PAT Testing frequency should be determined by an assessment of the risks

PAT Testing frequency should be determined by an assessment of the risks2020-01-16T22:57:48+00:00
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pat testing plugs showing the dates on the pat testing labels

How often should you get PAT testing done?

PAT testing should be completed as often as is necessary depending on the risks associated with the equipment use, and the environment it is being used in. We can assess this and guide you into what would be the most appropriate frequency for your business when we do your testing. When you do a risk assessment you must always consider your insurance policy as that may insist on annual testing, but as a general rule the following usually applies:

  • Equipment that never moves in an office like a server or fixed appliance should be tested every 5 years
  • Other office equipment such as computers should be tested every 2 years (at most)
  • Equipment in a factory or workshop should be tested every year
  • And tools used on a building site should be tested every 3 months

Electrical equipment must be maintained to stay safe; it needs checking through inspection and testing on a regular basis to make sure it stays safe. How regular that is depends on an assessment of the risks. That should be done by performing a risk assessment however you can benefit from our experience; in most environments we can recommend frequencies that the HSE would be content with. 

For example, most environments get appliances tested annually, but that may be too often; when did you last check? We actually recommend that a low risk environment gets its equipment tested every 2 years, rather than every year. 

Do a risk assessment to determine PAT testing frequency

In order to comply with the Electricity at Work Regulations you need to do a risk assessment for all electrical equipment in your workplace; this must include everything from battery operated equipment right up to extra high voltage if you have that. 

That risk assessment will tell you what needs testing, if it needs testing, how often and who by. 

Not all appliances should be tested by a PAT testing company; some such as the really high voltage stuff should only be tested by someone with high voltage qualifications; and mains wiring should only be tested by a qualified electrician. 

As a PAT company we can help you with all electrical appliances up to 230volts that are on a plug or hard-wired, and single phase equipment up to 415 volts powered from an adaptor plug. We can also deal with three-phase equipment although you may prefer to use a high voltage expert for the 415 volts three-phase appliances. 

Your risk assessment needs to take into account the use of the equipment, the equipment classification and the environment it is used in. 

Are you competent? 

If you are not competent (don’t have the knowledge/skills) in electrical testing then you shouldn’t perform the risk assessment, and will need to use someone that is. We can do this for you, or you can invest in a health and safety consultant or fire risk assessor. 

You can check out what the HSE recommends here; although this is based on the perfect scenario and is not an exact match for any location. 

Risk Assessment

If you want help with a risk assessment get in touch by using this form

PAT Testing Frequency discussed in more detail

To comply with health and safety fully appliances need checking by the user before they are used (called a User check), then visually inspected by a competent person at regular intervals, and then (sometimes) less often, inspected and tested by a more competent person, such as a PAT engineer/PAT testing company. 

The first thing to understand is there is no specific legal requirement to test electrical appliances every X months or years, but you need to be able to prove that you’re taking suitable action to ensure equipment stays safe by testing regularly to ensure preventative maintenance. Based on an assessment of the risks it is possible to determine what needs to be done and how often it should be repeated in order to best maintain safety; this is providing other actions are taken in between times.

The reason that there is no set frequency is because different situations arise that call for different measures. There are a number of factors that affect PAT testing frequency and it is up to each individual to determine when testing should be carried out.

Some companies still get appliances PAT Tested every year, and there is nothing wrong with that – some people will tell you that annual PAT tests keep on top of things, and is regarded as the best course of action to ensure equipment stays safe; whilst others say it’s unnecessary – it depends on the risks, and you, as after everything it is you as a business owner or employer that is responsible if an accident occurs. 

Regulations state that the level of precaution should be appropriate to the applicable risk

There are 3 main criteria to consider to determine the PAT testing frequency:

  • The risk level for the working environment
  • The electrical class of the appliance
  • The category of the appliance

The Health and Safety Executive also recommends taking the following into consideration:

  • manufacturers recommendations
  • the age of the equipment
  • the frequency of its use
  • the user of the equipment
  • the suitability for the use of the equipment in the environment
  • potential misuse of the equipment
  • effects of any modifications or repairs

In order to determine how often you should have your appliances tested, you should bear in mind these factors:

  • Equipment that is used/moved more often should be tested more frequently. This equipment is likely to suffer more damage than that used/moved infrequently.
  • If people using equipment report any damages as they become noticeable, and repairs are carried out, there is less chance of an accident occurring later. If equipment regularly receives damage or abuse that is not reported then inspections and testing are required more frequently – such as with power tools on building sites and in factories.
  • The type of equipment in question is a major factor in determining PAT testing frequency. Hand held appliances are more likely to become damaged than those that are stationary. Class 1 appliances carry the greatest risk of danger as they rely on earth AND insulation for safety, so should be tested more often to make sure both are still functional.

Server Systems

Server systems are made up usually of IT equipment, and are stationery appliances, usually powered off a large surge protected socket extension, contained in a controlled ‘cage’ system. A server is usually monitored and maintained by a specialist engineer from an IT team; this should reduce the risk. 

Being stationery IT equipment, that is managed a server shouldn’t need testing as often as say a computer in an office, so it is generally accepted that a full test every 5 years is sufficient; although this should be every 5 years from install, not from the start of a PAT testing programme. 

If interim inspections are required, without unplugging the items there is little an engineer can do but look at what they can see; some companies will still label up each part, which isn’t totally wrong but some would question what they are actually doing. To enhance this, we have a thermal image camera; although not carried by all engineers we can arrange for this to be carried out to check for any overly hot spots in the system. 

Equipment used by the public

Equipment used by the public should be tested on an annual basis to make sure it is maintained in good condition – you should also make sure you inspect it regularly because a year is a long time and issues can occur in-between tests. 

Equipment used in Workshops

Equipment used in workshops can depending on the workshop come under more strain than normal so testing more often should be considered; particularly well maintained workshop equipment may not need testing as often as equipment that isn’t. Equipment that is allowed to remain covered in dirt, grease and grime will deteriorate faster so should be checked more often.