Portable Appliance Testing (PAT Testing): Safety and Compliance
Regular checking, testing and maintenance of electrical systems within your business environment is vital to keeping your people safe and your company compliant. PAT testing is a key part of this.
Even if your business operates in a low-risk environment such as a shop or office, as opposed to a factory or construction site, there are still risks which can be posed by the electrics within those premises. It can be easy to overlook the dangers from portable electrical appliances such as kettles, radios, toasters, microwaves, desktop computers and mobile phone chargers. Also bear in mind that appliances belonging to your employees, as well as items leased or provided by a contractor, should be maintained.
Portable appliances generally have a lead and a plug, enabling them to be moved from an electrical supply. By law, these appliances must be maintained to ensure that they do not cause any risk of fire or injury.
PAT testing should be carried out by a competent person which doesn’t necessarily mean a qualified electrician. In low-risk environments a designated member of staff with some degree of knowledge and training will often be able to carry out visual inspections. And all of your employees should be encouraged not only to use the appliances safely but also to make visual checks themselves and report any faults immediately.
However, some portable electrical appliances may require advanced testing and therefore only a qualified electrician will have the necessary higher level of knowledge and experience, not to mention the correct testing equipment and ability to interpret the results.
Common sense plays a large part of maintaining your business’s electrical appliances. As there are no minimum legal requirements regarding the maintenance of portable electrical appliances, it’s down to business owners to monitor them appropriately.
So ask yourself how often each appliance is likely to become faulty. Things to consider include its construction, its use and its suitability for the job it’s being used for. You also need to take into account the results of previous tests.
Most portable electrical appliances will need testing at some point but not necessarily every year, particularly if they are used in clean and dry environments. In these cases, a visual inspection may be all that’s needed to identify potential risks such signs of water damage and loose or trapped wires.
Keeping a record of the PAT testing that takes place within your business is key to helping you stay compliant and up to date. Write down not only when something was tested, but what the results were and therefore when the next inspection should take place. Labelling an appliance with this information is a good idea. Bear in mind that the date of the next test will depend on the results of the previous one, and may vary from one check to the next.
Obviously, any faulty or damaged appliance must be removed straight away, whether it’s been identified through PAT testing or reported by any of your staff members.
Many businesses will have PAT testing included as part of a maintenance contract with an electrical contractor, who will also provide repairs and servicing. Click here to find out more about how DRF can help with your PAT testing and other compliance needs.