The answer to this month’s trouble shooter is provided by John Saysell, head of business development & training, MCP Consulting Group Ltd. Q Should I be more aware of Safe Isolation Procedures?

Published:  15 August, 2017

A

The safe isolation (10 point) procedure was formally introduced initially by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) as part of their AM2 Test (Achievement Measurement Test 2) back in 1985. It was (and still is) referred as the “Part C – Safe Isolation of Supplies”

Nowadays the test is being administered by National Electrotechnical Training (NET) and forms the final unit of the Electrotechnical Apprenticeship.

The HSE publication GS38 “Test Equipment for use by Electricians” was first published in 1995 it made reference to “Voltage Test Indicators” and separate “Proving Units” which were first used within the AM2 Test battery. An example of “artificial” assessment procedures informing real world practices.

Just as a reminder, safe isolation procedures are:

• Identify your point of isolation

• Inform the customer that you will be isolating the supply

• Operate the isolator and lock off and fit warning notice

• Select approved test equipment and prove that it is working

• Test on outgoing side of isolation point all combinations

• Re-prove your test equipment is still working

There is evidence that manufacturing may be falling behind the construction industry as far as safe isolation is concerned. Practices within the workplace may be considered as “getting in the way of production” and attitudes to safety may be less focussed.

In a recent multi-national company assessment of personnel, ranging from those with Basic Electrical Skills to Fully Qualified Technicians, it was found that isolations carried out by over 90% of the candidates would be considered as unsafe when compared to the HSE guidelines. A very worrying development regarding the observation of electrical safety in the workplace, especially when these practices have been in existence for 30 years.

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