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PAT Testing and Public Liability Insurance


BassBunny
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I play in 2 bands and the Corporate one is now increasingly being asked for PAT Testing Certificates and Public Liability Insurance. Anyone else having the same issues?
The Pub Band don't seem to have the same problem, (but as all my gear has been PAT tested it isn't a problem anyway).
Would it be an idea for a pinned topic with a list of testers in areas around UK as I have a feeling it WILL end up being mandatory at some point?
We had a hell of a job finding someone to our gear as most companies deal with large institutions and not a 5 piece band.

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[quote name='BassBunny' post='53412' date='Aug 31 2007, 03:20 PM']I play in 2 bands and the Corporate one is now increasingly being asked for PAT Testing Certificates and Public Liability Insurance. Anyone else having the same issues?
The Pub Band don't seem to have the same problem, (but as all my gear has been PAT tested it isn't a problem anyway).
Would it be an idea for a pinned topic with a list of testers in areas around UK as I have a feeling it WILL end up being mandatory at some point?
We had a hell of a job finding someone to our gear as most companies deal with large institutions and not a 5 piece band.[/quote]

Almost every theatre gig I've done has involved a contract specifying PAT testing but, as you say, pubs don't seem to bother (yet?).

The going rate seems to be £3.00 - £3.50 per item. Leastways, that's what we've ended up paying. LOL

I agree that most people you approach are not really geared up to be PAT testing gear for a 5 piece band and that this should indeed be a pinned topic.

Same comments apply to the Public Liability Insurance issue too.

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I played in a wedding/function band and the only time we were asked for Liability Insurance
was when we played in Ramada hotel chain premises, in the social clubs we played and other
hotels we were told the responsibility was with the venue.
Bear in mind I've only ever played in Scotland so don't know if the law differs in England/Wales.

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Sorry to go off on a bit of a tangent here, but I'd like to relate my own little PAT testing story.

For many years, my partner ran the Wardrobe dept that served the Theatre Design courses at a major London college of Art. In the years before PAT testing entered our lives, during each summer break all the workshop machines were checked for electrical safety by the college's own qualified electricians, and as a result there were never any incidents involving electrical safety issues.

Then the whole PAT testing thing arrived, and the college authorities paid outside companies to come in and provide the necessary certification tests. In the first week of the new academic year, my partner sat down to use one of the industrial sewing machines. The moment she turned on the motor, it cut out. "Strange," she thought. "...it was working perfectly well when we last used it, and it now has a PAT test certificate proving that it's OK."

Before deciding to report it as faulty, she asked me if I would pop in and give it a quick look-over, just in case she'd missed anything obvious. At first I couldn't find anything amiss either - until I checked the fuse in its plug.

An industrial sewing machine has a large, powerful motor. Once it is up to normal running speed, it draws 2 Amps. However, like all motors, when it is first switched on it draws a very large inrush current for a fraction of a second. For this reason, all such motorised machines should be fitted with an over-rated fuse to cope with the inrush current. The PAT testing 'expert', whose services had been bought in at considerable expense, having read the "2 Amps" rating printed on the side of the motor, had removed the 13 Amp fuse from the plug and replaced it with a 2 Amp fuse!

He had been trained to follow a set of basic procedures using a PAT testing machine, but beyond that, he had no electrical qualifications at all, and not the first idea about how electricity actually works.

In the end, the department's own Stage Management crew, who were properly qualified, had to go round and double-check every piece of gear in the place.

Moral: Unless it is undertaken by a fully qualified electrician, PAT testing is no more than a bureaucratic box-ticking exercise.

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[quote name='Oxblood' post='53634' date='Aug 31 2007, 11:01 PM']Moral: Unless it is undertaken by a fully qualified electrician, PAT testing is no more than a bureaucratic box-ticking exercise.[/quote]
I thought everything these days was a bureaucratic box ticking - and we are the mugs paying for the tickers.

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It is worth joining the MU as you get your public liabilty as part of the deal, plus £1000 musical instrument insurance - I think it costs about £100.

You are supposed to supply a PAT certificate, not just have your gear stickered up BTW. I get asked all the time and more often than not they never bother to check - they are just being a bit jobswothy IMO. A good and cheap option is to just buy new IEC leads (where apropriate) as you can buy them bulk fairly cheaply. Keep the receipt as I belive as long as it less than 12 months old it is expempt, I could be wrong but it makes sense!

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[quote name='bass_ferret' post='53642' date='Aug 31 2007, 11:24 PM']I thought everything these days was a bureaucratic box ticking - and we are the mugs paying for the tickers.[/quote]
At least if the gear is safe, your ticker will still be going. :)

There are two issues here

1) Is your gear safe, and

2) Have you jumped through the hoops that your client requires.

Assuming that you have not dropped your gear, most electrical faults will occur at the plug or equipment end of the mains cable, and 90% of them will be visible, i.e. brown and blue wires showing, smashed plug-tops etc. If the gear has been damaged in transit, it will probably rattle if you turn it a quarter turn in any direction. The chances of gear becoming dangerous, with no visible or audible signs, is fairly remote.

