safe is a misnomer.
We accept that It has its place, but sadly it can so easily lend itself to abuse from Rogue Traders, those with little or no technical depth and other repairers who are simply out to make a quick buck from unknowing consumers. As a result we think it’s time for unity across the UK and the EU, as most people are unaware of the fact that there is no ‘mandatory’ requirement to be ‘qualified’ to service, repair or refurbish white goods. In fact anyone can essentially attempt to repair such Appliances without any accountability. We believe consumers deserve a standard they can trust and one that is in their best interests, environmentally, financially and also delivers social benefits.
The above is further compounded by the fact that PAT Testing procedures being advised to be applied, were in fact designed for checking the ‘electrical safety’ of equipment used in the ‘workplace’ and therefore not specifically designed to suit the diverse issues and requirements that can be encountered in refurbishment, reconditioned or reused Electrical Appliances. It’s even more important where goods have been retrieved from the Waste Stream, as they are returned to reuse through a Tick Box Protocol. This is known as PAS141 or 142 but in White Goods Repair it is not fit for purpose as the correct tests for complete safety, no proven depth of knowledge required, is not holistic, is not the most efficient energy method, has no recognised certification or qualification requirement and does not take into account every home is a different electrical environment.
We are big advocates of Reuse and Repair and in an effort to address the specific areas of weakness in the above, we seek to embed a more detailed and sector specific Standard through EEESafe Registration that’s also connected to our LocalitEEE Community Platform. It’s here that interception of Fire Risks and monitoring of Repair Standards reside. We hope this will encourage more Safe Reuse and Repair through a Trusted and independent Brand.
To this end EEESafe operates a process of Registration for a Competent Persons Standard, evidenced by Insurance Cover, correct equipment ownership for Testing, Calibration Certs and evidence of current Repairing in White Goods. It also captures Safety Readings ensuring that Repairs are left in a safe state and where Refurbished Appliances are installed, again evidencing the goods are safer to use in the home, than when not carried out by the EEESafe Standard.
We also operate an independent National Appliance Safety Register, that is geared not only to providing a free Product Recall Service, that an EEESafe Repairer promotes, but also assists in reducing repair costs. It does this by providing access to Tested Recycled/Farmed spares that both helps to prevent waste and reduce the need for many consumers who may end up in debt. Due to the lack of many spares or purchase cost of expensive new parts, many will feel compelled or pressured to buy a whole new product even when personal finances are restricted.
Understandably manufacturers tend not like this, as they want to always sell new which is increasingly difficult due to shortage of raw materials internationally and financial restrictions of many would be purchasers. Sadly the latter problem is often compounded by the offer of high interest hire purchase or leasing options being offered which can easily lead to a downward debt spiral.
Finally, we operate under licence a Certified EEESafe White Goods repair course that delivers more community repairers, working to the highest standard available on a local basis to once again offer lower costs of repair. Courses may be run locally and bespoke, but also potentially delivered by Approved EEESafe Training centres using our Existing Training Materials. Collaboration is ongoing with an Awarding Body to discuss the potential of a Qualification.
Current Trading Standards Guidance.
Governments in the UK are now committed to policies and strategies for Reuse and Repair which will inevitably lead to an increase in Repaired and Refurbished Appliances. As indicated above this will in many cases be carried out by people without any formal certification, qualification or proven depth of knowledge of White Goods repair. Given the fires, accidents and fatalities reported that are attributable to White Goods, and the lack of timely responses from Manufacturers, we believe the EEESafe Standard and services are worthy of implementation as they allow consumers to take some comfort when purchasing White Goods repair services or Refurbished, Recycled or ReUsed appliances.
Current Guidance from Trading Standards are potentially unsafe when it advises on what consumers should do when purchasing used Electrical Appliances. Lets quote from one Local Authority, but remember other LA’s will likely promote the same guidance.
The following guidance is given in an online Trading Standards document called “Electrical Equipment”, where it relates to selling an Electrical Item and the advice is “You should employ a qualified electrician to check the electrical items you intend to sell. “
However, may we suggest that you consider if such a brief comment is the correct and safest guidance to give. Especially in light of the above the increasing repair strategies and and flagrant disregard of Rogue Traders. We have previously promoted and communicated to Government, our on-line Technical Article HERE This demonstrates the need for a depth of knowledge on Appliance Repairs and Refurbishment to safely effect a safe repair on White Goods appliances.
