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Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Edition 4 of the IET code of practice - update 2

The new edition of the IET Code of Practice landed on my desk yesterday. The preview information promised a new section presenting advice on the sale of pre-owned equipment so understandably I was quite excited. This promised to be good news for charity shops.

The section covering second-hand equipment and appliances consists of three small paragraphs.

The first paragraph presents pretty general, common sense information. For example it says "second hand equipment sold for commercial gain must be fit for purpose and safe to use ..." . It pretty much leaves the decision on the level of testing with the duty holder.

The second paragraph says that the absence of the CE mark should not prevent second hand equipment from resale.

The last section is a signpost to sources of information like the Trading Standards.


Having paid £48.40 for the new edition of the COP, it will be an understatement to say that I was disappointed. Here are my views on the advise presented.

1.  Here was a golden opportunity to present some clear practical information on how to evaluate second hand equipment prior to resale. However the COP has not stepped upto the challenge. For example, the information presented here on a Portable Appliance Testing information site is far more practical and available free.

2.  The information relating to the CE mark is potentially dangerous as it does not cover the following situations.

2.1   Appliances designed for use in other countries, such as Australia, Indonesia or India which has been brought over to the UK and a UK plug fitted. This is common practice amongst overseas students. It is conceivable that if the label has worn out or missing, the duty holder will have no idea of the suitability of this appliance for resale.

2.2   The design of appliances have changed over the years. The CE mark shows duty holders that the equipment has been designed and manufactured to the latest standards.

2.3  Some custom made equipment do not have a label with a CE mark as it probably has not been tested for compliance with safety standards. The duty holder will not know the difference between this and appliances where the label has fallen off.

My advice would be "if appliances do not have the CE mark, then do not offer it for resale". In fact I would go further and state that "if the appliance does not have a rating plate then do not offer it for resale". Most duty holders will find this advise to be practical, clear and erring on the side of caution.

In summary, Edition 4 of the Code of Practice seems to have taken a traditional Health & Safety route by passing all responsibility to the duty holder and has missed an opportunity to present clear practical advice.

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