All electrical appliances, over time, will deteriorate as they are working units made up of various components, and they are used by people who may be careless with them.
Similar to the MOT on your car, it is important to ensure you carry out regular checks on the condition of the appliances used in the workplace.
Regular checks will help to identify any defects or faults that have developed that could require maintenance, and will ensure the continued operation of the appliance in a safe effective manner.
Those who check appliances at the shortest recommended intervals are more likely to maintain their appliances in the safest and most effective manner – we find that clients who get appliances checked annually for example, rarely need to get extensive repairs done or appliances replaced.
The process for checking electrical appliances is known as inspection and testing of electrical equipment; such equipment that can be unplugged from the mains supply come under the scope of ‘portable’ appliance testing.
The checks that are carried out are categorised into two types, and each could be done separate to the other or together; in one location you should expect to see both checks carried out on certain appliances, however it may be acceptable for only the visual element to be carried out at intervals.
We would recommend that you get only competent, trained personnel to carry out these checks; there is no requirement for that person to be an electrician.
A visual check should not be underestimated; it is a check carried out by an experienced, competent person to identify any visible signs of damage, deterioration or poor DIY practices.
Additionally the visual check should include a functional test, and an assessment of the risks surrounding the appliance.
No actual (machine) tests are done during the visual inspection, although the appliance does need to be unplugged.
The engineer will need to be given access to all locations at your site, and you’ll need to ensure any appliances usually locked away are made available for checking.
Below is a check list of the things you can expect to be looked at during a visual inspection.
- Plug – inside and out
- Flexible cable
- Appliance itself
- General environment
We will repair the existing plug, or replace it, and replace fuses as part of the standard service (standard BS1363 230v plugs only).
We will provide you with any recommendations or observations for improvements.
For some appliances; the visual inspection is all that is necessary; for others, tests at alternate intervals may be recommended.
Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)
A portable appliance test identifies and damage, deterioration and defects inside the appliance or power cord being tested; it checks the connections for earth and insulation safety plus polarity in the wiring; any faults there in may lead to incidents or accidents later, and should be corrected.
The PAT ‘tests’ look at the inside of the appliance whilst the inspection looks at the outside. The PAT will identify any hidden defects that cannot be seen during a visual inspection.
The purpose of the portable appliance test (also known as the PAT Test), is to determine, so far as is reasonably practicable, whether the appliance is in a safe condition for continued use.
It is important, to comply with workplace safety regulations to maintain safe standards in portable appliances, for confirming which, regular inspections and testing are necessary.
On completion of the inspections and or tests, a Portable Appliance Testing Report and Certificate will be issued to the customer. This report lists all appliances that have been checked, and gives each a unique identification number that relates directly to the number printed on the label that has been attached to the appliance.
The label reflects the date the appliance inspection or test took place; it is recommended generally that appliance inspections and or tests should be carried out on an annual basis to best maintain safe equipment, although the HSE recommends anywhere between every 3 months and up to 5 years dependent on various factors. It is important not to ‘guesstimate’ intervals but to carry out appropriate risk assessments to determine the appropriate frequency.
We work with our clients to determine what is the best ‘pat testing frequency’ for their business needs.
It is difficult to predict how long you should expect the work to take, although we’re likely to provide approximate guidance in the estimate we provide you with. Typically we’d expect to complete checks on 20-30 appliances per hour, or 150 to 250 per day dependent on the working environment.
We would check (plus label and record) each detachable part of the appliance, that works off mains electricity including the cords, power supplies and or the unit itself, operating at all voltages up to 415 volts.
Any appliances fixed at height may need to be brought down to a lower level to be tested
Any appliances that cannot be turned off may need for alternative arrangements to be made, such as with server systems
What will a PAT tell me?
A PAT report will provide a full itemised list of all the appliances and their detachable parts in your workplace (or owned by you if you’re mobile), and will confirm whether they comply with the current British Standards and regulations for electrical safety.
It will record any observations and make various recommendations where improvement may be necessary for improving safety in your workplace (this usually comes as a separate document to the main report).
With the PAT completed we will provide you with a certificate confirming compliance with the regulations.
If any appliances fail the checks you will be advised of what best to do with them; if they are to be repaired, they should be checked before going back into service.