If you have electricity flowing through you it will probably hurt. If the peak of the mains frequency passes through your heart muscles at the wrong time, your heart could stop. The Health and Safety Executive statistics from a few years ago showed that of all the electical incidents they investigated, once you had all the threads of a potential accident in place, the odds of it being fatal were about 1:30. If you use damaged gear, you are effectively playing russian roulette with one live bullet in 30, night after night after night...

Local authorities now insist that venues have earth-leakage circuit breakers (RCDs) on sockets. This senses the current gong down the brown wire, and compares it with the current coming back on the blue wire. If the current is not coming back, e.g. because it is flowing through you, the circuit trips. However, to be safe, these devices need to trip at a low current, and quickly, but the test button does not test how fast it trips, so relying on an RCD is not a good idea.

As mentioned elsewhere, the system is not perfect, but in summary, if you check you gear after every gig, and get it tested once or twice a year, you can satisfy your clients, and live long enough to become a rock legend.

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[quote name='BassBunny' post='53412' date='Aug 31 2007, 03:20 PM']I play in 2 bands and the Corporate one is now increasingly being asked for PAT Testing Certificates and Public Liability Insurance. Anyone else having the same issues?
The Pub Band don't seem to have the same problem, (but as all my gear has been PAT tested it isn't a problem anyway).
Would it be an idea for a pinned topic with a list of testers in areas around UK as I have a feeling it WILL end up being mandatory at some point?
We had a hell of a job finding someone to our gear as most companies deal with large institutions and not a 5 piece band.[/quote]
Lot of common sense replies here, especially those that point out the absurdity of the 'box-ticking' culture we now find ourselves living and working in!

The MU does provide members with Public Liability Insurance (PLI) up to £10 Million via it's insurance company partners, Hencilla Canworth. For a cost of £125, I joined the MU again recently (after not having been a member for 12 years) because I needed to get the free PLI and because I wanted to get the equipment insurance benefits the membership offers as well, which is free insurance for £1000 worth of gear. I then paid an extra £95 to Hencilla Canworth for insurance on another £4000 worth of equipment.

To put that into context, I asked my present home insurance company to insure my equipment outside of the house and they wanted £300!! To buy PLI for myself would cost anywhere upwards of £200 I expect.. So, joining the MU has saved me hundreds of pounds and I'm fully covered now, which is a relief...

..All except for this ridiculous 'jobsworth' PAT testing fiasco! And it is a fiasco because it is encouraging people not to be more safety conscious, but to find ways to buck yet another system.

I agree that making a 'sticky' around this topic could be very useful, especially as it will get worse rather than better..

What P***** me off most though is the fact that musicians are always being treated like brainless, second-class citizens... You only have to analyse the pathetic reasons why most insurance companies refuse musicans car insurance, to find absolute proof of that blatant discrimination!

Must calm down now and get off my soap-box. :)

Nik

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[quote name='Oxblood' post='53634' date='Aug 31 2007, 11:01 PM']Sorry to go off on a bit of a tangent here, but I'd like to relate my own little PAT testing story.

For many years, my partner ran the Wardrobe dept that served the Theatre Design courses at a major London college of Art. In the years before PAT testing entered our lives, during each summer break all the workshop machines were checked for electrical safety by the college's own qualified electricians, and as a result there were never any incidents involving electrical safety issues.

Then the whole PAT testing thing arrived, and the college authorities paid outside companies to come in and provide the necessary certification tests. In the first week of the new academic year, my partner sat down to use one of the industrial sewing machines. The moment she turned on the motor, it cut out. "Strange," she thought. "...it was working perfectly well when we last used it, and it now has a PAT test certificate proving that it's OK."

Before deciding to report it as faulty, she asked me if I would pop in and give it a quick look-over, just in case she'd missed anything obvious. At first I couldn't find anything amiss either - until I checked the fuse in its plug.

An industrial sewing machine has a large, powerful motor. Once it is up to normal running speed, it draws 2 Amps. However, like all motors, when it is first switched on it draws a very large inrush current for a fraction of a second. For this reason, all such motorised machines should be fitted with an over-rated fuse to cope with the inrush current. The PAT testing 'expert', whose services had been bought in at considerable expense, having read the "2 Amps" rating printed on the side of the motor, had removed the 13 Amp fuse from the plug and replaced it with a 2 Amp fuse!

He had been trained to follow a set of basic procedures using a PAT testing machine, but beyond that, he had no electrical qualifications at all, and not the first idea about how electricity actually works.

In the end, the department's own Stage Management crew, who were properly qualified, had to go round and double-check every piece of gear in the place.

Moral: Unless it is undertaken by a fully qualified electrician, PAT testing is no more than a bureaucratic box-ticking exercise.[/quote]

Reminds me of Brazil.

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  • 2 weeks later...

[quote name='poptart' post='53654' date='Aug 31 2007, 11:39 PM']A good and cheap option is to just buy new IEC leads (where apropriate) as you can buy them bulk fairly cheaply. Keep the receipt as I belive as long as it less than 12 months old it is expempt, I could be wrong but it makes sense![/quote]

Any piece of equipment doesn't need to be PAT tested until it is more than 12 months old. Instead of PAT stickers, you affix a 'this is new equipment' sticker with the date.

