Whether you work in an office, a factory or shop – or anywhere else – you will certainly be required to use items that are electrically operated. If you glance around now, you will most likely see a computer, perhaps a heater or lamp, a printer, photocopier and many other electrical items.
Check your office kitchen and you will undoubtedly have a kettle, maybe a toaster or grill, a microwave oven and more; all of these are electrical items, and you need to be sure they are safe and suitable for use.
In the UK and Ireland there is a legal requirement known as Portable Appliance Testing. This is in place to ensure that appliances in the workplace – of various degrees of complexity – are tested for safety and suitability on a regular basis.
The tests are quite simple: there is a visual test in which the tester will check the item for apparent damage, or frayed cables. There are also tests that are carried out using special but easy to use equipment, which can check for faulty earth and other possible problems.
If an item passes, it has a sticker attached that dates the test. Should any equipment fail, the employer must ensure it is not used until it is fixed and tested as safe.
Who Performs a PAT Test?
In the UK and Ireland there is no required qualification for a person to become a PAT tester. The regulations state only that a ‘competent person’ must be designated to carry out the tests.
With low-risk equipment the person can be someone who will be able to spot frayed cables and such obvious problems, but it is highly recommended that your chosen employee is given training in PAT testing, as there are certain areas that may need to be checked using special equipment.
For example, voltage needs to be the correct output, and earthing needs to be present where required and necessary. All connections must comply with the relevant regulations, and where the equipment may be in a situation or environment where decay or damage is likely, it should be checked on a regular basis. However, if the testing will involve any kind of hazard, you might want to Arc Flash for some additional training.
All records of PAT testing are required to be kept for 5 years, and to be available for inspection if required. Furthermore, should equipment need to be used away from the workplace, it should be accompanied by the relevant paperwork for inspection.
There are training courses available for your chosen PAT testing candidates, and they will be of great help in enabling them to carry out the relevant tests on a wide variety of equipment. These will award the individual a certificate of competency that allows them to be the recognised PAT tester for your workplace.
You can also find a variety of PAT testing equipment, from the simple models that have green and red lights for ‘pass’ and ‘fail’, to others that are much more complex and designed for equipment that is above and beyond the norm you would find around the office.
Your trainee will also learn about the additional tests required for some items – microwaves, for example, which must be tested for radiation and other emittance – and will become competent in all areas of PAT testing for the future.
If you are not looking to train an employee, but need your PAT testing carried out expertly, you can always call in a third-party company who will carry out the tests for you. To make sure you have safe electrical equipment around the workplace, train a PAT tester, or engage the services of the experts and make sure everything is correctly checked and logged.