PAT testing stands for portable appliance testing, and it is an important way of making sure that all electrical equipment is safe to use. It is an essential part of any health and safety policy and something that everyone should be aware of.
Damaged electrical appliances can cause a lot of injuries and accidents, especially if they are not checked and become faulty. The Health & Safety Executive says that 25% of all reportable electrical accidents involve portable appliances. It is possible to detect a lot of faulty equipment simply by looking at it and carrying out simple tests. The electricity at work regulations state that employers, employees and individuals should take necessary steps to ensure that no danger results from the use of electrical equipment.
In order to prevent any incidents businesses and public places need to ensure that their electrical equipment has been PAT tested. The law does not specify how often this needs to be done, it really does depend on the type of equipment and the situation. If you perform a risk assessment on your property then you will be able to determine roughly how often electrical equipment should be checked. Think about all the possible risks and how likely they are to occur. You also need to check the manufacturers guidelines as to how each piece of electrical equipment should be maintained and checked for damage.
Some workplaces and environments involve a much higher level of risk, therefore it is crucial that equipment is checked and tested more often. For example construction sites will need to carry out PAT testing much more often than the average office space.
If employees bring in their own equipment to work then it still needs to be tested. You and your employee have to ensure it is safe to use. It is also good practice to ensure that employees know how to check equipment for damage and that they report anything that needs fixing. If something does need to be fixed then it is important to make sure that only someone with the correct knowledge and training carries out the repairs.
It is definitely useful to keep records of electrical equipment including when it has been checked and any issues that are identified. This means you can prove your equipment was checked and by whom. Some places put labels on all electrical equipment to show when it was last tested and that it is safe to use. You don’t have to keep records or label equipment by law, but it is highly recommended.
Equipment can be tested by staff or managers on a regular basis, or by a professional testing company. It is definitely worthwhile getting a trained professional in to test all electrical equipment. This gives you the confidence that thorough checks have been carried out by someone who knows what they are doing.
If you want to find out what sort of things you need to do then the IET ‘code of practice for in-service inspection and testing of electrical equipment’ is a good place to start. Make sure you protect yourself and your employees by carrying out regular PAT testing.