Portable Appliance Testing – PAT Testing – FAQ
Who does this apply to?
The Electricity at Work Regulations (1989) placed a Legal responsibility on employers, suppliers and hirers etc to take reasonable steps to ensure that no danger results from the use of electrical equipment. This means all Portable Appliances at your place of work have to be regularly tested to ensure they are safe. Everybody has a duty to ensure the safety of others whilst at work; however, the Duty Holder will have ultimate responsibility for electrical safety. If nobody at your place of work is clear on who that is, then the responsibility falls on the most senior person. It is important to know who has the responsibility for safety and welfare of staff in order to establish that compliance is achieved.
What is a Portable Appliance?
For the purpose of the legislation, a portable electrical appliance is taken to be an item of equipment which is not part of a fixed installation but is, or is intended to be, connected to fixed installation, or a generator, by means of a flexible cable and a plug and socket – any item with a plug is Portable Appliance. This would include electric drills, kettles, PCs, printers, monitors, extension lead and even some large items such as vending machines and photocopiers.
How often do I have items tested?
There is no specific schedule set out. There are however guidelines to help. The frequency of testing depends on the type of equipment and the environment in which it is used. For example a high-risk item such as an electric drill should be tested more frequently than a low risk item such as a PC. Furthermore a drill that is used every day in a high density manufacturing plant should be tested more frequently than a drill used only occasionally in an office environment. Essentially it is the responsibility of the employer to assess the risk involved and implement its own programme of testing. Most companies still opt for a blanket test of all equipment on an annual basis to ensure conformity.
Can anyone test items?
No, the legislation states that the person testing the item must be a competent person. All Interlink Lighting & Electrical engineers are qualified PAT testers to ensure your appliances & employees stay safe at all times.
Is it done during normal office hours?
This type of testing will generally be undertaken during normal business hours. If you are in charge of a department budget, you should be aware that it is likely that evening work and weekend work would attract uplift in costs.
Do we have to unplug the machines?
Yes – it is impossible otherwise. In order to electrically test the equipment it needs to be disconnected from the mains and plugged into a testing device. This is how the electrical readings are obtained and a PASS or FAIL status is defined.
What about our servers and critical systems?
In some environments where it is not possible to turn equipment on and off, such as computer suites and comms rooms, it may only be appropriate for a visual inspection to be carried out. If this is the case, then every effort must be made to carry out a combined inspection and test at the next available times. This would normally be during a scheduled shut-down for maintenance purpose.
Do I have to keep records?
It should be viewed as best practice to adopt a register of all Portable Appliance Testing. In this way we are able to demonstrate that we have safely maintained the equipment within our control.
What happens if an item fails?
Most failures are found during the initial visual check (i.e. a cracked plug or an incorrectly rated fuse). These minor repairs will be carried out during the course of the works however other failures may not be fixed quickly and Interlink Lighting will take them out of service to eliminate danger to your staff.
What could happen if I don’t do it?
There are many reasons not to do Portable Appliance Testing such as cost, inconvenience, or lack of knowledge. However none of these reasons will be accepted as a defence in the event that an accident or fire occurs. Aside from the threat of prosecution in the event of injury or death, surely the safety of your colleagues, employees, patients or belongings are reason enough to test and inspect electrical systems at work.