Introduction
PAT testing or portable appliance testing is an important part of any health & safety policy.
 
The Health & Safety Executive states that 25% of all reportable electrical accidents involve portable appliances. The Electricity at Work Regulations place a legal responsibility on employers, employees and self-employed persons to comply with the provisions of the regulations and take reasonably practicable steps to ensure that no danger results from the use of such equipment. This in effect requires the implementation of a systematic and regular program of maintenance, inspection and testing. The Health & Safety at Work Act (1974) places such an obligation in the following circumstances:
  •  
  • 1. Where appliances are used by employees.
  • 2. Where the public may use appliances in establishments such as hospitals, schools, hotels, shops etc.
  • 3. Where appliances are supplied or hired.
  • 4. Where appliances are repaired or serviced.
 
The level of inspection and testing required is dependant upon the risk of the appliance becoming faulty, which is in turn dependant upon the type of appliance, the nature of its use and the environment in which it is used.
 
The Institution of Engineering and Technology (The IET) publish the "Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment" (ISBN: 978-1849196260).
 
Legal Requirements
The legislation of specific relevance to electrical maintenance is the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
 
The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 puts the duty of care upon both the employer and the employee to ensure the safety of all persons using the work premises. This includes the self employed.
 
The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states: "Every employer shall make suitable and sufficient assessment of:
  •  
  • (a) the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst at work, and
  • (b) the risks to ensure the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him or his undertaking."
 
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states:
"Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair."
 
The PUWER 1998 covers most risks that can result from using work equipment. With respect to risks from electricity, compliance with the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 is likely to achieve compliance with the PUWER 1998.
 
PUWER 1998 only applies to work equipment used by workers at work. This includes all work equipment (fixed, transportable or portable) connected to a source of electrical energy. PUWER does not apply to fixed installations in a building. The electrical safety of these installations is dealt with only by the Electricity at Work Regulations.
 
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 states:
"All systems shall at all times be of such construction as to prevent, so far as reasonably practicable, such danger."
"As may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far as reasonably practicable, such danger."
"'System' means an electrical system in which all the electrical equipment is, or may be, electrically connected to a common source of electrical energy and includes such source and such equipment"
"'Electrical Equipment' includes anything used, intended to be used or installed for use, to generate, provide, transmit, transform, rectify, convert, conduct, distribute, control, store, measure or use electrical energy."
Scope of the legislation
 
It is clear that the combination of the HSW Act 1974, the PUWER 1998 and the EAW Regulations 1989 apply to all electrical equipment used in, or associated with, places of work. The scope extends from distribution systems down to the smallest piece of electrical equipment.
It is clear that there is a requirement to inspect and test all types of electrical equipment in all work situations.
 
Who is Responsible
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) requires, every employer to ensure that work equipment is suitable for the purpose for which it is provided, only used in the place and under the provisions for which it is provided. It also requires every employer to ensure work equipment be efficiently maintained and kept fit and suitable for its intended purpose. It must not be allowed to deteriorate in function or performance to such a leval that it puts people at risk. This means that regular, routine and planned maintenance regimes must be considered if hazardous problems can arise.
 
Regulation 3 of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 recognises a responsibility that employers and many employees have for electrical systems.
 
"It shall be the duty of every employer and self employed person to comply with the provisions of the Regulations in sar far as they relate to matters which are within his control.
 
It shall be the duty of every employee while at work:
(a) to co-operate with his employer so far as is necessary to enable and duty placed on that employer by the provision of the Regulations to be complied with: and
(b) to comply with the provision of these regulations in so far as they relate to matters which are within his control."
 
Portable Appliance Equipment
There are many European standards and guidance notes regarding portable appliances and equipment, though they do not establish a common and specific definition of such equipment. Even so, there does seem to be a consensus of opinion that such equipment is either hand held whilst being connected to the supply, or is intended to be moved whilst connected to the supply, or is capable of being moved without undue difficulty whilst connected to the supply.
 
It is usual for this equipment to be connected to the supply via a plug and socket, however this is not a requirement for electrical equipment to be deemed portable or transportable. It is common to define a portable appliance by saying that it is 'anything with a plug top on the end of it'. This is a mistake as it may mean that there are some appliances in the system that are never tested.
 
The National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (napit) define a portable appliance as 'any electrical item which can or is intended, to be moved whilst connected to an electrical supply.'
 
The IEE Code of Practice gives guidance on the various equipment types:
Portable appliance
An appliance of less than 18kg in mass that is intended to be moved whilst in operation or an appliance which can easily be moved from one place to another, e.g. vacuum cleaner, toaster, food mixer, etc.
Movable equipment (transportable)
 
This equipment is either:
18 kg or less in mass and not fixed, e.g. electric fire.
or
Equipment with wheels, castors or other means to facilitate movement by the operator as required to perform its intended use, e.g. air conditioning unit.
Hand Held equipment or appliances
This is portable equipment intended to be held in the hand during normal use, e.g. hair dryer.
Stationary equipment or appliances
This equipment has a mass exceeding 18kg and is not provided with a carrying handle, e.g. refrigerator.
Fixed Equipment/appliances
This equipment or an appliance which is fastened to a support or otherwise secured in a specific location, e.g. bathroom heater.
Appliances/equipment for building in
This equipment id intended to be installed in a prepared recess such as a cupboard or similar. In general, equipment for building in does not have exposure on all sides because one or more of the sides, additional protection against electrical shock is provided by the surroundings, e.g. built in electric cooker.
Information technology equipment
Information technology equipment includes electrical business equipment such as computers and mains powered telecommunications equipment, and other equipment for general business use, such as mail processing machines, VDU's, photocopiers.
 
PAT Testing Labels
All equipment that has been tested and inspected must be clearly identifiable. This usually achieved by labelling the equipment with a PAT Testing label.
 
The label/sticker must contain the following
 
  1. Unique identification code to enable equipment to be indefinable
  2. The status of the equipment following the testing ie. PASS or FAIL
  3. The date the equipment was tested together with the re-test period or the re-test date
 
The above information on the label is designed to enable the equipment to be easily identifiable even if several similar items exist within the same premises and also indicate to a non-technical user if the equipment is due for re-testing or should not be used.
 
Additional information contained on the label may include fuse rating, engineers initials, company name or logo.
Many modern PAT testers are able to read bar-coded labels and this is particularly suitable for the identification code. Barcodes should ideally contain both the barcode and the numerical number underneath.
 
Labels or stickers can vary in design but should be of suitable quality that they can readily stick to a variety of surfaces. They should also be durable and hard wearing to such an extent that they are capable of withstanding the period between testing without deterioration. The label should be positioned in a prominent position where it can be clearly seen.
 
Equipment failing the inspection and testing must be put beyond use and clearly labeled with a sticker indicating that it has failed.
 
Our PAT Testing Service
We undertake all aspects of of PAT Testing in domestic, industrial/commercial and agricultural environments.  We offer a friendly & reliable service and our prices are very competitive.  If your equipment does not display a label and it should, or even if you are unsure whether it needs to be tested, please call us 01736 851291 or 07936 728580 to discuss your requirements.  
 
 
 
For more information on PAT Testing click here