PAT Tests

What is PAT (Portable Appliance Testing)?

What is Portable appliance testing?

Portable appliance testing (PAT) is the term used to describe the examination of electrical appliances and equipment to ensure they are safe to use.

What does the law say?

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 require that any electrical equipment that has the potential to cause injury is maintained in a safe condition. The Regulations do not specify what needs to be done, by whom or how frequently and it is left to the organisation to decide the level of maintenance needed according to the risk of an item becoming faulty.

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What does the law say?

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 require that any electrical equipment that has the potential to cause injury is maintained in a safe condition. The Regulations do not specify what needs to be done, by whom or how frequently and it is left to the organisation to decide the level of maintenance needed according to the risk of an item becoming faulty.

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Is PAT testing compulsory?

No, PAT testing is not compulsory. 

In April 2012 the HSE revised its guidance on 'Maintaining portable electric equipment in low risk environments'. and recommend that employers should take a risk-based approach, considering the type of equipment and what it is being used for. If it is used regularly and moved a lot e.g. a floor cleaner or a kettle, testing (along with visual checks) can be an important part of an effective maintenance regime giving employers confidence that they are doing what is necessary to help them meet their legal duties.

Things you should consider when assessing risk:

  • Is the equipment being used correctly,
  • Is it suitable for the job, and
  • is it being used in a harsh environment

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Frequency of PAT inspections

The frequency of inspection and testing depends upon the type of equipment and the environment it is used in. For example, a power tool used on a construction site should be examined more frequently than a lamp in a hotel bedroom.

Carrying out safety checks

1. User Checks
The check should be carried at the time of use by the person using equipment. This involves a visual inspection of the mains plug, cable and the appliance for obvious signs of damage or degradation.

2. Formal Visual Inspection
These should be carried out at set intervals by a competent person to look for any defects.

The findings of these checks should be recorded and kept as evidence.  Many potential hazards can be averted through this process e.g. potential hazards such as enclosure damage, damage to the mains flex, signs of overheating, incorrectly fitted mains plugs, incorrect fuses etc. can be identified by a thorough visual examination

The requirements of a formal visual inspection will vary according to the equipment being inspected and the environment in which it is used.

3. Combined Inpection and Testing
These tests should be carried out by a trained professional i.e. qualified electrician.

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Suggested intervals for checking electrical equipment

Frequency of PAT tests

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Testing new equipment

New equipment should be supplied in a safe condition and does not require a formal portable appliance inspection or test. However,  it is always recommended that you visually inspect the item to verify that  the item is not damaged.

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Electrical Safety Checks for Medical Equipment

Medical Electrical Safety Testing is not your average PAT test.  Medical devices are tested to completely different standards to domestic, commercial and industrial appliances in the general workplace. The specialist PAT tests for medical equipment take into account not just safety but also test the functionality of the equipment e.g. calibration for accuracy, etc.

Medical Electrical Safety Testing should always be carried out by a qualified and trained professional.

Frequency for testing for medical equipment

Once a medical device enters into service, the following types of tests sould be carried out:

  • Routine Testing: this form of testing is often conducted at fixed time intervals, which vary between types of equipment. (Check with the manufacturer for guidance)
  • After Service & Repair Testing; is carried out following a repair or product upgrade.

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