FAQs – Frequently asked questions about PAT Testing
PAT Testing FAQs
Everybody would like tidier cables under their desks, but most people have messy cables – you’re not alone. However getting tidy cables is easier than you think, and we can do it fairly easily.
Firstly when we’re testing we’ll tidy a bit automatically; we’ll make sure that the right plugs are in the right sockets based on where the appliance is in relation to the sockets making it safer for you if you need to unplug in a hurry and better for us when we next come to test.
Then if you really need a good sort out we can come in when you are not working, and pull out all your cables, get rid of the ones not in use, and tidy up what is left, so all cables run neatly. We’ll reduce the number of extension leads in use, we’ll even label plug tops so you know which plug is for which appliance, saving you from accidentally turning off the wrong appliance again.
You’ve just bought a new kettle for the office, but you missed the PAT tester, does the kettle need testing now? Will you have to call the tester back out and pay a call out fee?
If you can be sure the new items have been purchased from a reputable supplier, are genuine manufactured and not counterfeit, British Standard with UK plugs on then there is probably no reason to get the item PAT tested before use. If you are at all unsure, then you should.
If your office is small, with say 5 desks, we’d need around 1.5 hours to complete; if you have 20 desks which is about 150 items we’re going to need a bit more time; it could be done in 3-4 hours if conditions are right. We usually estimate to be able to test 30-50 items in an hour in an office, so 200 to 300 is about average per day.
Larger offices, call centres, business centres etc will need a site visit to predict time but as an example an office with 100 desks, is around 750 items, will take a few days to complete for one engineer – we’d probably bring 2-3 to reduce the time on site, however, this will mean more disruption for you as more staff will be off at the same time, so we need to weigh up the best options.
In a normal environment like a small business, a per item rate tends to be best, but if your office is big like a call centre then you’ll likely find an hourly/day rate to be more cost effective. In some offices we could test 30-50 items in an hour; on an hourly rate you’ll save money, against per item rates. We will quote you for both options and you can decide on the preference, just remember if you choose per item and we end up doing 100 items more than expected, but in the same time, you’ll pay for the extra 100 items – if you’d gone for the time-based price; you wouldn’t.
- Price per item, or
- Hourly/day rate
Most offices have a server system which terrifies the office manager when the PAT tester is in – worry no more; we don’t switch them off, nor do we insist on it. In fact, if it was safe when it was installed, it’s probably safer if we just leave it well alone.
A server should be maintained by an IT technician who will keep it in a good working state; even those really messy ones are usually functioning well.
If you can organise a time, even a different day, when the server can be shutdown to be fully tested that would be ideal but because the risk is very low, and the server is in effect a fixed/stationery asset it should only need one test every 4-5 years.
We have the option of a doing a thermal survey to find any unusual hot spots and can check the earth is functioning on the racks.
If you do want the server testing but don’t want the disruption we can work with you outside normal business hours to get this job done.
Every detachable part of an appliance that requires mains power to operate needs testing, and will be recorded as another item. So for example, a computer workstation has a monitor and PC; each with a detachable IEC lead – so that is 4 items. An extension lead will be another, a second monitor is 2 more items, and so on. When we count how many items will be tested this is what we are counting, and when you are charged on a per item rate you will be charged for each item… if you’re unsure how many items you have you may find it more beneficial to pay our hourly rate than a rate per item, as the costs can quickly mount up.
How many items you have is confusing, and you’re never going to be able to count everything if you have a big office, but we do need an approximate amount so we know what to quote for and so that we know roughly how long the job will take so we know how much time to allocate for the appointment.
As an example; a PC and monitor combination is 4 items, as there is the PC base unit, plus its power lead, the Monitor screen and its power lead – that’s 4 items. If they happen to have low voltage power packs then there may be extra items; if they are powered via an extension lead that is another item. There may be a lamp on the desk, a phone charger, even a printer.. it all adds up.
Around the office there will be other printers, copiers, laminators, heaters, fans, radios, kitchen appliances, etc.
What we do is for every desk (one PC and one Monitor) we multiply that by 8 which gives us a rough idea of how many appliances will be in the full office. So if you have 20 desks, we’ll multiply that by 8 to get 160 items; we’ll quote based on that.
Power leads that detach from an appliances, such as the IEC lead from the PC, the lead is tested on its own as a separate item. This is because the lead could be faulty, which would affect the results of the PC test, but also as the lead or PC could be moved and be used attached to a different appliance or lead. The lead is considered to be an appliance on its own.
