What is Portable Appliance Testing?
Portable Appliance Testing is the description for the inspection of the safety of use for electrical equipment.
The inspection consists of a visual inspection of the equipment and an electrical test of the same equipment. Both are important in the inspection and testing due to all electrical faults not being detected just by electrical testing alone. An example would be a damaged casing that exposes the equipment but doesn’t have any fault on the electrical circuits
Visual checks can be undertaken as part of regular maintenance, however electrical testing should be undertaken by a component engineer
Why should I PAT Test?
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 require that any electrical equipment that has the potential to cause injury is maintained in a safe condition
The UK Health and Safety Executive along with insurance companies will expect you to perform PAT testing to ensure that you are compliant with certain regulations including:
- Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974
- The Electricity at Work Regulations of 1989
- The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations of 1998
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations of 2006
Do I need to PAT test new equipment?
There is no formal requirement to test new equipment as it should be provided in a safe working condition. However due to potential damage / complications in transit and delivery it should be part of your routine visual inspections to check if new equipment is free from damage before using
Is Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) Compulsory?
Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is not a firm requirement by law. However the requirement of all electrical equipment being safe for use is part of several regulations.
An employer is required by law to ensure that all electrical equipment is maintained to prevent danger. How that is done is down to the employer?
The requirements on the employer should be part of a risk assessed approach. Equipment that is heavily used or in higher traffic areas might be required to be inspected more often than those used less so
The more often equipment is moved is also a consideration. Visual inspections should be undertaken every time equipment is moved or reused for this reason
The decision on PAT Testing will depend on these factors
How frequently do I need to test my electrical appliances?
There are no requirements for PAT testing frequency, however there are recommendations:
Offices, Shops and Hotels – Class 1 equipment including stationary and IT equipment should be tested every 48 months.
Moveable equipment such as extension leads and portable equipment should be tested every 24 months. Handheld equipment should be tested every 12 months.
Schools – All Class 1 equipment in schools should be PAT tested every 12 months. Class 2 equipment should be tested every 48 months.
Public Use Equipment – Stationary and IT equipment such as computers should be tested every 12 months.
Moveable, Portable and Handheld equipment falling into Class 2 should be tested every 12 months.
Moveable, Portable and Handheld equipment falling into Class 1 should be tested every 6 months.
Construction – All 110V equipment used on construction sites should be tested every 3 months.
Industrial – All industrial sites, including commercial kitchens should have Portable and Handheld equipment tested every 6 months. Stationary, IT and Moveable equipment should be tested every 12 months.
Do I need an Electrician to do Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)?
It is not a legal requirement for the testing to be done by a qualified electrician. However depending on the inspections required an experienced electrical person will be more suitable than in house members of staff. The only requirements is all tests are taken out by a competent person
For most visual inspections this can be done by employees within the company. However PAT Testing consists of both visual and electrical testing so the following is recommended and required
- Do they understand what is to be looked for and what to test?
- Do they have the correct equipment to undertake the tests?
- Do they have the knowledge to use the test equipment correctly and produce the correct results?
- Do they know how to understand the results and what to recommend for remedial works if the equipment doesn’t pass?
An experienced electrician will also complete the works in a timely manner due to their experience, knowledge of the equipment and knowledge of what to test
Do I need to label any equipment tested?
The requirement of labelling your equipment is not required by Law. However labelling serves as a quick visual reminder to which equipment has been tested and how long since it has been tested.
It also allows employees to quickly asses the suitability of a piece of equipment when moving or using it
Do I need to keep Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) records?
Once again the keeping of records is not a legal requirement.
However records highlight to employees which equipment has been tested and the duration since in association with the labels as above