Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) and Auditing
Conforming to Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) testing regulations will help you to ensure that the portable appliances in your business are safe and help you to avoid violations. PAT legislation was put into effect to ensure that all companies conform to the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974, Electricity at Work Regulations of 1989, Provision and Use of Work Equipment regulations of 1998 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work regulations of 1999.
The testing process is not just based on an electricial test. The first (and most important part) of the test is a Formal Visual Inspection. This includes checking fuses are appropriate for the appliance, that screws in plugs are tight and that cables are not damaged. Therefore even without the electrical tests, the appliance testing process is a valuable tool to check for damage and wear.
As all cables and appliances with mains plugs should/will be tested (including 110V appliances), testing can be combined with an audit of appliances on-site, including asset tracking.
How often should appliances need testing?
There are no absolute rules regarding how often an item of electrical equipment should be tested. HSE Guidance Notes advise "regular testing" and this is generally interpreted as a requirement for annual testing. However, circumstances and conditions of use will vary. The competent test person should be able to advise on the frequency of testing resulting from his own experience and discussions with the user or dutyholder (who may be a non-technical person) regarding the "lifestyle" of the equipment.
Personnel responsible for the safe use of electrical equipment, for example contractors, managers of electrical/electronics laboratories (test equipment and tools) office managers (electrical office machines) are each regarded by the Electricity at Work Act as 'dutyholders' and should operate a routine safety testing programme.
In schools, based on the IET Code of Practice and industry best-practice, we suggest the following test frequencies depending on the appliance type:
|Formal Visual Inspection (Class I)||None||None||4 months||4 months||4 months|
|Combined Inspection and Testing (Class I)||12 months||12 months||12 months||12 months||12 months|
|Formal Visual Inspection (Class II)||12 months||12 months||4 months||4 months||4 months|
|Combined Inspection and Testing (Class II)||48 months||48 months||48 months||48 months||48 months|