Why Small Businesses Need to Test Their Electronic Equipment
As a small business owner, you’ve probably purchased some form of insurance, invested in cyber security to protect your customers’ data, and installed a surveillance system for your premises. While you may have put all of these preventative measures in place, you might not have given a lot of thought to your electrical equipment.
Nowadays, the majority of businesses use technology, such as card terminals, computers, and electrical tools, plus kettles, microwaves, vending machines and water coolers in communal areas. This equipment may be used by your employees, customers and members of the public; therefore, it’s vital that these pieces of equipment are regularly tested to ensure the safety of your working environment.
If you’re not really sure what form of testing your business needs, how often you should be testing, or where to start with the process, then not to worry. Read on to find out why electrical testing is essential for small businesses.
Why Do Business Owners Need to Test?
Laws in most countries require employers to provide safe working conditions. For instance, in the UK the 1974 Healthy and Safety Work Act outlines an employer’s responsibility to provide a safe environment, both for their employees and the public. As mentioned, testing equipment helps to make sure that it’s safe to use and ensures that your employees are not working in hazardous, unhealthy conditions.
However, if you regularly upgrade or replace electronics, you may think paying for electrical testing is an unnecessary business expense, but it’s important to point out that just because something is new doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe. In fact, an electrical fault is often hard to detect and may require specialist equipment to highlight any underlying problems.
Types of Electrical Testing
There are lots of different forms of electrical testing, including Electro Magnetic Compatibility (EMC), which measures the level electromagnetism emitted and analyses how equipment interacts with its environment and other appliances; Electrostatic Discharge (ESD), that looks at the amount of static electricity discharged by a device; and Portable Appliance Testing (PAT), which essentially determines the safety of a moveable electrical device.
How Is Equipment Tested?
To test electrical appliances requires the use of specialist equipment. During the testing process, all items are first checked by eye, to make sure there are no visible faults. A series of additional tests are then performed, whereby the appliance’s earth leakage, polarity, and insulation resistance are checked, to make sure that it’s performing as it should.
After electronic equipment has passed testing, it’s then tagged with a label detailing the date of the test, when it will need to be re-tested, and the name of the tester. If an item is found to have an electrical fault, the business owner must then adequately repair and re-test the appliance, or else arrange for its proper disposal.
How Often Should You Test Equipment?
A testing label will include a re-testing date, but how is this determined? As a small business owner, how are you supposed to know how often you need to test appliances?
General guidance recommends that equipment and appliances should be tested regularly, but this phrase can be open to interpretation. Unfortunately, it’s hard to pinpoint an exact timeframe, as depending on the type of business you own and the sort of equipment that is in use, this can mean anything from every few months to every forty-eight months.
Who Can Test Equipment?
When dealing with any electrical issue, small business owners should always seek a professional with relevant knowledge, qualifications and the proper specialist equipment, and testing is no exception. However, the good news is, you can help to keep your business and employees a little safer, as there are small checks you can do yourself to keep your workplace safe and hazard free.
Before using any equipment, make a habit of performing a quick visual check, such as looking for any damage or loose cables/connections. If you notice anything, stop using the item immediately, make sure employees know it’s out of use, and arrange to have the equipment tested by a professional. It’s also a good idea to encourage your staff to carry out regular checks, too.
So, do small businesses need to test electronic equipment? The answer is yes. As a business owner, if your employees use electronic appliance and electrical equipment, testing is just one small part of your responsibility to provide a safe working environment. Always use a professional, remember to re-test regularly, and ensure that any faulty equipment is correctly disposed of or repaired.