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What is PAT Testing all about?

Here you will find information which should provide you with a better understanding of what PAT Testing is and why it is required.

What is a PAT Test?

Portable appliance testing (usually referred to as PAT Testing) is a name that has been given to the process by which electrical appliances in an organisation are checked to ensure that they are safe.

Portable Appliance Testing has been developed as a convenient and complete method of testing electrical appliances to ensure that they are safe and with the correct maintenance schedule and test results ensures an employer complies with his/her legal obligations. 

What happens during the test?

PAT Testing incorporates among other items a formal visual inspection and check of the item including a functional or operational check. Provided it has been deemed safe to do so from the former inspections it is then subject to additional electrical tests. The tests themselves are dependant on the type of equipment in question and the values obtained are recorded along with all the other details and information from the item which is given a unique identity number. Each item tested is then given a Pass or Fail label which will also clearly display the date of it’s next test. All of the information acquired during this process is then compiled into an equipment register.

Record keeping and certification during the whole testing schedule is of paramount importance. It is the information acquired during the testing procedure that can prove very effective at highlighting a potential problem or risk before it occurs, as the tester has the ability to be able to compare results from previous tests and thus identify any indication of the deterioration of the piece of equipment under test.  

Although it is easy to get bogged down in the detail, it is important to remember that PAT testing is simply a process which determines whether or not an appliance is safe to use.

Why bother?

PAT testing is often seen as a process of "going through the motions" for some companies and often many companies fail to have it carried out at all. The risks to employees, employers and businesses is very real, not only from the risk of electrical shock or injury but also the risk of fire caused by faulty appliances. How many times do you read in the newspaper that a lives have been lost or a home or business has been destroyed and that the cause was an electrical fault? Many insurance companies are now insisting that this is carried out as part of the conditions of cover.

Every year in the UK, about 30 people die from coming into contact with electricity and many more people receive serious injuries. About 25% of these accidents occur as a result of using portable appliances. By complying with the recommendations and employing a regular policy of inspection and testing items of electrical equipment, we should be able to identify any required maintenance which can then be rectified before a potential risk or danger arises.

PAT testing is an important part of any health & safety policy. Although there is no direct law at present stating that Portable Appliance Testing must be carried out employer’s have a legal obligation under the following regulations to ensure that their electrical equipment is safe.

The four main regulations which cover health and safety law regarding PAT testing are 

  • The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 (H&SWA)
  • The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999  
  • The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)
  • The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (EAWR)

Please take time to have a look at the information provided within this web site with regard to this legislation and how they affect both employer and employee alike.

There are many good reasons to carry out pat testing:-

  • Compliance with the very latest health and safety regulations
  • Risk of fire and injury from portable appliances is minimised
  • It assists in your compliance with ISO9000/1 and BS5750 or helps to gain accreditation
  • Satisfy the requirements of your business and public liability insurance policies - Please check this, most people are not aware of this little known fact!

In Summary

The simple fact though is that Electricity can, and sadly does sometimes kill or cause serious injury and very often a regular schedule of planned inspection and testing can avoid these tragic situations. This has to be the most compelling reason to have your equipment PAT tested. Consider the likely consequences if you choose not to have the testing done and you or one of your staff were to be killed or injured!

Compared with the above situation the costs of carrying this out are negligible in comparison with the heavy penalties that can be imposed to both you and your business for failing to recognise your responsibilities.

We all accept without question that the vehicles we drive require an annual MOT test after a certain age so why should we not adopt the same way of thinking when it comes down to the electrical equipment we also use on a daily basis as part of our work…………

PAT Testing is a simple process that has been adopted to help both employers and employees alike whilst helping to aid compliance with the relevant Health & Safety regulations.

Statistically speaking since the introduction and wider use of PAT testing in the work place there has been a steady reduction in the number or accidents and injuries in the workplace and we all have a duty to ensure that this trend continues to reduce year-on-year.




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