The potential dangers when performing electrical testing are some of the first issues to be addressed when learning the relevant techniques and practises. Wether you’re a professional electrician or a keen amateur, safety is paramount and as such remains one of the most commonly discussed topics in the industry. Despite this, many people still persist in potentially harmful approaches to testing, often due to carelessness or lack of knowledge.

We’ve assembled a list of 5 common mistake which often lead to unsafe electrical testing environments, with the intention of helping you become safer and better informed.

Using the Wrong Instrument for the Job

Ensuring you’re using a properly rated instrument in the course of your job is critical when looking to avoid dangerous incidents or injury. Every year deaths occur due to avoidable mistakes when working with electrical equipment; making sure your instruments possess the correct CAT rating for the job at hand is one step you can take to minimise risk.

CAT rating refers to the ability of an electrical testing instrument to withstand a voltage spike, offering a specific level of resistance and protection to the user. These ratings are broken down into 4 categories: CAT I, II, III and IV. Each category offers a higher level of protection according to its rating, with CAT I rated instruments intended for use with smaller electronic devices and CAT IV rated instruments for high-energy applications which are typically closer to the energy source, such as where power enters a building.

Each instrument which requires this protection will have a specified CAT rating, allowing you to evaluate the suitability of the tool for the job at hand. Make sure your instrument is rated to offer the necessary degree of protection from dangerous surges.

Using the Cheapest Equipment You Can Find

Future proofing can be a great way to avoid risks before they present themselves. Modern electrical testing equipment from leading brands often feature an impressive array of safety features, which makes them a better investment than their older or cheaper counterparts. 

For most people cost is one of the biggest considerations when making a purchasing decision. However, making sure you give yourself sufficient protection should be your primary concern when selecting an instrument. Ensure you’re selecting a well reviewed and trusted brand with adequate user protection, don’t just settle for the cheapest option.

Here at Test Meter, we offer only the best brands and highest quality products. You can browse our full selection of electrical testing product here.

Failing to Use Lockout/Tagout Safety Procedures

Lockout tagout (LOTO) is a common safety precaution intended to avoid dangerous reactivation of energy sources during work. The LOTO procedure typically involves isolating and rendering any inoperative energy sources through the use of a lock (such as an attachable padlock) and a tag identifying the source as purposefully inoperative. This process ensures that the energy source cannot be accidentally turned back on during in work, reducing the risk of reintroducing live current into a circuit which is being worked upon.

The LOTO practise is used widely across multiple industries and is considered best practise by those looking to work as safely as possible. LOTO kits are a cheap and sensible option for anyone performing electrical testing or maintenance.

Bad Test Leads

Using quality test leads is a key part of operating safely when conducting electrical testing. Typically, if your instrument was supplied by a quality brand it will be supplied with test leads of the appropriate CAT rating and offering suitable protection. However, if you’re considering replacing your leads in the course of an instrument’s life you must ensure you’re purchasing suitable replacements. Double insulation, shrouded input connectors, finger guards and construction using a non-slip material are all imperative features when considering new test leads.

Avoiding Regular Calibration

Without regular calibration, instruments become unreliable and cannot be guaranteed to be providing readings and data within acceptable error ranges. Not only do you rely on your instruments to deliver reliable readings in the course of their use, but other professionals and end users rely on the work completed on the basis of their readings to be safely completed. A poorly calibrated instrument produces poor results, which can not only reduce the performance of systems, but also put them at risk of unsafe operation. 

Avoid putting yours and others safety at risk by completing regular calibration on all electrical testing equipment. You can find out more about Test Meter’s calibration offering here.

It’s easy to forget some of the less obvious steps in keeping yourself and others as a safe as possible. We’re hopeful that if you’ve ever found yourself neglecting some of the aforementioned precautions and practises, that this list can serve as a helpful reminder to always consider safety first. If you need any advice on how our products can help keep you safe, feel free to get in touch with our knowledgable sales team.