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

PAT Testing (Portable Appliance Testing) is a service that assesses a company’s electrical appliances and electrical equipment, to make sure they are all in good working order. Whether the equipment is a kettle or a bank of computers, electrical safety must be checked and certified as safe to use.

Which types of business does PAT Testing apply to?

A portable appliance is any electrical equipment that is fitted with a plug and connects to the mains electricity supply or a generator, and can be moved. PAT Testing therefore applies to virtually every business, and it’s a process that is designed to ensure the safety of those personnel who use the electrical equipment, and anyone who may be exposed to risk if it fails.

How does PAT Testing assess the safety of electrical equipment?

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. Both of these assessments can establish whether equipment can be passed safe to use.

A brief visual check by the user can form part of an organisation’s electrical inspection procedures, however a formal visual inspection, made by a competent person may also be required periodically. Frequency of each type of assessment depends on the type of equipment being used, and the environment it is used in.

The user should be encouraged to check:

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

In addition to the checks listed above, a more formal visual inspection should be carried out regularly, by a competent person. More systematic than the basic visual inspection, a formal visual inspection covers additional checks such as plug wiring , fuses  and terminals.

Electrical risk based on your business setting

Offices/shops/hotels

Low risk: Electrical items are rarely moved and so are less likely to be damaged. There is very little specialist equipment on site.

Class 1 equipment including stationery and IT equipment should be tested every 48 months. Moveable equipment such as extension leads, and portable equipment should be tested every 24 months. Handheld equipment should be tested every 12 months.

Schools/college/university

Low-medium risk: Electrical items are rarely moved and there is little specialist equipment, however the occupants (children are more prone to accidents and potentially cause damage).

All Class 1 equipment in schools should be PAT tested every 12 months. Class 2 equipment should be tested every 48 months.

Hospitals and healthcare settings

Low-medium risk: There is a very large amount of electrical equipment on site that is used frequently, often in a fast-paced environment, and is therefore more subject to wear & tear, damage, or misuse.

Industrial buildings

Medium risk: Occupants are often working to fight schedules and regularly use a wide variety of different types of appliance, meaning there is a greater chance of accidents and damage. All 110V equipment used on sites should be tested every 3 months.

Where equipment is used by the public

High risk: It is considerably more difficult to monitor the use of electrical appliances and so there is a vastly increased risk of human error. Stationery 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 sites

Extremely high risk: The tough and sometimes chaotic environment of construction sites plus the frequent use of hand-held tools means they are exceptionally high-risk environments. All 110V equipment used on sites should be tested every 3 months.

Combined formal inspection and PAT Test

A combined formal visual assessment and PAT Test should also be carried out periodically. This process identifies some of the most dangerous faults, including problems that are not revealed by a visual inspection alone, for example, a broken earth wire or contamination on internal surfaces.

The combined formal inspection and PAT Test should be conducted by a trained and qualified engineer, with a much greater degree of competence.

How frequently should I have our electrical equipment PAT Tested?

The frequency of all equipment testing and inspections should be managed by the ‘dutyholder’ within your organisation, and a judgment is made according to risk, which includes things like type of equipment, its age, manufacturer’s guidance, modifications and working environment, all of which affects risk.

The dutyholder will be required to scheduled a PAT Test by a qualified expert, according to their judgment on risk.

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Should equipment be labelled to show it has been tested?

Record keeping is an important process in maintaining high standards of electrical safety in the workplace, and central to this is labelling. Each 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 dutyholder, as part of the general risk assessment.

PAT Testing is required to ensure your business complies with The Electricity At Work Regulations 1989, and many insurance companies will insist this is done before they will start or renew a policy. Failure to comply with regulations could also void existing insurance cover.

If you would like to know what PAT Testing requirements you need to have in place, talk to Citation Fire & Electrical. They can provide all the advice you need to comply with regulations, and keep your working environment a safe place to be. Book a free appointment now.

Call today to book an appointment, and ask for a quotation.