Once it's necessary to PAT test something, if the IEC mains lead is tested at the same time as the piece of equipment it plugs into, the lead is given an ID and is certified for 5 years (the same as the piece of equipment that it relates to). An IEC lead by itself, not associated with a piece of equipment, is only in-test for a period of 12 months until it is done again.

If you have something like a wall wart or a laptop-type DC power supply, it can't be PAT tested. The best the sparkies can do is append a visual inspection sticker.

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Public Liability Insurance: If you're an MU member, you're covered. You also get £1000 worth of gratis kit insurance cover. Worth joining just for those two.
PAT: Fully qualified electricians are usually the worst, in my experience, at doing the "down-rate the fuse" trick. I'm a fully qualified electronics technician, and also hold the appropriate C&G cert for PAT testing. The cert is a good thing to have, but can be got by someone with no other elctrical knowledge, which is rank insanity. I spent 3 weeks going round our factory once, upgrading fuses downrated by a fully qualified sparks who really should have known better. And Electricians, at that time, had no formal PAT test training anyway...
And, what Homer said about venues - if they can't produce THEIR installation test certs, there's no need for yours either. And there is no, repeat no, legal requirement for anyone to have PAT testing done anyway. It was introduced in order that companies such as the one I worked for could shift blame for electrical accidents to the PAT tester, who takes full responsibility for initialling that label.

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Hmm, I saw the MU at the LGS and never thought much of it...
As a student is it worth joining (60 quid a year)?
I looked at their benefits of joining but its all gobble dee gook to me..
can someone gimme a quick list of pros of joining.

The insurance looks like a good idea.. i will be taking roughly 1000 pounds of instrument and accessories to Uni with me.

Cheers
Ash

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[quote name='wazz' date='Aug 31 2007, 05:31 PM' post='53508']
I am in north london and I use [url="http://www.ypt-ltd.co.uk/"]http://www.ypt-ltd.co.uk/[/url].
They come to my house and are happy to test the 25 or 30 tems I have.

MB1. :)
+1
Captain Black! This is indeed the voice of the Mysterons.

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Definatley worth joining the MU if you are gigging regularly. The insurance is a great benefit, but there are others. They are after all our Union and can act as a mouth piece for all musicians needs.

If you're doing many semi-pro gigs It's also worth getting your kit PAT tested, I know it's a worry that it might get damaged, but I'd rather mine got damaged during testing than whilst I used it. PAT testing is relativley inexpensive, I think we paid someone £10 then 50p per additional item, he came out in a little van and we got everyone we knew to bring their equipment over. Remember that you need to get all electrical equipment over 1 year old to be tested (this includes extension leads and all those little bits, not just your amp). Any work that I have done for local councils, schools etc always insist on PAT certificates, if they are running a big event they may even offer to do it for you. :)

[quote name='silverfoxnik' post='53697' date='Sep 1 2007, 03:10 AM']What P***** me off most though is the fact that musicians are always being treated like brainless, second-class citizens... You only have to analyse the pathetic reasons why most insurance companies refuse musicans car insurance, to find absolute proof of that blatant discrimination![/quote]

I know these things are a pain in the arse. Perhaps the way to be taken more seriously is to take orurselves more seriously and do things properley, rather than messing around with forged dates and fake PAT stickers? (these will likely invalidate any insurance claim and might explain why insurance rates go up or get refused?).

That's my sentiment any way.

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[quote name='gilmour' post='58398' date='Sep 10 2007, 07:31 PM']I know it's a worry that it might get damaged, but I'd rather mine got damaged during testing than whilst I used it.[/quote]

If the person testing is competent, and they are using proper kit, there's not even the passing possibility of it damaging your kit. At all.

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The Corporate party we are playing at on the 27th requires that we have all our equipment PA tested before we plug anything in - thankfully the facilities manager for the company I work for is qualified and has agreed to test and certify all our equipment prior to the gig, so I get PAT testing for free!

As of the PL insurance - MU all the way, as soon as I can afford it ill be renewing my membership with them.

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  • 3 months later...

Hello, new here :)

Sorry to revive this thread from the depths of time, Im not a bass player but I worked as part of a bass/sax duo for some time if that helps me! Hehe,

I work mostly as a solo act since the bassist I worked with gave up the gigs to run his own business. I have a gig at The Ramada hotel in Maidstone and theyre asking for Public Liability (I have £1m with my MusicGuard gear insurance) and also PAT Testing (no probs have that all sorted) but theyre also mentioning whether I have a "Public Entertainments License" - surely thats down to the venue isnt it? Or is it another thing to add to the list?

It always amazes me how they get away with asking for this stuff when often I get to a hotel and their plugs are hanging off the walls with expose wires, it really suprises me that they want to check if my stuff is safe. Also surely if someone gets drunk because they served them too much booze and falls on my speaker why should my insurance cover it - surely their Public Liability would be responsible!

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