We are not too sure if consumers, Trading Standards and your fellow workers are aware an ‘Electrician’ is not required to know anything about appliance function, construction or circuitry when gaining their sector specific qualifications, and as such cannot automatically be deemed to possess the depth of knowledge required to satisfactorily PAT Test major Whitegoods Appliances. Once again this is further compounded by the fact that essentially ‘anyone’ can become a ‘qualified’ PAT Tester irrespective of having any pre-existing electrical depth of knowledge at all. This has resulted in a plethora of PAT courses being offered which are usually of only one or two days duration at the end of which a City & Guilds or equivalent qualification can be gained!! May we suggest to Trading Standards and the Government that they enter “pat testing training courses” into your search engine and check out a few of the many sites for yourselves and how easy it is to become a ‘qualified’ PAT tester.
We think that the given the above information supplied by Trading Standards, it remains questionable as to whether the correct guidance is being given.
The Call to Trading Standards.
We therefore call on Trading Standards and Product Regulators at the Dept of BIS, to review this guidance in the interest of public safety. Although EEESafe has been in existence for over three years we understand that the TS guidance was probably issued well before we existed hence, why we feel that it’s time to review it. At the same time, we do suggest CTSI considers placing an interim set of guidance to increase current safety for all households. In particular the Rental Sector and Social Landlords, who are directly responsible for their tenants. We could only expect this to be considered if they are in agreement that an Electrician does not necessarily have the knowledge to understand how a piece of Test Equipment should best be used to ensure the item is fully safe in all respects.
As an analogy the tread depth of tyre on a motor vehicle at 1.6mm maybe just within the required parameters laid down and therefore ‘compliant’ but it would be inadvisable to buy and run such a vehicle for any length of time especially in adverse road conditions.
At a recent Chief Fire Officers meeting when we presented this point and discussed our reasons for a PAT Test not being sufficient in White Goods and Electrical Reuse guidance, one Fire Chief Officer correctly pointed out that Charities and other Reuse Sectors were compliant with current guidance (as they were reluctant to provide which guidance was being referenced, we presume it was that of CTSi).
Also, Electrical Safety First who correctly advocate that PAT Tests should be conducted in Rented Accommodation every 5 years, do not tell us who should undertake the PAT Test. As mentioned, we know Electricians are not required to have evidence of their knowledge of Appliance Repair Experience. We are still waiting and invite them to engage. However, it may be worth noting that Electrical Safety First although a Registered Charity is part of National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting an organisation which regulates the training and work of electrical enterprises in the UK i.e. ‘Electricians’ not ‘whitegoods service personnel’.
The situation in the UK over the last few years, has brought about increased engagement with Charities who use the PAT test and possibly a Function Test as a means of selling the appliance to raise funds. Reuse Groups and Local Authorities also do the same and yet fail to meet the standard we at EEESafe promote, in the best interests of public safety. In times of Budget Cuts, people look to Reuse and Refurbishment as a means of gaining revenue, but the ever present danger is that Safety may be compromised as a result, and we feel the time has come to review this guidance in order that we have a Safe Circular Economy model that consumers can recognise and trust as being the best available at the time of this published article.
There is a Product Recall review under way, to which we submitted positive suggestions, much of which relates to our Model of course. Our model links to our Community Platform which provides repair leads, waste prevention leads and offers ratings by consumers, that match what we expect in terms of standards specific to appliance safety in the home. We invite those responsible to engage also and ensure us how they are going to intercept Product Recalls in the Online world. This is something we also offer on our LocalitEEE Platform Community Resource Shop, as well as contributions of cash, to every electoral ward community.
We promote training and repairing in the Community, and can through our model and with the right partners, help to create new jobs and embrace existing repairers willing to be accountable and promote a safer standard, trusted by consumers.
May we remind readers that someone died last year in Swansea, believed to be as a result of a Faulty Appliance. If the property was registered to EEESafe, or an EEESafe Repairer had visited the premises recently, we could assist Fire Investigators with helpful information, so that consumers would receive relevant information if there was concern, because all EEESafe DATs are required to submit safety readings when conducting a repair.
We look forward to more on this and ask readers to stay tuned to EEESafe for further updates.