Portable Appliance Testing

Portable Appliance Testing for Health and Safety

Experienced PAT testing Company (est. 2009) – rated No. 1 in the North East – CHAS accredited

Portable Appliance Testing in Health and Safety

Health and Safety at Work has been around a long time; the modern world we all live and work in brings with it health and safety challenges for every business owner and manager. In todays modern world, safety standards are considerably higher than they have been in the past, and society won’t tolerate a business that recklessly fails to protect its employees from unnecessary risks.

There are countless tools out there to help, but running a business has so many head banging issues to keep up to date with, mainly associated with whatever it is you do, keeping on top of other ‘less meaningful’ tasks just don’t seem important. This is why its essential you utilise other businesses that can help you maintain a safe workplace, with minimal input required from yourself.

We can help you to manage and maintain safe electrical equipment – something you are required to do for Health and Safety at Work. This process is called Portable Appliance Testing.

Portable Appliance Testing also known as PAT Testing is an inspection of electrical equipment, correctly known as “In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment“. It is a legal requirement that electrical appliances are safe to be used in the workplace – a PAT Test helps you to meet those requirements.

What is Portable Appliance Testing and why do I need it?

Portable Appliance Testing is a term given to cover the inspection and testing of electrical equipment to ensure each item is safe to continue using. Known more as PAT testing, Portable Appliance Testing is what “PAT” stands for. There are other names too but these are the main terms. The idea of the process of this inspection is to make sure an electrical appliance is safe to use, because anything that is powered by electricity can be very dangerous if it becomes faulty.

Electricity is ever present in the workplace, it’s usefulness taken for granted so it is not even considered as a workplace hazard.

When all your electrical equipment is working fine you have nothing to worry about, and this is often where people misunderstand the point of a PAT test. The client gets a report and they see a big list of items that ‘passed‘; even some less experienced people within our industry think this is the whole point of what we do.

Electricity is a serious workplace hazard that can electrocute (kill), burn, start fires and cause explosions – so next time you get a PAT Test done pay attention to the company you choose, and the engineer that tells you about repairs they have done, or the report that lists items that have failed.

When we do a job we tell the client about repairs – the may seem unimportant to you but an incorrect fuse or a damaged plug is dangerous, and fixing those problems is the whole point of doing what we do.

a range of electrical appliances that will need portable appliance testing

Electrical appliances are designed to keep us safe

We’re not going to get into the scientific theory of electricity or how it works, or even the detail of the safety measures put in place to protect users, but the biggest problem with electricity that arises is when the ‘flow of current’ moves through a person rather than through a wire or conductor.

As an appliance user you are protected from electricity by the insulation in its metal conductors (wires) and the appliance itself. The danger arises when people come into contact with the wires or other conductive metal (such as the metal case on the back of your PC).

Faulty electrical equipment may overheat, leading to a fire; or an overloaded system may overheat as too much current passes through it.

What makes electrical equipment dangerous?

Portable electrical equipment (as opposed to electrical equipment that is fixed to a building) presents one of the biggest electrical problems for most workplaces – think computers, kettles, heaters, hair driers, etc.

The main problem with portable electrical equipment is that each item has a flexible insulated electric cable which is used to connect the appliance to the mains via a plug and socket, that can be easily moved around your workplace. Therefore, as it can be easily moved it can also be easily damaged and tampered with. Some of these cables even detach from the appliance and can be used with other items, so keeping track of portable equipment is another problem.

A high proportion of electric shock accidents at work involve portable electrical equipment. Here are some examples of why these incidents occur:

  • Incorrect use of the equipment
  • Incorrect environment for the equipment
  • Misuse of equipment – putting cables under rugs
  • Mistreating equipment – such as pulling the plug out whilst holding the cable
  • Allowing incompetent personnel to carry out repairs – such as people who don’t understand correct fuse sizes
  • Allowing poor repair work to take place – such as taping up a split in a cable
  • Continued use of defective equipment
  • Failing to routinely inspect, test or maintain electrical equipment.

Portable electrical equipment can be a workplace hazard, whether it’s your toaster, laptop charger, PC, hair drier or drill. If you aren’t aware of the hazards and you don’t take steps to control them, you may be exposing your employees and other users to the risk of electric shock.

Inspecting and Testing your electrical equipment

If you don’t look after your electrical equipment, you will find that it won’t be too long before it starts to deteriorate.

The only way to ensure your electrical equipment maintains a safe standard is to ensure they’re regularly checked to make sure they meet the appropriate standards; and to repair them if they’re not. Therefore you need a preventative maintenance programme that includes regular inspection of your equipment.

The aim is to inspect and test equipment, and have repairs carried out before it develops a fault that can lead to danger.

Regular Portable Appliance Testing is the best way to achieve this.

How often do you need to inspect electrical equipment?

How often you need to inspect electrical equipment varies from item to item, and is generally dependent upon:

  • The manufacturers recommendations
  • Experience of use or from inspections
  • Type of equipment
  • Use of the equipment
  • Environment the equipment is used in

Some appliances need to be checked more often than others but whilst there is guidance on retest periods, it should always be based on an initial 2 inspections for example; if the first inspection yields a high number of repairs, then the second inspection is the same there may be argument to do the 3rd inspection in a shorter timeframe.

Many health and safety compliance companies require all equipment to be inspected annually, because they feel that this is the most appropriate timeframe between inspections to maintain safety standards. In some circumstances, annually is not often enough; whilst in others it is too often.

Inspections should include maintenance such as to damaged cables and plugs.

