Portable appliance testing (PAT Testing) has become a fundamental requirement for ensuring electrical safety in the workplace.
Badly maintained or faulty equipment could cause electric shocks, burns or fire which in turn could cause serious injury or fatalities. Not only could there be a potential risk to life, but malfunctioning equipment could also cost the business in terms of staff down time, employee morale and damage to the company’s external reputation.
Evidence shows that a large number of the dangers, deaths and injuries caused by misused or faulty electrical equipment can be prevented simply through proper electrical checking, inspection and safety testing.
So, what is PAT testing and how can it help reduce risk?
PAT testing is the examination of electrical appliances and equipment to see if maintenance is required and ensure they are safe for continued use. Many electrical safety defects can be found by visual examination, but some types of defect can only be found by carrying out testing.
What does the law say?
The law requires that all landlords, employers and even self-employed individuals make sure that their portable electrical appliances are safe, suitable and used for their intended purpose.
By carrying out PAT testing it helps companies to meet their statutory obligations, including:
- Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
- The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
- The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
- The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
- The Housing Act 2004 (England and Wales)
- The Housing Act 2014 (Scotland)
Who should carry out the PAT testing and how often?
Any person carrying out electrical safety checks should be competent to do so with equipment that is fit for purpose and within calibration to ensure the validity of the results obtained from the testing process etc.
As with any contractor you employ, it is important to carry out checks on competence, risk assessments, insurances, method statements etc., ahead of commencing work.
The frequency of testing appliances and electrical devices should be derived from a robust risk assessment, taking into account various aspects such as those listed below:
- The construction class of the equipment
- The environment that it is used in
- The users of the equipment
- The type of equipment
- The inspection and test history and its findings
- How often it is used
As an example, a handheld appliance is more likely to become damaged than those that are stationary, therefore handheld appliances should be tested more frequently if all the other aspects of use are the same.
What else is recommended?
Electrical appliances can leave the factory with design or manufacturing faults and are subject to product recalls. So, the registering of all appliances in the workplace and the regular checking for recalls should be part of any businesses policy for electrical safety.
As well as introducing a regular PAT testing programme within the workplace, it is recommended that the most up to date PAT testing equipment is used.
Using modern PAT testers will ensure that checks are quick, easy and data is stored effectively. The latest PAT testers also include risk assessment and risk-based retest calculator features, allowing users to easily determine a risk-based suggested retest period.
Who is Seaward?
Seaward is an expert in the field of electrical safety test instrumentation, developing premium quality products including PAT testers, software and accessories for the electrical, bio-medical and solar industries. Its range of PAT test equipment covers every need from the simple PrimeTest range right up to the Apollo 600+ which is one of the most advanced testers on the market with an inbuilt camera and features a comprehensive range of tests and advanced data transfer and storage features.
Seaward also offers a range of free webinars and workshops aimed at helping engineers improve their skills and keep up-to-date with the latest information. These events will give people the chance to widen their knowledge of appliance testing and keep up with industry standards.
For more information about Seaward events and products, please visit www.seaward.co.uk.