Portable Appliance Testing (PAT Testing): Safety and Compliance
Regular checking, testing and maintenance of electrical appliances and equipment within your business environment is vital to keeping your people safe and your company compliant. PAT testing (Portable Appliance Testing) is a key part of this.
Since September 2020, PAT testing encompasses the inspection and testing of all electrical appliances and equipment, not just portable ones, to ensure they are safe for continued use. This follows the release of the Code of Practice (5th Edition) by the IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology), which sets the standard for wiring regulation standards for electrical installations.
Although still called PAT testing by most people, all references to PAT were removed in the 5th Edition. Instead, the Code of Practice now focuses on the requirement for the duty holder to take into account the following when considering maintenance of electrical equipment:
• The equipment’s exposure to risks
• The environment it is used in
• The skill level of the user
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 of fire and injury which can be posed by the electrical appliances and equipment within those premises. Also bear in mind that appliances and equipment belonging to your employees, as well as items leased or provided by a contractor, should be maintained.
PAT testing should be carried out by a competent person, not necessarily 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 electrical appliances and equipment safely but also to make visual checks themselves and report any faults immediately.
However, some appliances and equipment 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 in maintaining your business’s electrical appliances and equipment. Ask yourself how often each one 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.
Also removed from the Code of Practice (5th Edition) was guidance about the frequency of testing, replacing this with a focus on assessments based on the factors above. Many electrical appliances and equipment 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 as signs of water damage and loose or trapped wires.
Keeping a record of the inspection and 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 when the next inspection should take place. Labelling the appliance or equipment 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 electrical appliance or equipment 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.