Understanding the requirements for Portable Appliance Testing
Portable electrical appliances are manufactured to meet British safety regulations; thus, new appliances should be safe to use. Over time, with use, movement, etc. they can become damaged and suffer from wear and tear – external damage can occur, repairs may be done incorrectly and excessive force may lead to safety components being affected.
The Electricity at Work Regulations under the Health and Safety at Work Act require anyone who provides portable electrical appliances to be used at work by staff or other users, to ensure that the appliances are always maintained to be safe to use.
Portable electrical appliances include anything that is fitted with a plug and intended to be plugged in whilst in use; they do not need to be easily portable by a person lifting and moving them.
The provider should always be sure that the appliances they provide are safe; to do that the appliances require inspection and testing by a competent person, known as portable appliance testing. This should be done periodically, proportionate to the risk.
The provider will also need to consider their own company/regulatory body policies, and insurance requirements when determining appropriate periods between inspections and/or tests.
Portable appliances undergo inspections and testing dependent on their classification and environment they’re being used in, the combined programme is often referred to as PAT testing, as this includes other tests such as microwave emissions and point to point testing.
Whether an appliance requires inspection only, or testing too, is dependent on the risk analysis; as is the frequency between them.
Frequencies vary from one month to 5 years dependent on the appliances and environment although it is recognised that annual testing is most appropriate in most circumstances.
If you choose to have an alternate period it is your responsibility to ensure appropriate documentation is in place, maintenance, user checks and inspections are carried out at appropriate interim periods.