PAT – Portable appliance testing FAQs
We often get asked about the requirements for Portable Appliance Testing.
The overloading of sockets, using an incorrect size fuse, buying a cheap battery charger are all examples of actions that can cause fires started by electrical goods.
In addition to that, using a faulty electrical appliance can result in the user getting an electric shock which, in some cases, can prove to be fatal.
So, although it has been covered before, I thought it might be a good time to cover the topic again in this week’s newsletter.
We also have 2 recent HSE cases for you to look at and learn from:
- Michael Efthymiou, a self- employed gas engineer, carried out an unsafe installation of a gas combination boiler and flue at a domestic property in Crossfield Road, Clacton-on-Sea.
- The tragic death of Mr Davies could easily have been avoided had the work been planned, managed and monitored effectively and simple and cost effective control measures put in place.
PAT – Portable appliance testing FAQs
There are many common myths about portable appliance testing (PAT) – find out the key facts about the inspection and testing of portable electrical equipment here;
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.
A relatively brief user check (based upon simple training and perhaps assisted by the use of a brief checklist) can be a very useful part of any electrical maintenance regime. However, more formal visual inspection and testing by a competent person may also be required at appropriate intervals, depending upon the type of equipment and the environment in which it is used
I’ve been told that, by law, I must have my portable electrical appliances tested every year. Is this correct?
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 require that any electrical equipment that has the potential to cause injury is maintained in a safe condition. However, the Regulations do not specify what needs to be done, by whom or how frequently (i.e. they don’t make inspection or testing of electrical appliances a legal requirement, nor do they make it a legal requirement to undertake this annually).
How frequently do I need to test my electrical appliances?
The frequency of inspection and testing depends upon the type of equipment and the environment it is used in. For example, a power tool used on a construction site should be examined more frequently than a lamp in a hotel bedroom. For guidance on suggested frequencies of inspection and testing, see: Maintaining portable and transportable electrical equipment.
Do I need to keep records of testing and should I label any appliances tested?
There is no legal requirement to label equipment that has been inspected or tested, nor is there a requirement to keep records of these activities. However, a record and/or labelling can be a useful management tool for monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of the maintenance scheme – and to demonstrate that a scheme exists.
Do I need to test new equipment?
New equipment should be supplied in a safe condition and not require a formal portable appliance inspection or test. However, a simple visual check is recommended to verify the item is not damaged.
I have been told that I have to get an electrician to do portable appliance testing work. Is that correct?
The person doing testing work needs to be competent to do it. In many low-risk environments, a sensible (competent) member of staff can undertake visual inspections if they have enough knowledge and training. However, when undertaking combined inspection and testing, a greater level of knowledge and experience is needed, and the person will need: