With around 1,000 electrical accidents at work reported to the HSE every year, a program for inspecting and maintaining electrical equipment is a must for any business owner or manager who takes their health and safety responsibilities seriously. Portable appliance testing, commonly known as PAT testing, is a process used by many companies as a structured way of meeting those responsibilities. While PAT testing is not a legal requirement, it demonstrates that measures to maintain electrical equipment are in place. Typically, each piece of equipment will be inspected periodically and a PAT test sticker will be applied stating the date on which the appliance was tested and who conducted the test.
What is involved in a PAT test?
This varies depending on the nature of the appliance and the environment in which it will be used. However, the first step should always be a thorough visual inspection of the unit. Particular attention should be paid to vulnerable components such as power leads and control panels. Any signs of wear or damage should be noted and assessed for impact on the safety of the item. PAT test labels can be used for this purpose.
The operation of the appliance should also be tested. In some cases, this will amount to no more than turning the machine on and checking that it performs as expected. For industrial appliances, however, it may be necessary to perform more thorough testing with dedicated tools. The law specifies that testing should be carried out by someone who is competent to do it, so if no one at your company is familiar with the inner workings of an electrical device, it would be wise to enlist the services of an electrical engineer to perform the test. It may be convenient to have all your appliances tested at the same time, so that all the test labels will bear the same date.
How often must PAT tests be conducted?
When it comes to routine inspections, the law does not stipulate how frequently most appliances must be checked. However, many firms prefer to have their equipment tested annually as this demonstrates a responsible attitude towards safety in case they are audited by the HSE or other official body. Of course, some equipment may require more frequent inspections, such as industrial lifting equipment under LOLER.
How should PAT testing be recorded?
Once again, there is no statutory obligation to record the results of inspections. However, should an incident occur, thorough records of rigorous testing can provide evidence of a conscientious attitude to health and safety. PAT test stickers are small test labels which attach to the appliance which has been tested. Each label should clearly state whether the device has passed or failed the inspection. Other information found on most PAT testing stickers are the date the test was conducted or the date the next test is due, and the identity of the inspector. Come to Label Bar for PAT testing stickers and other labels of all kinds.