When counting how many items for testing you have, remember to count the leads.
A PAT test is like an MOT; it’s as good as the day it is done. An electrical appliance can be damaged later that day or any time after, making it unsafe, which is why it is good practice to retest as often as a risk assessment recommends, and to ensure you are doing your own in-house checks before use. Checking appliances regularly ensures any faults are found and dealt with, hopefully before they become a major issue, but by doing so you should be doing enough to satisfy investigators in the event of an accident. That is why we PAT test. PAT, or Portable Appliance Testing is a process to make sure electrical equipment fitted with a plug is safe to continue using, and is an important part of health and safety.
You need to PAT test electrical equipment as often as your risk assessment suggests, or the HSE guides, whichever method you choose. Some people prefer to get equipment tested annually to save the bother, whilst easier, this may not be the best option for you. Read more on our PAT testing frequency page.
This depends on the job requirements, we always recommend you contact us to discuss your requirements, from which we can provide you with a PAT testing quote. Our average price is just 90p per item
Not usually, new items do not need testing if you are sure they are from a reputable supplier however if you have the slightest doubt, and by the fact you are asking the question there may be an argument to recommend that new items are PAT tested for you.
We do recommend that you register new appliances with register my appliance, to be notified if any recalls are released for your new items.
It depends on your company policy but most would say no; guidance suggests not; that new electricals need PAT testing – providing you are sure the appliance is from a reputable source. If so it should be British Standard, and should have been safety tested before leaving the factory. If you get appliances tested regularly new equipment will be picked up by the tester when the next testing period begins. For further guidance refer to the HSE or your speak to us directly.
You are legally required in the UK to operate a business or organisation in line with the regulations, requirements and guidance of Health and Safety. Where electrical safety is concerned we have to consider the:
Not complying with these regulations is very serious and can result in fines, even imprisonment. One of the easiest and most recognised methods to help you comply with these regulations is PAT testing.
The law requires employers and the self employed to ensure that all electrical equipment that they provide for their business is safe and correctly maintained. As PAT (portable appliance testing) confirms safety it should be an important part of your health and safety regime.
A PAT test Certificate is like an MOT – it’s only as good as the day it is done; it confirms that the equipment listed was tested, and passed at the time it was tested. After that it is up to you to maintain safe equipment, until the next time it is tested, which is dependent on a risk assessment. (read more…)
If you are sure they came from a reputable supplier than they shouldn’t need PAT testing. New equipment should be safe when manufactured, and are tested before leaving the factory, so there should be no need for you to have to PAT test them before using them (read more…)
It depends on the situation; if there has been an electrical accident at work and you can’t prove that your electrical equipment is safe; it is possible you will. (read more…)
Surge protectors is designed to protect electrical equipment from voltage surges, and they should be used to protect important equipment (more…)
PAT Testing has been systemically carried out in the UK since the 1980s because it is seen as an effective way of minimizing electrical risks in the workplace.
Periodic PAT testing helps organisations to follow Health and Safety Regulations, such as The Electricity at Work Act (1989) and the UK Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (1998).
By having a managed programme for inspection and testing you are more likely to find and deal with potential electrical problems before they become too much of a major issue.
Electrical systems and equipment left unchecked are likely to degrade which could lead to further issues – both financially and in terms of health and safety legislation.
When the plug can’t be accessed we can carry out an earth continuity test on the appliance, using the nearest socket or spur.
If the appliance is wired directly into the mains, we can also test that, but there is a bit more involved in that process so see our page on Fixed Appliance Testing.
It is always recommended that the equipment of other users of your facility have their equipment tested – how do you know it is safe otherwise? If their equipment starts a fire will your insurers validate the claim?
Electrical equipment should be tested inline with a risk assessment.
Risk assessments should be carried out on the electrical equipment you use, to determine the most appropriate testing procedures.
We do not turn off or shut down server systems – it is up to you to do that.
We recommend you make arrangements for your server to be shutdown to be tested either for this appointment, or we can arrange a more convenient out of hours solution. A server system should be tested at least once in five years.
If the server can’t be turned off (or has been tested once in the last five years) we will carry out the best visual inspection we can on each part of the appliance.
We may carry out a thermal survey on the server – we don’t provide you with images of this, unless excessive hot spots are detected
We don’t turn back on servers that have been turned off – its up to you to do that
Yes; we do not do this as standard, but if you require microwave ovens testing, let us know.