Portable Appliance Testing (PAT), involves checking and ensuring the safety of portable appliances. This is to reduce accidents that happen at home or places of work every year because of faulty portable appliances. This essential process is carried out to ensure they are safe to use for persons coming into direct and indirect contact with any part of the appliance.
Is PAT testing a legal requirement?
While PAT testing is not a legal requirement, it is an essential procedure that ensures organisations adhere to different regulations required by several governing bodies. This is primarily because it is the legal responsibility for an organisation to ensure the safety of its employees. Therefore, if the employees use electrical equipment, it should be safe and well maintained. Nonetheless, it is mandatory in other countries such as Australia and New Zealand.
Why is PAT needed?
Electrical appliances are prone to degradation and failure due to a number of factors. This may be due to consistent use, part failure or mishandling among others. This has the effect of making them unsafe for those handling them. Thus, it is important to consistently check the appliances to ensure they have not been damaged or cause any potential hazards to the employees using them.
Who is responsible for the testing?
While the assumption may be that PAT testing can only be carried out by a qualified electrician, this is not always the case. Anybody deemed competent enough can carry out the tests. Therefore, organisations have a number of different options available to them. Some of the organisations may prefer to outsource their PAT testing to outside firms due to a variety of reasons. This may be because they do not have the necessary resources or man power to go around testing appliances.
In addition, they may see it as necessary to seek the services of outside companies in high risk environments, and thus may want a person with the right equipment, who will understand and interpret the results accurately. However, this may be expensive. This is especially because some of the defects can be detected easily through visual examination. A better option is to combine the efforts of your staff and an outside firm. For example, your employees can undergo simple training to perform visual inspections, while the external company can visit at scheduled intervals to do thorough and more formal tests depending on the type of equipment used.
How frequently do you require to do PAT testing?
It is a common misconception that PAT testing should be done on a yearly basis. This is not true since the frequency of testing depends on some factors. Some of the most important factors to consider are the risk levels posed by the environment and who interacts with the equipment. For example, some working environments such as heavy construction sites are considered risky when compared to office environments. Therefore, the testing frequency of appliances in high risk environments will be higher than those in low risk environments. If you are not sure where your work environment risk level falls, then you can look it up from the IET Code of Practice, which also estimates the time frames required for inspection and testing.
What are some of the tests carried out?
Some of the common tests carried out may include checking for frayed wires, earth continuity, damaged casings, lead polarity, insulation resistance or damaged plugs among others. If such faults are found on the appliances, a course of action such as repairs or replacements will be necessary to ensure the appliances are safe for use. It is important to label the tested appliances for easier tracking in the future.