What is PAT Testing? Here at Best London Electrician we probably have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) in all matters of safety. One area of concern and where we often see problems is with portable electrical appliances. Portable electrical appliances by their very nature are dangerous. These appliances are often moved about and not sure whether I should use the word abused. They are often pulled about, knocks occur on the plugs and the devices, sometimes the electrical wires are not pulled out or are knotted or coiled up and overheat melting the electrical insulation. So for peace of mind the portable electrical appliances in your house should be regularly checked. It is stated that 25% of reported electrical accidents were with portable appliances. The Electricity at Work Regulations clearly place the responsibility on employers, employees and self-employed to follow these regulations and take all reasonable steps to ensure no danger results from the use of portable electrical equipment.
IS PAT TESTING A LEGAL REQUIREMENT?
This site is intended as a guide to both the legal implications and to the technical requirements.
How often should they be checked? A good question, in an industrial situation they are checked on a yearly basis. With some companies doing a six month check. In a home you should consider how well you treat your portable electrical equipment. If you personally use and care for it, you could leave it a couple of years or so. If you lend the equipment out or many family members use it, then test annually.
WHO CAN DO PAT TESTING??
Can I do the checks? Simple question – harder answer. Legally you cannot do the check yourself, it needs to be done by a qualified suitable equipped tester. However you can and should check the physical integrity of your electrical equipment. Things to look for are:
• Melted wires
• Damaged insulation
• Wires pulling out of plugs or appliance
• Damaged plugs
You cannot however know about the internal status of the equipment that can only be checked by electrical testing.
Health and safety regulations insist that all portable devices should be regularly inspected, PAT testing is the solution. PAT testing dates back to the health and safety work act 1974.
This requires the implementation of a systematic and regular program of maintenance, inspection and testing. This needs to be done in the following circumstances:
1. Where appliances are used by employees.
2. Where the public may use appliances in establishments such as hospitals, schools, hotels, shops etc.
3. Where appliances are supplied or hired.
4. Where appliances are repaired or serviced.
The level of inspection and testing required is dependent upon the risk of the appliance becoming faulty, which is in turn dependent upon the type of appliance, the nature of its use and the environment in which it is used.
Some companies will train and certify an employee in PAT testing. Thereby saving the company money rather than contracting out to an electrical contractor. They become a valuable asset to their company, lots of businesses including hospitals, schools, care homes, councils, charities and many more, have found that, having a member of staff trained in PAT testing, has enabled the business to save money and have safer procedures in place.
The advantage of an internal resource for PAT testing is the training they can give to staff. After training company employees are far more likely to look after the electrical equipment including the portable appliances. They are also more likely to regularly check their electrical appliances.
The internal PAT testing person becomes a focal point for all electrical safety questions and advice, so often wider electrical safety process and issues can be treated at an early stage before they become a real problem or lead to an incident.
If there ever is an Health and Safety issue, even if not electrical, the reviews of process and training will look positively on those companies with a PAT process.
To minimise the costs of PAT testing it is important to have it well organised. One of the most important first steps is to have a good portable appliance asset register listing all equipment that must be tested. This is kept upto date, often by the Procurement Department, who note new purchases of equipment and the removal of equipment through loss or damage. The list should include the “owner” who can be contacted to organise either delivery to a testing point, or if there are a number of items, an appointment for the PAT tester to come to him.
Whilst the PAT tester will normally quote on the basis of the number and type of portable appliances, he will also charge for inefficient / waiting time whilst doing the job.
For more information – The Institution of Electrical Engineers have published the “Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment”. This guide outlines the basis for portable appliance testing (PAT) in the U.K.
So for some free advice on PAT testing in London and Essex – ring the best London electrician today on 0800 7315351