Electrical safety policy

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First discussed on 16th OCtober, we agreed to draft an electrical safety policy. So far we have:


PAT testing

  • but other kit might need approved person?? (The above site sells a train yourself DVD for £60. Probably all common sense, but the DVD would show we have done a course.)
  • pat-testing.info & wikipedia
  • things you use every day at work need to be tested (that's most of makespace, we should consider ourselves a workplace)
  • exemptions for random stuff that is brought in by someone?
  • laptop power supplies - these just need a visual inspection and we are probably OK for individuals to self-check.
  • assume we all take individual responsibility to work out what's needed, and to mention concerns to others if things look unsafe


  • experimental / home made kit - if it’s mains - whole bunch of law. own project, for you to look up (Unless someone really needs high voltage, can we encourage of-the-shelf DC supplies?)
  • maybe we have a list of approved people who can sign PAT tests drawn from FM community
  • might be good to have someone other than the person whose kit it is doing the test


  • We should write a checklist for kit coming in - what to look for ,do you need a PAT test, what to do if you need a test, what to do if you are unsure - Even for personal use. What's OK to bring in, what you might need to think about first.

A related issue is one of the design of electrical distribution: making sure there are appropriate circuit breakers in appropriate places. Many years ago a company I worked for adopted an approach of having a distribution bar above the back of each bench in our lab, with a big switch at one end to allow the whole bench quickly to be switched off in an emergency. These days we can probably do better (RCD breaker for the bench, perhaps?) but I'm not up to date with current best practice. Would also be good to try to arrange that a fault on one workstation doesn't drop out the whole lab. (A panic switch in each room that turns off the bench power would be good. Also ensure that we have separate battery backup for emergency lighting if something takes out the mains.)


Draft Electrical safety checklist

  • What can I bring in?
    • Laptops and laptop power supplies, mobile phone chargers for personal use: fine to bring in. Do a visual safety check yourself before plugging in at makespace.
    • Homemade equipment - talk to someone before bringing it in to work out what needs to be done
    • all power tools; all equipment being donated or loaned to makespace: need PAT testing (see below)
  • What to look for on a visual safety inspection
    • Check for loose cables and scorch marks. Do not use if you can see either!
  • How to do a PAT test
    • Watch the training video if you didn't already
    • use the test equipment
    • if the item under test passes, apply a PAT-tested sticker with your name and the date
  • What to do if you aren't sure
    • email management@makespace.org

Misc notes on electrical safety

  • no unattended charging of non-off-the-shelf Li Ion batteries
  • no use of homemade or non-commercial chargers for Li Ion batteries