24 Feb Everything you need to know about Portable Appliance Testing
What is PAT testing?
Portable Appliance Testing – also known as PAT testing – is the examination of portable electrical equipment and appliances to ensure they are safe to use in the working environment.
It generally includes three steps:
- Regular, informal checks by the electrical equipment’s user/s
- A formal visual inspection of the equipment
- A manual examination of the equipment with a portable appliance tester device (the PAT test)
Do I need to do PAT testing?
PAT tests are recommended for all businesses that use portable electrical equipment. This includes office-based businesses, property owners, hotels and restaurants, healthcare settings and construction and manufacturing. Self-employed people should also conduct PAT tests on their business equipment, even in the home.
Is PAT testing a legal requirement?
No. The law does state that any electrical equipment in the workplace must be maintained to ensure it is safe and does not pose any danger, but it does not specify how the equipment should be maintained, or how often, nor who should carry out any maintenance.
PAT testing is recommended by experts and professionals as the best way to meet these health and safety obligations and to protect your employees.
Why do I need a PAT test?
Poorly maintained or faulty electrical equipment can cause electric shocks, burns or fires. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, it is an employer’s duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all employees. This includes ensuring all equipment is safe to use.
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 also place a legal responsibility on employers (or ‘duty holders’) to ensure electrical equipment does not pose any risk to users. Failure to comply with either of these could result in fines and legal action.
PAT tests are a simple, cost-effective way to meet your legal obligations, protect your business and keep your employees safe.
What is ‘portable electrical equipment’?
This refers to items that can be moved, connected and disconnected from an electrical supply. They generally have a cable lead and a plug.
Common portable electrical equipment includes laptops, desktop computers, drills, kettles, heaters, fans, lamps, microwaves, toasters, radios, TVs, projectors, printers, hair dryers (including wired-in versions), extension leads, multi-way adaptors, connector leads and mobile phone charging equipment.
Larger equipment like fridges, photocopiers, water coolers, vending machines, washing machines and cookers are also included. Water boilers that are wired in, mobile phones and battery-operated equipment are not included.
“Electrical classes” are defined as the classification of electrical equipment. Class of any material or Appliance helps to identify which one needs to be PAT tested and to what degree. Electrical equipment is mainly considered for different classes such as Class 1, 2 or 3. The most dangerous equipment is classified as Class 1, and least harmful are classified as 3. devices from Class 1 need a full PAT test. In contrast, Class 2 appliances need a PAT insulation test, and no PAT test required for Class 3 devices.
- Class 1 appliances: Class 1 appliances of electrical appliances have only simple insulation and rely on an earth for protection purposes. These appliances are the most common.
- Class 2 appliances: Among three classes, this electrical equipment class has additional insulation, and as a result, they do not rely on an earth for protection.
- Class 3 appliances: These appliances are low voltage consuming items, and among these three classes, Class 3 is the safest class of electrical Appliance. Charging leads of class 3 appliances must be PAT tested.
How often do I need a PAT test?
There are no rules around how often your equipment needs a PAT test. It is entirely down to the ‘duty holder’ (the person tasked with responsibility for electrical equipment) to assess the risk level and decide on the frequency of inspections. This is usually determined by the type of equipment, how often it is being used and whether the working environment is considered high risk or low risk.
For example, a drill used daily on a construction site will need more frequent inspections than a vacuum cleaner in a holiday let.
At Pulse Electrix we have engineers specially trained in PAT to conduct these inspections, so you can be sure that your appliances are in expert hands.