"Intersafe were chosen to carry out the work for several reasons; they are very professional, competitively priced, the engineers are qualified to carry out the service I wanted and most importantly, they are experienced in testing in the lab"
University College London (UCL) is the capital's leading multidisciplinary university, with over 8,000 staff and 22,000 students from over 150 countries.
Intersafe was invited to tender against three other companies in July 2009 to carry out PAT testing for the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research. The company is contracted to test all portable electrical equipment, which amounts to around 4,500 items. Sonia Buckingham, The Institute's Health and Safety Adviser, advised that the items have to be tested as part of a rolling programme, every two years. Intersafe arranged to start testing on a particular day and work through, during normal working hours, until the job was complete.
Sonia Buckingham said: "Intersafe were chosen to carry out the work for several reasons; they are very professional, competitively priced, the engineers are qualified to carry out the service I wanted and most importantly, they are experienced in testing in the laboratory environment."
It is this last criterion that was of vital importance. The engineers carrying out the work must be familiar with research laboratories and the special precautions which have to be taken in this potentially hazardous environment. The Wolfson Institute consists of 10 laboratories, holding approximately 250 people. It is an academic research facility, containing hazardous substances such as viruses, bacteria, chemicals and radioactive substances. Additionally, the laboratories contain very expensive equipment. In order to carry out their work safely, the engineers have to wear protective clothing including lab coats, gloves and eye protection. Food or drink of any kind is also banned.
It is Sonia who organises the contract, co-ordinates the work, communicates with the staff and ensures the safety of the engineers who carry out the testing. As Health and Safety Adviser, it is her responsibility to make sure that the environment is safe not only for the people who use it but also the engineers who carry out the work.Says Sonia: "I have been very happy with the service that Intersafe has provided. The administration is excellent and their follow up is both quick and efficient. We have good communication and a very good working relationship."
Intersafe has been extremely successful in its first year with the Wolfson Institute, and will be asked to tender for a similar job in an adjacent building, the Cancer Institute. This is also a research facility with a sensitive and hazardous environment; the Cancer Institute consists of over 20 laboratories with some smaller rooms and there will be between 2,500 and 3,000 items to test.