What is PAT (Portable Appliance Testing)
Portable appliance testing (PAT) is the term used to describe the examination of electrical appliances and equipment to ensure they are safe to use. Most electrical safety defects can be found by visual examination but some types of defect can only be found by testing. However, it is essential to understand that visual examination is an essential part of the process because some types of electrical safety defect can’t be detected by testing alone.
A relatively brief user check (based upon simple training and perhaps assisted by the use of a brief checklist) can be a very useful part of any electrical maintenance regime. However, more formal visual inspection and testing by a competent person may also be required at appropriate intervals, depending upon the type of equipment and the environment in which it is used
Why do I need to have my appliances tested?
The best way of ensuring that your appliances are safe is to have a PAT test carried out on them. This is a good way for landlords to ensure that they are meeting their legal obligations to maintain high standards of electrical safety in their rented property.
What does Portable Appliance Testing involve?
To establish the safety and suitability of your electrical appliances, the competent person will carry out a visual inspection of the appliance, its plug and lead. For Class I equipment they will also inject test signals into the cable and appliance to ensure their integrity.
Is it required annually by law?
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 require that any electrical equipment that has the potential to cause injury is maintained in a safe condition. However, the Regulations do not specify what needs to be done, by whom or how frequently (ie they don’t make inspection or testing of electrical appliances a legal requirement, nor do they make it a legal requirement to undertake this annually).
Do I need to test new equipment?
New equipment should be supplied in a safe condition and not require a formal portable appliance inspection or test. However, a simple visual check is recommended to verify the item is not damaged.
Is Portable Appliance Testing Compulsory?
No. The law simply requires an employer to ensure that their electrical equipment is maintained in order to prevent danger. It does not say how this should be done or how often. Employers should take a risk-based approach, considering the type of equipment and what it is being used for. If it is used regularly and moved a lot e.g. a floor cleaner or a kettle, testing (along with visual checks) can be an important part of an effective maintenance regime giving employers confidence that they are doing what is necessary to help them meet their legal duties. HSE provides guidance on how to maintain equipment including the use of PAT.
Who should do the work?
Electrical work must only be carried out by people who have the necessary knowledge, skill and experience needed to avoid danger to themselves and others.
Many registered electricians will carry out portable appliance testing. You can find a registered electrician by calling at 0113-2488181.
What will I receive?
Upon completion of the portable appliance inspection and testing you should receive a report that details the following as a minimum:
- An inventory containing each appliance type, name, location and description
- A full set of test results for each appliance tested
- A full list of any failed items with an explanation of their failure
- A visible pass or fail label on each appliance detailing the inspection date, next test due and the inspector’s signature.
If you are not technically aware, then the contractor / competent person who carried out the inspection and testing should be happy to talk through your report with you and advise you of any further action required.