Well, the title’s a bit of an exaggeration – but pre-use checks may have prevented a potentially embarrassing accident / fire / death. I know – it’s not quite got the same ring to it…
Those of you who know me will probably be aware that I recently passed my NEBOSH General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety and I am eagerly awaiting approval as a Technical Member of IOSH. It’s actually a lot more interesting and much more common-sense than people tend to think.
Anyway, a few weeks back, a neighbour saw me cutting our front hedge with my trusty old hedge clippers – good old fashioned tools with no engine but my 24-inch pythons (OK, more like 14, but what’s 10 inches between friends, eh?).
With a very modern lack of comprehension as to why someone might enjoy a bit of manual work, the neighbour offered me a cobweb-covered old electric hedge trimmer from her garage. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I accepted, of course.
So yesterday, while working on the garden, we decided to use the new trimmers to do the hedges.
What’s the first thing to do before starting work? That’s right: have a brew.
That done, I got to work and carried out an inspection of the equipment.
Now, when I said I’m “not one to look a gift horse in the mouth”; that was a complete lie. I got out my ACME equine dentist kit and proceeded to give the old nag a thorough once-over.
The plug looked fine – no external damage and the cord grip was secure
The housing of the equipment was intact; no damage.
There was a bit of electrical tape around the flex… Hmmm… Further inspection needed, methinks.
It seems that someone had run into a little trouble and cut through the power cord (probably with the trimmer itself). Whether that person is still alive or not, I have no idea. Anyway, rather than do anything sensible (like have it repaired by a professional or chuck it in the bin), the next user simply twisted the two wires together and taped the whole thing up – leaving the two cores to short-circuit. Oh dear.
Onwards with the inspection (next stop: Plug Town). As you would probably expect with such an awful “repair” job, the fuse had blown. No problem for our intrepid garden genius, it would seem, as when I opened up the plug housing, the fuse had been wrapped in silver foil and replaced.
Now, while a fuse is technically not there to protect people, it is there to protect equipment (including mains electrical installations) from things like “exploding” and “catching on fire”; things which tend to be fairly dangerous to people too.
So inspection complete, faults identified, I stuck in a new fuse, removed the length of broken wire and re-connected the rest of the wire to the equipment housing (so there were no breaks in the cable). Then I ran a little test – and everything was in order.
So, my job as Household Health and Safety Manager done, I gave the hedge trimmer to my partner and watched, proud of my good work, as she didn’t get set on fire or die while she trimmed our hedges.
Job’s a good ‘un. Time for another brew, I think.
Chris Oliver, self-appointed Household Health and Safety Manager