When you think about it, electricity is a wonderful thing! It is also rather mysterious, and we barely stop to think about where it comes from, or how it gets to us. We know it is generated in power stations, ad carried to use by a vast network of cables that criss-cross the land, but what happens then?
Those cables take the electricity to a network of substations. Each substation serves a certain area – or in some cases, a large building – and it is one of the most important aspects of the system.
The electricity that is carried by the cables is of a very high voltage – much higher than that used domestically or even commercially. The purpose of a substation, which includes – among other things – transformers – is to reduce the voltage level to that which can be used in the home or office.
The problem with substations is that, while essential, they are also very dangerous, and they do need regular maintenance and attendance. While essentially unmanned, there are people who need to be within them at all times, and this is where the dangerous element occurs.
Dangers of Substations
The inherent danger of any substation is in the high-voltage equipment that is present. This is something that simply cannot be overcome, and these are places that are never 100% safe. However, there are certain procedures that can be implemented in order to ensure that safety is of the highest order.
One is to make sure that only authorised personnel are ever allowed to enter a substation. This can be done by using the lockout-tagout, or LOTO, routine. LOTO involves a set procedure in which one designated person – and solely that person – is permitted to open the access to the substation. This is done by a set of locks and a special tag, and it is fool proof as it cannot be over-ridded.
Personnel entering a substation should also be required to wear protective clothing. This should be adequate to protect against fire, against electric shock and any other potential dangers. This is a requirement that should never be overlooked.
Also, there is the use of PAT testers in the substation environment, so let’s talk some more about what that is all about.
PAT and Substations
What is PAT? It stands for Portable Appliance Testing, and it is the procedure that you may have used to certify appliances in your office as safe for use. It involves a visual check, as well as the use of devices known as PAT testers, which is what we are interested in for substation use.
A PAT tester is a device that measures a variety of readings. They come in various forms. Some are simple multimeters that you may have used, for example, when dealing with your auto electrics. Others are more sophisticated, and these are the ones that may be used in the substation environment – look for them at PAT Testers.
The PAT tester is a vital piece of equipment in a substation, and for safety, as it can be used to test if there are any inherent faults or problems that need to be attended to. If there is, for example, higher voltage – or amps, or resistance that is of concern – than there should be, then the meter will be able to show the operative, who can then tale precautions against it.
Your authorised personnel should be trained in the use of a PAT tester, and this can be done via one of the many training courses available. In all cases, ensuring the safety of personnel in the substation environment is something that you should make sure is done to the highest degree.