What is PAT Testing and how does it affect my business?

What is PAT Testing?

PAT Testing, also known as ‘Portable Appliance Testing’, is a series of electrical and visual inspections that need to be carried out on your business’ portable appliances. PAT Testing is a process that is designed to safeguard everyone who uses the portable electrical equipment, and anyone else who could be affected if it fails.

How is PAT Testing different to EET?

Electrical Equipment Testing (EET) is overall testing which is split between PAT and Fixed Appliance Testing (FAT). FAT Testing is a series of inspections carried out on your built-in appliances such as boilers, dishwashers, refrigerators, hand-dryers, air conditioning units etc. and requires a different set of skills to PAT Testing.

What needs PAT Testing?

A portable electrical appliance is any electrical appliance that’s either moved when in use or can be easily moved from one place to another i.e., a laptop, phone, kettle, toaster, power tool or vacuum cleaner. Larger items, such as printers and photocopiers that can be moved are also classed as a portable electrical appliance because they’re not permanently wired into your electrical system.

 

Does PAT Testing apply to my business?

No matter what industry your business falls under, PAT Testing applies to you. Whether your business operates from a warehouse, office, or education setting, all your portable electrical appliances which are fitted with a plug to connect to the main electricity supply will need to be PAT Tested.

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Is PAT Testing a legal requirement?

Managing your electrical equipment is a must. Under the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, you’re legally required to make sure that any risks that stem from work-related activities are assessed and managed – and that includes, of course, your portable electrical equipment.

Your electrical safety responsibilities don’t stop there. As an employer, you’re governed by the Electricity at Work Regulations 1998 and are required to make sure that any electrical equipment that could cause harm or injury is maintained in a safe condition.

How often should PAT Testing be done?

There are several factors that determine how often you should conduct your PAT Testing including the industry your business falls under, the type of electrical appliance, and how often it’s used.

What are Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 appliances for PAT Testing?

  • Class 1 appliances have basic insulation and relies on an earth for protection so therefore needs a full PAT Test. Examples of a Class 1 appliances include refrigerators, microwaves, and toasters.
  • Class 2 appliances have two layers of insulation and therefore need a PAT Insulation Test. Examples of a Class 2 appliance include computers, photocopiers, and most plastic power tools.
  • Class 3 appliances don’t need to be PAT Tested at all because they require a lower level of voltage. Examples of a Class 3 appliance include torches, cameras, and mobile phone chargers.

According to pat.org, there are no specific requirements for PAT Testing frequency because of the different business situations that can arise, but there are some recommendations based on your type of business.

How often should PAT testing be done in shops/offices/hotels?

Class 1 equipment such as stationery and IT equipment should be tested every four years. Moveable equipment like extension leads and hard drives should be tested every two years and handheld equipment should be tested every 12 months.

How often should PAT Testing be done in schools/college/universities?

All Class 1 equipment in education settings should be PAT Tested annually and class 2 equipment should be tested every four years.

How often should PAT Testing be done in hospital and healthcare settings?

Along with carrying out required risk assessments, healthcare settings are expected to maintain any electrical equipment if it can cause harm or danger. Although the law does not specify how often settings are expected to carry out electrical testing, the CQC states that ‘Providers should decide what level of maintenance is needed according to the risk of an item becoming faulty, and how equipment is made.[1] As with employers, healthcare service providers are expected to ensure that all portable electrical equipment is safe and suitable to use.

How often should PAT Testing be done in industrial buildings?

Occupants are often working to tight schedules and regularly use a wide variety of appliances so there is an increased risk of accidents and damage. All 110V equipment used on sites should be PAT Tested every three months.

How often should PAT Testing be done in construction sites?

The tough and sometimes chaotic environment of construction sites plus the frequent use of handheld tools means they are exceptionally high-risk environments. Like industrial buildings, all 110V equipment used on sites need to be tested every three months.

[1] https://www.cqc.org.uk/guidance-providers/gps/nigels-surgery-52-portable-appliance-testing-calibrating-medical-equipment

What is involved in a PAT Test?

There are two aspects to PAT Testing that can establish if an appliance or piece of electrical equipment is safe to use. The first method is by checking the equipment visually, and the second is by testing its operation. If you want to make sure that your business’ PAT Test is thoroughly carried out to the required standard, we recommend a qualified engineer with extensive experience conduct it for you.

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How to prepare for a PAT Test

To help you get started, we’ve outlined some key things to look out for when carrying out your visual inspection including:

  • Damage to cables and plugs
  • Evidence of unsuitable operating conditions e.g., the presence of water
  • Damage or faults to the equipment
  • Evidence of overheating or discolouration
  • Problems arising from the equipment in use

Who can do PAT Testing?

The person responsible for your PAT Test must be competent to do so. By competent, we mean someone who has the right experience, capability, and attitude.

While a visual inspection of your electrical equipment can be carried out by someone who doesn’t necessarily have in-depth knowledge and training, your competent person needs to have:

  • In-depth knowledge and experience in carrying out PAT Testing
  • The correct equipment to conduct the checks
  • Experience using the testing equipment
  • The ability to interpret the test results

What happens if a PAT Test fails?

If an item fails its PAT Test, that means that the item is unsafe to use in its current condition and you’ll need clarity on why it’s failed. If the item needs small repairs such as fuse replacements or loose wiring, this can be corrected on the spot, but larger repairs would need further action.

Should equipment be labelled to show it has been tested?

Keeping a record of all your testing is essential to maintaining the required standard of electrical safety in the workplace. A key part of record-keeping is labelling. Each tested appliance should be appropriately marked to record the examination date and the result of the test (pass or fail). The due date for the next test should be decided by the duty holder as part of the general risk assessment.

How can Citation Fire & Electrical help?

We know how important PAT Testing is to protect everyone on your premises and keep your business compliant which is why our engineers are NAPIT and NICEIC qualified so they can carry out the job to the highest standards.

But it doesn’t stop there. Our accredited engineers are also qualified to carry out your Fixed Wire Testing, provide you with an Electrical Condition Inspection Report (EICR), and perform Fixed Appliance Testing (FAT) should you need it.

To get in touch with our team to see how we can support your business, click here.