PAT Testing Frequency
PAT Testing frequency is a subject of much debate, and your opinion will differ somewhat dependent on your experience with electrical appliances, the type you use and the dangers you come across.
Some people say portable appliances don’t ever need testing and others say they should be tested at least once a year whilst others suggest a risk based approach is best.
The former by the way are wrong – portable appliances do need testing; faults do develop (not all the time but they do) and those faults can be life or building threatening; which is why legal regulations require you to keep electrical equipment maintained to a safe standard.
Also remember that to comply with the health and safety at work act every one is responsible for safety; remember that next time you log into your computer or use a power tool – make sure it’s not damaged in any way or missing important parts.
Some people argue that insurance companies should insist on regular PAT Tests for their buildings policies and some insurers do require annual checks; some even offer discounted premiums if you can show them in-date PAT testing Certificates.
The argument for PAT Testing every year
PAT Testing annually is widely regarded as best practice; and it makes it easier for businesses. All workplaces are required to ensure their portable appliances are safe to use at all times; are maintained to be so but there are no set stipulations of how this should be done – a business can employ a handyman to maintain their equipment but few can afford that luxury – regular PAT tests are considered an acceptable alternative and generally cheaper.
Portable appliance testing is an acceptable preventative measure; done correctly the engineer will not only test the equipment but make sure any maintenance needed is done or raised to you.
PAT tests done annually too should flag up any issues and the engineer should be competent enough to do most repairs.
The Risk based approach to PAT Testing frequencies
A risk based approach is another alternative which makes a lot of sense – some equipment is low risk and won’t need annual tests whilst other appliances should be tested more often than once a year.
For example – you buy a computer for your office; put it on the desk, plug it in and it stays there until it needs replacing 3-5 years later – has it ever moved? Unlikely, so what faults have occurred? Probably none. Chances are the most movement it’ll ever have is when the PAT Tester moves it and pulls its leads out to be tested!
That’s not to say the computer should never be tested, but it certainly doesn’t need testing every year.
But a laptop computer moves all the time; the laptop itself doesn’t need a test as it works off an internal battery but it’s power lead does need checking, annually is a good time frame.
A drill used in a factory or on a building site will get used a lot, it’ll get chucked onto benches and dropped, it’ll get dirty and it’s cable will get cuts and nicks – it needs testing more often. The user should check it every time but it should be tested by a competent person every 3-6 months.
Different appliances in different environments need different PAT testing frequencies but if you follow the guidance available this can lead to a very confusing situation. We have our own recommended frequencies which we talk to our clients about, taking into account the guidance provided by the IET and HSE.
If you want to discuss what we can do for you check out our PAT Testing Frequency page which includes a form to complete so we can arrange an appointment with you.