What is Portable Appliance Testing?

Seaward Primetest 350Electrical equipment must be safe to use this is why appliances have to be PAT tested.  Portable appliance testing or PAT testing is the term used to describe the examination of the equipment.  A lot of defects in electrical equipment can be seen from visual examinations, frayed wires, earths hanging out and not connected, however testing by sight alone is not thorough enough to show up all possible faults that may exist in an appliance.

Users of electrical equipment normally have a brief checklist for their machine, if not it is a good idea that equipment users understand that when they notice anything unusual visually or in running they should, really must, report the issues to the proper department within their company.  However, a person trained in PAT testing should be checking all electrical equipment on a regular basis, how regular is dependent on the equipment and the environment in which it is used.

The Law on PAT Testing

There are no specific laws enforcing when equipment needs to be tested.  The Health and Safety Executive have a frequently asked questions section on testing here.  However, if you fail to maintain equipment in good working order, and that includes safe to use just not look at, you can fall foul of the HSE and leave your company open to prosecution.

Therefore the time between appliance testing can be determined by a company itself.  Again though the HSE do give general guidelines on how a company should assess the risk and they point out some broad guidelines and case studies for companies to follow.  I suggest that these broad guidelines are what would be sued when evaluation if a company was libel in the event of an employee, customer, or public injury.

How Often to PAT Test Equipment?

This is completely dependent on the equipment and the environment it is used in.  One of the most frequent areas for testing electrical equipment is the construction industry, and one of the least frequent areas for testing is fixed computers in a clean office.

Just imagine how much use a heavy duty drill on a construction site gets, or a cement mixer?  The men using the later might be more concerned with duties than looking after the electrical side of the mixer.  These types of equipment are therefore one of the groups that get tested most often.

Labelling Tested Equipment

It is fairly easy to label the tested equipment, and again the HSE does not have it as law, but as strongly advisable for a few reasons.   Keeping records let you know if your testing regime is working.  Keeping records show that you do test, good to have in case of accidents.  And of course, it is essential to know when to test again.  A machine like the Seaward Primetest 350 makes it easy to print labels once it tested the equipment and the Test n Tag label cartridges are the type of labels used to denote that the equipment has been tested and when. Seaward is the main manufacturer of this equipment in the UK.

Risks of PAT Testing

Perhaps that should really read risks of not PAT testing.  If you fail to test equipment you are leaving yourself and your company open to financial risk.  If a Plc does this it is something they must state in their annual reports.  If you run certain types of companies you may find it impossible to obtain insurance – Tool Hire for example – but mostly there is a moral argument in keeping yourself, your employees and everyone your company comes in contact with safe.  Make a choice.

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