What Equipment is Needed for PAT Testing?
The need for equipment will vary, depending on the kind of PAT testing that must be carried out, and the volume of tests that need to be made. A basic PAT insulation test will be sufficient for some appliances with a basic PAT tester being entirely suitable. However, more comprehensive and technical tests may have to be carried out in accordance with the specifications in the IET code of practice. You may also be expected to make use of printers and labels as part of the PAT testing process.
Can I PAT Test My Own Equipment?
Employers have responsibility for electrical appliance testing. However, it's quite common for this duty to be assigned to a ‘competent person’. The competent person should:
- Know how to carry out a visual inspection
- Have sufficient knowledge of electricity
- Know how to complete a PAT test
- Have adequate experience of electrical work
- Understand potential hazards and the necessary precautions to take when PAT testing
- Be able to make an informed decision whether it is safe for PAT testing to continue
Professionals expected to perform testing duties will ideally complete the PAT testing course. It will also be necessary to invest in appropriate PAT testing equipment.
How Often Should Equipment Be PAT Tested?
There is no formal legislation specifying the need for PAT testing. However, it is a legal requirement to ensure that electrical equipment is safe and fit for purpose. The expected regularity of PAT testing will depend on the results of workplace risk assessment procedures. When determining the need for PAT testing, the level of risk should also be considered.
These factors should be considered with regards to the regularity of PAT testing:
- Equipment type (portable, hand-held or transportable)
- Equipment class (class 1 or class 2)
- Equipment use (continuous, infrequent, rough)
- How long equipment has been in service (age)
- If equipment is moved around and how frequently
- Competence of personnel using the equipment
- Where equipment is used (outdoors, construction sites, hazardous atmospheres etc)
- Previous test results
- Manufacturer's guidelines and recommendations
- Equipment modifications or repairs
Workplace PAT testing expectations are as follows:
- Offices, shops and hotels – Class 1 devices including IT equipment should be tested every 48 months. Portable equipment such as extension leads should be tested every 24 months. Handheld equipment should be tested every 12 months
- Schools – All class 1 equipment in schools should be PAT tested every 12 months. Class 2 equipment should be tested every 48 months
- Public use equipment – Stationary and IT equipment such as computers should be tested every 12 months. Moveable, portable and handheld equipment falling into class 2 should be tested every 12 months. Moveable, portable and handheld equipment falling into class 1 should be tested every 6 months
- Construction – All 110V equipment used on construction sites should be tested every 3 months
- Industrial – All industrial sites, including commercial kitchens should have portable and handheld equipment tested every 6 months. Stationary, IT and moveable equipment should be tested every 12 months
Why is PAT Testing Important?
PAT testing is key to ensuring adherence to essential safety standards. It's regarded as the easiest and most effective way of ensuring that workplace electrical appliances are safe to use. As previously mentioned, the expected regularity of PAT testing will depend on the categorisation of electrical appliances and the findings of risk assessments.
How Do You Use a PAT Tester?
You should carry out a thorough visual inspection of the electrical item prior to performing the PAT test. This inspection should allow for the identification of defects and issues such as damage to the plug casing, security of connections, and signs of overheating. Once the visual inspection has been completed you may proceed to test the equipment. This may involve testing for earth continuity, insulation resistance, and general functionality. The testing procedure will vary depending on the kit being used. It may be a simple case of disconnecting the electrical item from the main power supply and plugging it into the tester.
Is PAT Testing a Legal Requirement?
There is no specific legislation or regulation stipulating PAT testing requirements. However, the employer or owner of a business has a legal responsibility to ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure the safety of electrical items used by employees and members of the public. Requirements for UK businesses are set out in the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Electricity at Work Regulations. Each states the need to maintain electrical equipment for the prevention of injury and danger.