Probably the reason I have started this blog is because of a conversation I had with one of our clients recently.

He called me up to ask if one of his PAT testers is allowed to change a plug, my response is he competent to change a plug?

This left us in a very familiar conversation around how we quantify what is and isn’t competent.

So here is the definition from Oxford dictionary on-line:

“Having the necessary ability, knowledge, or skill to do something successfully”

On our PAT testing course we make it clear that we are not turning people in to electricians in 1 day, we are training people to identify potential problems and dangers with portable appliances, we spend a lot of time on the plug ensuring the candidates:

·         Know the configuration of the wiring (they also have a training aid in colour)

·         Know that the cable sheath should be clamped

·         Know the lengths the live, neutral and earth should be

·         Understand that the conductor should only be in the terminal

·         we ask them to tighten the terminal screws

·         We ask them to check the condition of plug case and pins

·         Ensure pins are insulated around the live and neutral

·         Check the BS number on the plug

If there are any problems, they can fix (if competent) or fail.

Now my personal opinion is that the individual would know whether they are competent or not, if they believe they are competent to do this minor repair and then PAT test it, by this i mean a full visual inspection and use the PAT tester to check for earth continuity and insulation resistance and if applicable polarity.

Surely by following this process, they have confirmed they are competent and the item was safe and they can prove it, if they don’t feel confident, then fail the item and the company get someone else to do the repair or get rid of the item.

In the end the client was almost asking for a certificate in being competent to change a plug, which we don’t do (i also know of no other course in changing a plug), on that note I have also been asked if we do courses on changing light bulbs (we don’t).

I will leave you with this other experience with changing plugs, a large company we train won’t allow there chief maintenance engineer (16th edition qualified electrician) to change a plug because……..he hasn’t completed his 17th edition.

I am all for health and safety but please let’s have a bit of common sense with it.