PAT Testing – Find Out What the Law Says About Portable Appliance Testing
One of the most shared causes of fires in the workplace is faulty electrical equipment. Sometimes these faults are not obvious to the untrained eye, and it is fair to say that quite often they are obvious, but are not properly dealt with.
There are various pieces of UK law that deal with electrical safety at work, but the main ones are the ‘Electricity At Work Regulations 1989’, and the ‘Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998’. UK employers have a legal responsibility to have all portable electrical equipment regularly tested, and they must take steps to continue this equipment is satisfactory state of repair.
What Is A Portable Appliance?
Portable appliances are any item of electrical equipment that is not fixed or permanently attached to the building. A simplistic definition is that it is anything with a plug on, which is a reasonable rule of thumb, but not quite accurate in all circumstances. Most portable appliances will connect to a socket with a plug, but there are some exceptions, so do not use it as a definite rule. The safest definition is of something designed to be moved while connected to an electrical supply.
The requirement is to test and continue any portable appliance in the workplace, so that does not average only items that have been purchased or brought onto the premises by the main business or operator. For example, it also applies to equipment brought in by contractors, the DJ’s flashing lights for the Christmas disco, and the curling tongs used by Shelia the secretary before she goes out on Friday night. In other words, as the employer you need to have systems in place to control any electrical item that is brought onto the premises for any reason.
Who Can Do PAT Testing?
The law says that PAT testing should be carried out by a Competent Person. Which method that whoever does it needs to know what they are doing, having been properly trained. This does not rule out doing it in-house, as there are plenty of short courses obtainable that you can put your own staff by. You can buy all the necessary testing equipment and software for recording your results.
The different is to get a specialist contractor in to do it for you.
How Often Do I Need To Test Portable Appliances?
The law is pretty vague about this, meaning that the employer has to estimate the risk for each kind of equipment and make a judgment about it. A good average would be an annual test, but there are some items that definitely require more frequent testing, and some that you can get away with less than that. Something that is moved around and used every day (such as a hand drill) is going to need much more regular testing, perhaps quarterly, with daily visual checks.
The frequency of testing has to be a judgment call on the part of the Responsible Person. You can amend the frequency according to your results. For example, if you find faults with something every time it is tested, the frequency probably needs increasing, while if there are many repeated tests without problems, you may be able to reduce the frequency.
Recording The Results Of Your PAT Testing
The legislation is once again not prescriptive with regard to recording the results of your PAT testing, but it would not make a lot of sense to not record the results of your testing.
The main record for testing is that each item tested will be given a label with details of the date of the test, the date the next test will be due, whether it passed or failed and a rare identification number. The ID number will often be accompanied by a bar code, for recording systems which use this method to make the recording and reporting on individual items much easier.