In order to comply with Health and Safety requirements you need to keep records to confirm that you are doing what needs to be done to ensure safety standards are met. We provide you with a PAT Testing Certificate Report which includes all the data needed.

What Portable Appliance Testing gives you

All electrical equipment used in workplaces, or for work use, need to maintain acceptable safety standards at all times; how you do that is up to you, but in the event of an incident, investigation or claim you need to be provide evidence that confirms you have done as much as you can to ensure your equipment is safe. 

The best and most recognised method for checking an electrical appliance is safe is a Portable Appliance Test (aka PAT test); and following the test you will be issued with a PAT testing Certificate Report, which is an accepted document that proves you have taken action to check your equipment is safe. 

The Portable Appliance Test checks electrical equipment to make sure it is safe, by utilising the knowledge of the engineer, and the tests carried out by a PAT tester machine. If faults are found the engineer will be able to repair some, and if it is beyond repair, the engineer will fail the appliance, taking it out of service and eliminating the risk, thus preventing an accident occurring. 

If you keep doing PAT on a regular basis, proportionate to a risk assessment for the appliance and working environment, you should be able to keep the appliance safe, thus removing the risk of an accident occurring, thus Portable Appliance Testing is the best preventative maintenance you can do to protect your business and your equipment users. 

Checking how safe workplace electrical equipment is has been getting done since the introduction of the Electricity at Work Regulations in 1989, and following guidance from the IET Code of Practice’s introduction in 1994.

In order to check an electrical appliance is safe it needs to be inspected visually by a competent person and tested using a ‘PAT tester‘. These are encompassed in the practice of electrical PAT testing, which confirms whether or not an appliance is safe following inspection and testing. If you require your electrical equipment PAT testing get in touch with us today

seaward Apollo 600 local pat testing portable appliance testing machine

Portable Appliance Testing FAQs

What is involved in a Portable Appliance Test?

A stringent PAT test will involve a thorough inspection of the appliance by a trained engineer to include the plug, fuse, flexible cable and appliance itself.

If there is damage to the appliance, or the engineer observes anything that gives them concern they need to take action to remove the danger, which could be to repair the appliance or remove it from use.

You can expect the person doing your PATs to also check your appliances are being used correctly, such as making sure extension leads aren’t being overloaded, and wires aren’t messy and causing undue stresses.

You will be told if plugs have been replaced, or if an appliance has failed the inspection; and what it failed on, and what you need to do with the appliance, which could include getting it repaired by another profession.

Electrical tests will be carried out on some appliances (they don’t all need them), but these could include checks for earth (safety) continuity, insulation resistance and polarity in cables.

Every appliance that is checked and passes, will be labelled with a Passed PAT testing label that shows the date of the test and given ID number.

How often do you need Portable Appliance Testing?

Regular PAT testing (aka Portable Appliance Testing, or electrical equipment testing), a safety procedure carried out on electrical equipment used in workplaces, will help you to comply with the workplace regulations.

Regular PAT testing helps you to keep appliances safe, giving users peace of mind that the equipment they’re using isn’t going to hurt them.

Regular PAT testing also helps to protect your business, as it reduces the chances of an appliance being misused which may lead to a fire.

In the UK, under Health and Safety at Work Regulations, the Electricity at Work Regulations (1989) makes your obligations quite clear – “All systems shall at all times be of such construction as to prevent, so far as reasonably practical, such danger“. This means that you need to make sure that your electrical systems (wiring installation and appliances that plug into it) are always safe to use. So, businesses and other owners/managers of work places like schools, hotels, doctors surgeries, hair salons, etc. need to observe regular testing protocols to minimise the risk.

It is considered best practice to Pat test portable electrical equipment (in most workplaces) once a year; and in some higher risk locations, more often than this.

Although there is no legal requirement to do annual PAT testing, it is considered best practice, and tends to be the most acceptable process, especially if you don’t have risk assessments in place.

Also, keep in mind, if you allow other businesses to operate on your premises (like mobile disco’s in hotels), their equipment needs to be PAT tested too – and to protect your own policies you will need to check this.

What does a PAT test involve?

Risk Assessment

Our engineers do a visual risk assessment of every appliance before they unplug it or test it, to make sure there is nothing to put them at risk.

Visual Inspection

Our engineers inspect the appliance, using their eyes, hands and tools. No testers are used at this point. They check plugs inside and out, check fuse, check the cable etc. The purpose of this is to make sure all safety measures are correct, such as the fuse, earth lead, etc. This is an essential part of the inspection.

Earth Continuity Test 

This test is to make sure the earthing protection is functioning correctly.

Insulation Resistance Test

This test is carried out to make sure the resistance of the appliance’s insulation is correct.

Polarity Test

Polarity tests are carried out to determine whether the wires of the appliance are correctly connected.

Other tests

Dependent on the appliance other tests, such as microwave emissions tests and RCD tests could be carried out.

The engineer will decide what tests are appropriate.

What are the benefits of PAT Testing?

PAT testing improves safety in the workplace as is required by the Health and Safety at Work Act

✅  Regular electrical inspection and testing helps you ensure electrical equipment is safe

✅  PAT assesses the suitability of an appliance for the environment it is being used in (to help you comply with) The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998

  PAT testing records can be used to demonstrate compliance with the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 

✅  Regular PAT testing helps you to comply with The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

✅  Regular electrical tests in rental property help you comply with The Housing Act 2004 (England and Wales)

✅  PAT tests before the start of a tenancy help a landlord comply with The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s guidance

✅  Regular PAT tests help you comply with The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016

✅  If the plug of an appliance doesn’t meet the Plugs and sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994 we will change it for one that does.