There are a number of changes with the main one "an explanation of the risk based assessment required to determine frequencies between inspection and testing". Having spent the last few hours reading this document in detail and comparing it with the 3rd Edition, these are my observations on this point. (There will be further posts in the next few days on the other changes).
1. Table 7.1 has changed. There is the addition of Fixed Equipment to the table. In terms of frequency of testing this mostly fits in between IT and Moveable equipment, with some exceptions. In the main, the periods have been extended - ie more time between inspection and testing. For example, in factories the period for inspecting hand held Class I items has been relaxed from 1 month to 6 months.
2. There is a whole new section on "risk-based assesments". This uses wordy Health and Safety jargon to pass the responsibility for determining the frequency of inspection and testing to the duty holder. In Edition 3 of the COP this was explained more succintly as follows.
"Table 7.1 provides guidance on initial frequencies of inspection and testing. The frequency of inspection and testing depends on the factors above ie any circumstances that may affect the safety of the equipment".
In my view, the relaxation in Table 7.1 is wholly negated by passing the buck to the duty holder. Any responsible duty holder is going to take a worst case view and test more frequently to be on the safe side of Health and Safety law.
3. Table 7.1 contains some anomalies.
3.1 If equipment used by the public is of Class I construction, then the advise is to carry out a Formal Visual Inspection weekly. However, if it is of Class II construction, then the advise is to only inspect it every 6 months. In my view, Class II equipment is likely to develop a frayed cable or a cracked plug just as easily as Class I equipment.
3.2 The same applies for schools with Class I equipment having to be inspected every 6 months, but Class II equipment only every 12 months.
3.3 Items supplied to guests in hotels is to be classed as equipment used by the public. (This was the same in Edition 3). Table 7.1 requires these items, such as hairdryers, fridges and kettles to be formally visually inspected every week and the results recorded ! Most hotels would see their profits disappear in a mountain of paperwork. In my view there was an opportunity to correct this in Edition 4 which has been missed.
In summary, although much seems to have changed in the 4th Edition and I have been parted from my hard earned £48.40, in essence, nothing has changed. It is still upto the duty holder to work out the frequency of inspection and testing in their workplace.