Have a quick look around your office or workspace and count how many electrically powered items you can see. Chances are there will be quite a few! You may have lamps, computers, printers and other peripherals, phone chargers and more, and all require connection to the mains electricity supply.
It’s the same in the home, and in any place where people work; in shops, tills and other items need electrical power, and in many other workplaces there is a constant requirement for electrical equipment.
Safety is very important when it comes to the use and maintenance of electrical equipment. Electricity can be dangerous, even in low-voltage items, and especially at high voltages, so all such equipment needs to be checked for safety and correct operation regularly. That’s where PAT – or Portable Appliance Testing – comes into the picture.
What is PAT?
PAT is a method of testing portable electrical equipment in the office or workplace, in order to comply with legal requirements in the UK and Ireland (and in some other countries, where it may be found under this or another name).
It involves a designated tester using specific equipment, who checks all appliances are wired correctly, earthed suitably and working as they should be, and are in good condition and safe to use.PAT Testers can do this for you.
The test will involve a visual check – to look for frayed cables, for example, or other damage – and also physical tests of the equipment itself for faulty operation. A label is applied that states whether the item has passed or not, and a date given for the next test.
Should the item fail, it needs it be isolated and not used until it has been fixed and checked again for safety reasons. The tests vary depending upon the type of equipment being tested, and there are many devices available – PAT Testers – that can be used to ensure the correct results.
Why Is PAT Vital?
First, as we have mentioned, PAT testing is a legal requirement for workplaces of all kinds in the UK and in Ireland. It is worth noting that this requirement does not apply in the home. However, all householders are bound by law not to expose visitors to private properties to unreasonable risks.
Also, PAT testing ensures that equipment is safe, operating correctly and will cause no harm is used as it should be. All records of PAT tests must be kept for 5 years and be available for inspection if required.
In a low-risk environment, PAT testing can be carried out by someone who is proven to be competent, as it will involve mainly visual checks such as looking for frayed cables or other broken connections.
For more complex or powerful equipment, it may be necessary to bring in a third party to do the job, as this will require some level of expertise and understanding of what is involved. Alternatively, you may wish to have members of staff trained in PAT testing, which awards them a certificate enabling them to do the job.
One area that is important is that, should you need to take equipment off site – perhaps for use somewhere else – you need to ensure you have the PAT certificate ready for inspection. This is a safety requirement throughout the UK and Ireland.
PAT testing is a simple and effective method of ensuring that everyone is safe in the workplace, and that your electrical equipment is functioning properly and poses no threat of harm to the user. Check out the information on PAT training and testers, and make sure that you have regular routine checks of all your appliances.