Testing of Electrical Insulated PPE

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Why relying on visual inspection, or extending test frequencies, just doesn’t stack up.

In the compliance testing space, we see a wide cross-section of approaches to safety and compliance in the markets we serve. We see corner cutters, we see those that do it to the letter of the Standard, Act or Regulation at all times without fail, and then a variety of approaches in between that might work the ‘grey’ areas.

Extending frequencies, or even at times not performing compliance checks on some items at all, may on the surface seem appealing. There is a cost saving (at least, upfront), and even a reduction in inconvenience. Taking an item out of service for its periodic calibration, testing or inspection can be inconvenient. At Mobile Test n Cal we try to minimise that inconvenience with our onsite service, but there’s still a level of interruption, even if minor.

This article isn’t about going too far down that wormhole, it’s to address one specific subset of items that should never, ever, have testing frequencies pushed out or missed completely; Insulated and Dielectric PPE.

  • Insulated Gloves and Sleeves
  • Insulated Mats and Covers
  • Insulated Tools
  • Rescue Kits
  • Hot Sticks / Fuse Pullers
  • Tiger Tails
  • Elevated Working Platforms (these are not PPE, but the same applies)

These items are critical pieces of safety equipment. They keep electrical workers alive. The standards for these items almost always mandate in-service 6 monthly electrical testing, and they do this for very good reason.

These items cannot be visually confirmed as being safe.

It’s that simple, it cannot be done. Show me someone who thinks they can always pick a defective insulated glove with the naked eye, and I will guarantee they will more often than not, pass a glove visually, that fails electrically. The same applies to all other items listed above.

The concept of air-testing gloves instead of electrical tests, or visual testing mats instead of their dielectric test, is downright dangerous. Pushing out frequencies on items where you are only checking for accuracy, and that accuracy is entirely unimportant, can at times have merit. Pushing out test frequencies, or failing to test at all, on safety items designed to keep electrical workers alive, is dangerous.

Please, take safety seriously, and don’t ever replace 6 monthly electrical testing of insulated PPE, with ‘visual tests’, ‘air tests’, 12 monthly testing, or even no testing at all. Someone’s life depends on that item.

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