Portable Appliance Testing (commonly known as PAT or PAT Inspection or PAT Testing) is a process by which electrical appliances are checked for safety. The correct term for the whole process is In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment.
Electrical appliances that people use in a workplace must maintain safe standards legally, so the responsible people of that workplace must put measures in place to ensure appliances do not become dangerous to prevent harm to users; regular portable appliance testing is an acceptable and the most widely recognised preventative measure against electrical appliances becoming dangerous.
Portable appliances are any electrical appliances that connect to the electricity supply via a plug and socket combination.
A portable appliance is not defined as an appliance you can carry.
Appliances need inspecting and testing at intervals proportionate to the risks involved; the HSE makes some good recommendations but you should carry out your own on-site risk assessment to determine the most appropriate intervals between tests for your location.
Alternatively many people consider the easiest way to maintain portable appliances is to get them PAT tested every year.
The Health and Safety Executive states that 25% of all reportable electrical accidents involve portable appliances.
The Electricity at Work Regulations place a legal responsibility on employers, employees and self-employed persons to comply with the provisions of the regulations and take reasonably practicable steps to ensure that no danger results from the use of such equipment.
To comply; the implementation of a systematic and regular program of maintenance, inspection and testing is considered to be good practice.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 places such an obligation in the following circumstances:
- Where appliances are used by employees.
- Where the public may use appliances in establishments such as hospitals, schools, hotels, shops etc.
- Where appliances are supplied or hired.
- Where appliances are repaired or serviced.
The level of inspection and testing required is dependent upon the risk of the appliance becoming faulty, which is in turn dependent upon the type of appliance, the nature of its use and the environment in which it is used.
Testing frequencies can cause concern with many companies testing for testing sake; a process of regular inspections mixed with testing when required is considered acceptable practice.
British law states that all appliances need to be ‘safe’ (as far as is reasonably possible).
If you need further advice we recommend you check out the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) who recommend PAT testing from 3 months for construction equipment to up 2 years for office IT equipment, for example.