Insights: Electrical Safety and Testing
Why do I need a PAT test?

A PAT test (portable appliance test) is a routine inspection of some types of electrical appliances to check they are safe to use. PAT testing is applicable in workplaces and public settings and ultimately ensures that electrical equipment can be used safely.

PAT testing is required by law and should be undertaken across all electrical equipment within your commercial setting, whether it is portable, fixed, transportable, plugged or spurred. PAT testing should be performed on all moveable equipment that weighs less than 18kg and stationary equipment that weighs more than 18kg.

A full PAT test covers earth continuity, lead polarity and insulation resistance. This is done visually and using specialist PAT testing equipment to confirm the integrity of a connection. Some appliances only need a reduced test, called a PAT insulation test. Although appliances that are not plugged into an electrical power source do not require PAT testing, if your business has any appliances plugged into an electrical outlet, even if not portable, these should be tested. For example, a dishwasher or industrial machinery would be considered plugged into a power source and subject to PAT testing. At the end of a PAT test, every appliance should be marked ‘passed’ or ‘failed’.

Why do I need a PAT test?

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, it is an employer’s duty to ensure all employees’ health, safety and welfare. This includes providing all equipment is safe to use. The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 also places a legal responsibility on employers (or ‘duty holders’) to ensure electrical equipment does not pose any risk to users. Failure to comply with either of these could result in fines and legal action.

The Health and Safety Executive states that around 25% of all reportable electrical accidents involve portable appliances. Poorly maintained or faulty electrical equipment can cause electric shocks, burns or fires.

What is an ideal frequency for a PAT test?

The frequency of PAT testing depends on your company’s risk assessment. The regulations state that the level of precaution taken should be ‘appropriate’ to the risk.

There are three main criteria that determine PAT testing frequency:

  • the risk level of the working environment
  • the electrical class of the appliance
  • the category of the appliance

It is also recommended to take the following into consideration as necessary:

  • frequency of use
  •  manufacturer’s recommendations
  •  foreseeable misuse of the equipment
  •  effects of any modifications or repairs
  •  the age of the equipment

Who can carry out a PAT test?

A risk assessment should be carried out before undertaking any work and the person doing it should have the relevant level of knowledge. In low-risk environments, a member of staff with an appropriate level of knowledge could be tasked with this if they were given the right training.

In situations where there is a high risk of equipment failure or safety breaches, it is always advised to use an experienced and qualified professional who can perform an inspection and manual testing. They should be well-trained, equipped with the correct inspection tools and thoroughly understand the area being inspected.

At Compliance Group, all of our qualified engineers are trained to nationally recognised standards, using the latest equipment to ensure all PAT tests are carried out efficiently and comprehensively. They are also able to carry out all necessary repairs to the power supply at the time of inspection, therefore minimising the number of items failing. Uniquely numbered with a permanent label, each appliance tested is logged into our test database which handles over a million results annually, providing reports and schedules in both, printed and digital formats.

To remain compliant with the latest regulations, and to protect your people and premises, contact today to discuss our electrical safety and protection services today.

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