Formal visual inspections should only be carried out by persons competent to do so; if someone is not competent they could miss something really important. The formal visual inspection is arguably the most important part of the portable appliance testing process.
When PAT testing is done the visual inspection must be carried out before any tests using a PAT machine.
The results of the inspection must be documented.
The following must be considered when carrying out the inspection:
Suitability of the equipment/environment
The equipment should be assessed for its suitability for the environment or the nature of the work being undertaken. When the work environment is harsh or hazardous particular care needs to be taken when selecting the equipment and assessing the frequency of inspection and testing.
A check should be made to ensure the equipment is installed and is being operated in accordance with the manufacturers instructions. Notwithstanding the manufacturers instructions the following are examples of items which should be checked:
Cables located correctly so as to avoid damage
Means of disconnection/isolation readily accessible
Adequate equipment ventilation
Equipment positioned to avoid strain on the cable
Equipment operated with the covers in place and any doors are closed
Indiscriminate use of multi-way adaptors and trailing sockets is avoided; daisy-chain
No unprotected cables run under carpets
Disconnection of equipment
The means of isolation from the electricity supply must be readily accessible to the user, i.e. in normal circumstances it must be possible to reach the plug and socket without to much difficulty.
The condition of the equipment
Prior to the commencement of the users should be asked if they are aware of any faults and if the equipment works correctly. The following items need to be inspected:
The flexible cable; for any tears or abrasions
The appliance casing; is it secure, not damaged in any way
The plug head; inside and out
The following are checks that should be carried out as part of the above, where possible:
Check detachable power cords to Class 1 equipment incorporates a CPC
Richard Ayre is an experienced PAT testing engineer with many years experience and the Managing Director of DRA PAT Testing Limited based in Newcastle upon Tyne. Richard is also the Operations Director for the UK's Portable Appliance Testing Trade Association.