PAT (or portable appliance testing) is a policy in the UK in which routine safety checks are performed on electrical appliances. Essentially, this is a common sense safety regulation to ensure that any people, workers, or tenants who might come into contact with portable electrical appliances are not at risk of injury.
The Portable Appliance Testing rules are very straightforward as detailed in the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989: “All [electrical] systems shall at all times be of such construction as to prevent, so far as reasonably practical, such danger.” Therefore, it only makes sense to have any organisation perform testing on appliances on a consistent basis.
For all types of organisations, from a small office to a large corporation, an outside testing company is the best course of action, because a competent and certified PAT professional will best be able to observe the appliances and look for any obvious signs of wear.
Although the law does not specifically state how often PAT testing should be performed, it is reasonable to at least do an observational check yearly. This will include checking and testing for frayed wires, if the casing around the appliance appears to be damaged or coming undone, as well as plugs that appear to be cracked or damaged. From there, the PAT testing professional will be able to recommend the next course of action, repair the appliance if possible, or provide guidance on the next steps for the ensuring all appliances are safe.
A qualified PAT specialist will be able to perform tests and checks on a variety of appliances using PAT testers that will be able to show if the appliance has passed or failed testing, including earth continuity, lead polarity and insulation resistance, among others for more advanced testers. This is a relatively quick and easy process, generally showing if the appliance passed or failed and it should not take very long to determine how safe your portable appliances are. Once each appliance completes the test, they will be labelled with a safety sticker with a barcode for ease of tracking in the future.
Conforming to PAT testing regulations will help you to ensure that the portable appliances in your business are safe and help you to avoid violations. PAT testing legislation was put into effect to ensure that all companies conform to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
The current law requires that all employers maintain portable appliances and ensure their safety. This is done through testing of the appliances to safeguard against damage and to make certain that these items perform properly.
PAT testing law requires that all landlords, employers and even self-employed individuals make sure that their portable electrical appliances are safe and are suitable and used for the purposes intended. These appliances should always be maintained properly and remain in good working order.
The guidelines are designed to make certain that this equipment is kept protected and is preserved through regular maintenance as well as inspections and periodic testing. Damage and fault can occur with all electrical equipment use which makes it essential that these items are tested regularly for safety.
PAT testing is done to ensure that all electrical equipment that is classified as “portable” is deemed safe for use. The legislation deems that any competent person can perform it by using a PAT instrument or tester. The visual examination of each appliance in addition to the actual PAT test should be performed only by someone who is deemed competent.
According to PAT testing legislation, a competent person is someone who has experience or knowledge of being able to check and test appliances for safety purposes. Those with knowledge of electricity in general as well as anyone who has experience in electrical work can be deemed capable.
It is imperative that employers, landlords and self-employed individuals follow the rules to ensure that their workplaces and premises are safe.