Portable Appliance Testing Experts
Based in Tyneside, we cover all of the North East of England
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Through risk-based PAT testing, we help you stay compliant
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PAT Testing Frequency – Intervals between tests
To fully comply with the safety regulations for health and safety in the workplace electrical appliances must undergo a 3-stage process to prevent danger occurring, leading to potential electrical accidents and fires, including:
User checks – should be carried out by the user of an appliance before the appliance is switched on, and any issues should be reported, to be corrected before continued use
Formal visual inspections – should be carried out in-house by a trained competent person on equipment, at regular intervals, in keeping with the recommended frequencies from the IET and or HSE
Combined inspection and testing – should be carried out by a competent contractor with the skills to use a PAT testing machine to carry out detailed tests to check the internal workings of the appliance, following a thorough inspection of the appliance parts.
If you have a system in place that utilises parts 1 and 2, then there is no reason why the intervals between inspections and tests in part 3 shouldn’t be at their longest (e.g. 4 years for IT equipment in an office).
However, if you do not have these systems in place, and few businesses do, then it is not recommended to extend the interval between combined inspections and tests to longer than 12 months.
The frequencies between PAT Tests is dependent on the risk; the risks taken into account include the use of the appliance and the environment it is used in; some also suggest that the classification of the appliance should also be taken into account but we find in the most part, this just over complicates what is already a complicated system. We like to keep things simple, and find that this system, generally does, whilst ensuring you remain compliant with HSE guidance.
Here’s some examples
In a high risk working environment like an industrial workshop or on a building site power tools are used; the environment is generally dirty, often damp and cold, and equipment regularly gets dropped, knocked and mistreated. Thus appliances incur damage which needs regular repair. Users tend to do quick fixes mostly involving insulting tape (not a spelling mistake).
As a result there is a requirement that appliances are tested every 3 months, at the longest stage.
In the same environment they also recommend office equipment is tested at least, every year.
At the other end of the scale in a warm, clean, office staffed by people in suits who dust their desks computers tend to remain safe for a long time; they’ll be placed on a desk and are unlikely to move until they are replaced, so the HSE recommends tests every 4-5 years. However, it also recommends in-house formal visual inspections are carried out every 2 years by a person who is competent in electrical safety – this rarely happens, which is why a lot of office based businesses get equipment tested every year. However, you could save yourself a year’s expense; if you’re not going to do the 2-yearly in-house inspection get us to do it, or as we recommend; do the PAT tests every 2 years, thus ticking all the boxes and keeping everyone happy.
There are many environments in-between these two ends of the scale but most places can be grouped together into the following:
High risk – industrial, workshops, building sites – hand tools – every 3 months
Medium to high risk – Factories, catering kitchens – every 6 to 12 months
Medium risk – School equipment used by students, public use equipment (in hotel bedrooms, community centres, etc.), Any environment where nothing is done in-house, equipment that is moved a lot, equipment for mobile discos and bands – everything should be tested at least annually
Low to medium risk – office equipment in the medium to higher risk categories – 1-2 years
Low risk – Office based businesses, shops – everything should be tested every 2-4 years dependent on in-house systems
Of course the best recommendation any PAT company can give is to have appliances tested every 12 months as a maximum term as a there is a risk that damage can occur in between times, and we know this because every PAT company fails appliances; it is rare to do a job where something doesn’t need a repair at least.
Also you may not know this, but even if you use a PAT company, you are still responsible for ensuring your appliances are always safe to use, so better to be safe than sorry – get appliances tested regularly.