The Ministry of Defence has been criticised over a series of failures which contributed to the deaths of two soldiers as they slept in Camp Bastion in Afghanistan.

Private Dean Hutchinson 23, and Private Rob Wood, 28 were killed when fire swept through a logistical centre at the camp in the early hours of February 14th 2011. They were sleeping in the Transport Troop tents, where they could respond quickly when supplies arrived at the camp, sometimes early in the morning.

Witnesses to the fire described smelling smoke coming from an area of the tent, which had a 32 in flat screen television, a water boiler, and a fridge.

The fire NCO, Cpl David Williams described how the boiler, television and fridge were plugged into a white 4-way extension lead, which was then plugged into the blue domestic power unit.

Electrical items in the Transport Troop tent had not been PAT tested, although regulations stated it should have been done. Other witnesses spoke of the dangers of "daisy chaining" multiple extension leads, which had been the cause of a previous fire at Camp Bastion. The dangers of “daisy chaining “ electrical extension leads are poorly understood, but there is a very simple way to understand the danger.

If a 4 way extension lead allows 4 items to be connected, then it is essential that a check is made on the overall loading of the socket.

Putting this in simple terms, an iron, kettle or toaster take around 8 Amps. Therefore, plugging 3 irons into an extension lead equates to 3 x 8 = 24 Amps.

This is obviously more than the recommended 13A loading recommended by the manufacturers. However, the fuse in the extension lead plug will take up to 30 Amps for around ½ hour before it blows. Under certain conditions, this will extend for up to an hour.

The extension lead will work, the irons will work, and all will seem OK, except that the fuse has been damaged internally, and may now not blow at all. This overloading is very common , especially in communal areas such as kitchens, where a brew table is set up with a kettle, toaster, and coffee machine.

Simple visual checks , along with simple maths can prevent this situation from causing a fire. The picture below may help.

Image of a trailing extension socket block
  • KETTLE = 8A
  • IRON = 8A
  • TOASTER = 8A
  • LAMP= 3A

Total = 27A OVERLOAD !!!!!

Simple visual checks, simple maths, simple solution.

The Socket Calculator has been brought to you by Electrical Safety First.

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Why health and safety training is important.

Every year over 200 people die in accidents at work and over a million are injured. More than two million suffer sickness or disease either caused, or worsened by, their employment.

Preventing employment related accidents and ill-health is therefore a key priority for everyone in the workplace.

As the owner or manager of a business you have a legal duty to protect the health and safety of your employees.

Over 1000 prosecutions are pursued through the courts by the HSE each year. 80% of these lead to convictions and with average fines for the guilty exceeding £15,000, Health and Safety negligence is clearly a crime that doesn't pay.

Being pro-active about health and safety is your best defence. Providing Health and Safety training for your staff not only reduces the chances of finding yourself in the dock, it also has positive benefits for your business.

Health and Safety training will:

  1. Help productivity by reducing time off due to injury caused in the work place
  2. Help avoid financial costs of accidents and occupational ill-health
  3. Create goodwill in the workplace by demonstrating your investment in staff
  4. Meet your legal requirement towards the protection of the health and safety of your staff

More about the Law

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 says you must provide whatever information, instruction and training is needed to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of those in your employ.

This is extended by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which identify situations where health and safety training is particularly important, eg for people who new to the workplace, when staff are going to be exposed to new or increased risks and where existing skills may have become rusty or may need updating.

You are obliged to provide training during working hours and not at the expense of your employees. Special arrangements may be needed for part timer workers or those who work on a shift basis.

Clearly this provision has to be taken seriously. However these are difficult times for any business. Whether your organisation is large or small, you will probably find it hard to provide the right training for your staff from within your company. You may well lack the inhouse expertise or find you don't have the time or resources available.

That's where we come. At Midas we have a wealth of training experience across a wide range of business and industry types. We can also supply and train your staff in the use of the most modern industry standard test equipment.

For a free consultation about how we can help your business meet its health and safety obligations, contact us now.

PAT Testing

PAT testing equipment sold by us

There is a legal duty for all employers to make sure that all equipment provided for staff in the course of their employment is safe and will not cause harm. We would not climb a ladder with broken rungs, or drive a vehicle with no brakes, yet many people will use an electrical appliance with damaged cables, or in a generally poor condition.

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Our Training

Midas electronics provide onsite training in all aspects of helth and safety

Midas provides training in all aspects of Health and Safety from Health and Safety Compliance through Noise Level Testing, PAT Testing etc. and we are Official Trainers to the Army. If you want to be able to manage your Health and Safety or testing work in-house, we can provide the necessary training to facilitate this.

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