Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is the term used to describe the examination of electrical equipment and appliances to ensure they are safe to use. Most electrical defects are visual to the eye such as cables within the equipment/appliance, but some other types of defects can only be found by testing them.
How does PAT Testing work?
PAT Testing is a very straight forward process but must be completed by a trained and competent person. There are 2 checks they do when performing a PAT test, these consist of:
- Visual check of equipment/appliance
- Manual examination using a portable appliance tester device
With the visual check they are mainly checking things such as the wiring within the equipment/appliance as well as any other damage to plugs and any other connections.
Then with the manual examination, they use a portable appliance tester device. This testing device plugs into the equipment/appliance and then performs a test to see if there are any faults when it is in use. If there is a fault it will appear on the display of the testing device.
Is PAT Testing a legal requirement?
In short, No. The law simply requires an employer to ensure that their electrical equipment is maintained in order to prevent danger to those who will be using it. It does not say how this should be done, or how often. Employers should take a safe approach to this, considering the type of equipment, how often its being used and what its being used for. If it used quite often and moved around quite a lot it is advised to make sure it’s maintained regularly. This can consist of visual checks such as checking casing, cable condition and also plug condition. Items which could be included in this could be kettles, toasters, power tools, extension leads and much more. The Health & Safety Executive can provide more guidance on how to maintain electrical equipment including the use of PAT.
Who can PAT Testing be carried out by?
A number of people think that PAT Testing can only be carried out by electricians, however this is not true. With PAT Testing the person performing the tests need to be competent to do so. When carrying out visual inspections if the person has the knowledge and training they can do so, but when it comes to the actual test to check current flow using the testing the device you will need an appropriately qualified and competent person to do so. This person will need:
- Correct equipment to perform the PAT Tests
- Training and competent in using the testing equipment as it should be used
- Training and competent in understanding the test results