Common Questions On PAT

What is portable appliance testing?

Portable appliance testing (PAT) is the term used to describe the examination of electrical appliances and equipment to ensure they are safe to use. Most electrical safety defects can be found by visual examination but some types of defect can only be found by testing. However, it is essential to understand that visual examination is an essential part of the process because some types of electrical safety defect can’t be detected by testing alone.

Who Needs PAT Testing?

The Health and Safety Executive guidance topics state the requirement that “any electrical equipment that has the potential to cause injury is maintained in a safe condition.” Thus, it is important for any business owner, from a sole proprietorship who works from home, from a large multi-national corporation to ensure compliance with this requirement. The responsibility of safe appliances lies with the person who is the duty holder; this could be a business owner, landlord, equipment user, or manager of a premises.

Any portable appliance in a working area, from a printer to a kettle, to a microwave to even a vacuum cleaner, should have periodic portable appliance testing, especially via a qualified and certified PAT Testing engineer. A PAT Testing engineer will know exactly what to look for and where to look for it, from plugs and outlets to the casings around any portable appliances.
Another group who need to consider adding PAT Testing to their yearly business practice are landlords. If a person is letting out accommodation in order to make money as a business venture, and this includes such places as flats, boats and holiday rentals, then they fall under the same safety regulations as a standard office building. Flats still have plugs and wiring, as well as portable electronic appliances such as microwaves, kettles, and washing machines and all these portable appliances are under the responsibility of the landlord to ensure they are safe under the 1994 Electrical Equipment Regulations.

Other businesses that should perform frequent PAT Testing include beauty salons, night clubs, hotels, doctors’ offices, and health clubs. PAT Testing does not just apply to standard offices with computers and copiers, but any workplace that has portable electric appliances. It not only a smart business move to have all of the companies appliances checked and up to date, but it also ensures the health and safety of both their employees and their customers for the future.

What are the recommended PAT testing frequencies?

There are a number of things that need to be considered when determining the frequency of PAT testing. It basically comes down to the higher the risk the more frequent inspection & testing should be carried out. It is down to the ‘Duty Holder’ to assess the electrical appliances within their control & in conclusion implement a preventative maintenance programme for in-service inspection & testing.

Are wired appliances part of PAT testing?

One of the big myths surrounding PAT is that we only have to test items with a plug on.

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 covers all electrical ‘Systems’ at work and therefore the law does not differentiate between equipment with a plug and that which is wired directly to the supply.

Many companies still fail to include fixed equipment in their risk assessments and asset registers, leaving themselves wide open if something were to go wrong.

What Regulations Are Applied To PAT Testing?

There are five different pieces of legislation that point to the necessity of PAT testing. A chronological summary of each is listed below.

The Health & Safety At Work Act 1974

Regardless of how many employees there are or who the employer is, it is the responsibility of everyone in the workplace to make sure the work environment remains safe for anyone who works at or visits that particular place of business.

The Electricity At Work Regulations 1989

All electrical equipment should be constructed and maintained is such a way as to prevent the endangerment of individuals, as much as is possible. These regulations define electrical systems as the entire arrangement of circuitry necessary to run electronic items. This includes the equipment as well as the source of the electricity.

Workplace (Health, Safety And Welfare) Regulations 1992

In order to prevent a dangerous work environment that results from faulty equipment, this legislation makes it a requirement for businesses to perform regular maintenance on all equipment in order to keep it functioning properly.

The Provision And Use Of Work Equipment Regulations 1998

This law states that it is the duty of an employer to ensure all equipment at a workplace is properly maintained and working efficiently.

The Management Of Health & Safety At Work Regulations 1999

The most recent regulations applying to PAT testing indicate the responsibility of an employer to adequately assess the conditions of the workplace for the health and safety of all workers. Additionally, it is the employer’s duty to determine possible risks to anyone else who happens to come in contact with the business (e.g. customers).

These regulations each fall into one of the following three categories: safety at the workplace, equipment maintenance and electrical systems. When you combine the three categories, it becomes clear that PAT testing is a means of adhering to these regulations.

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