You’ve probably heard of ‘PAT testing’ before, but not everyone knows what it actually means. ‘PAT’ stands for Portable Appliance Testing (this means that the term ‘PAT testing’ is the electrical equivalent of saying ‘PIN number’, but we won’t worry about that too much here).
So, what does it really mean? In short, Portable Appliance Testing is a process designed for any electrical appliance that can be moved by hand. It may seem obvious to some, but PAT testing is important because it helps to prevent against electrical fires, or any other harm or injury that could be caused to employees and customers by faulty electrical equipment.
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 were brought in by the government to make preventing such harm and injury a legal requirement. PAT testing is not compulsory, however, the quickest and easiest way to abide by these regulations is by conducting regular PAT tests on your electrical equipment.
What does PAT testing involve?
- A piece of equipment called a PAT tester, or PAT testing device, which is connected to the appliance in question. A series of electrical tests are conducted to check that it is functional and in a safe condition.
- Most PAT testers confirm results quickly and simply as either a ‘pass’ or a ‘fail’.
- Alongside this, a visual inspection of the appliance is also carried out by the person conducting the PAT test.
A common assumption is that Portable Appliance Testing means checking an electrical appliance using a PAT tester. But in fact, the phrase ‘PAT testing’ refers to the overall process. Importantly, this includes the visual inspection of the appliance.
This is because:
- The visual inspection only reveals any physical defects, such as hazardous exposed wiring
- The PAT testing device confirms the condition of the electrics but can’t detect physical defects.
Essentially, they depend on each other to provide a complete evaluation.
How often should I be testing my electrical appliances?
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 asserts that all electrical equipment must be kept in a condition that prevents it from causing harm in the workplace. Beyond that, it doesn’t go into further detail. This means that there is no minimum legal requirement for how often an item must be PAT tested.
Having said that, it remains necessary to check the condition of electrical appliances as often as possible in order to prevent a workplace-related injury. Otherwise, you really could be in legal trouble. Additionally, insurance companies will also require you to conduct regular checks of your electrical equipment.
As a general rule, it’s worth remembering that electrical items that are handled more often should be PAT tested more often. So, for example, a kettle or a vacuum cleaner needs more frequent testing than a TV or a standing lamp might require. There are recommendations for how often different electrical appliances should be PAT tested: if you speak to an expert, they can give you the most accurate guidance.
It’s also often asked whether newly purchased electrical equipment needs to be PAT tested before its first use. As a rule, an electrical product from any self-respecting manufacturer should arrive in a safe and functional condition. A quick visual inspection for any physical defects before first usage should suffice.
Who should I contact about a PAT test?
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 doesn’t specify who is required to check the safety and functionality of workplace appliances. That means that PAT testing can be carried out by yourself or a trusted member of staff, provided you own a PAT testing device.
However, an expert electrician is always advisable in order to ensure accurate and reliable results. When it comes to matters of health and safety, it’s always best to be absolutely certain that you’ve put the best possible measures in place.
If you’re looking for a qualified electrician to reliably PAT test your electrical appliances, then look no further. Point Electrical’s trusted commercial electricians are NICEIC approved and always happy to assist and provide expert advice. Get in touch and get it sorted, no hassle required.