Over the years ‘Health & Safety’ has become a focal point in the UK. To keep members of the public and employees safe, the government has put in place Laws, Acts, and Regulation to ensure employers have a set of guidelines to abide by. For example, The electricity at work regulation of 1989, Health and Safety at work act of 1974, The provision use of work equipment regulations of 1998 and The management of health and safety at work regulation of 1999. In this article we will focus on 1 of the requirements under these acts (PAT Testing), Specifically we’ll look at PAT testing in the workplace.
What is PAT Testing?
Portable Appliance Testing is a examination of electrical products. The test verifies the safety of these appliances and confirms if their fit to use. The following checks are undertaken as part of PAT testing.
- A visual inspection of the cables and the appliances to check for any significant damage such as, split cables or exposed components.
- Insulation test. This measures the quality of insulation that protects any part of the appliance that carries a current.
- Earthing continuity test. This is done to determine if the earthing conductors are suitable and able to protect against electric shock.
PAT tests are not massively time consuming and can be completed by connecting appliances to a PAT testing device. Appliances that pass the test can continue to be used. Appliances that fail must be unplugged and removed from service immediately. Its considered good practice to label individual devices with a PASS/FAIL label. However, this is not mandatory by law.
Who can PAT Test?
In order to carry out a PAT test, you must be deemed as competent and hold a valid PAT Testing certificate. In addition, the individual must have the following:
- Adequate knowledge of electricity.
- Experience of electrical works.
- An understanding of the system to be tested.
- Practical experience of the system to be tested.
- Aware of the possible hazards that can arise during test.
Electrical testing in the workplace
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, it’s the employer’s responsibility to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of employees. Furthermore, it’s the employer’s duty to ensure all equipment is safe to use. The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 also holds the employer legally responsible for any damage or injury caused by poor electrical maintenance. Although the regulations do not specify PAT testing as a legal requirement it is still a crucial part of electrical maintenance. In fact, failure to complete a PAT test can invalidate your insurance policy.
Recommended checks to be carried out;
Hotels, Offices and Shops: Appliances that fall under the class 1 category – IT and stationary devices are to be tested every four years. Be that as it may, the recommended time is much shorter for portable equipment (every 2 years). Lastly, handheld equipment should be tested every year.
Public Use: Stationary equipment and IT systems are to be tested every year if they are used by members of the public. Class 2 appliances, those that don’t require an earth connection are subject to an annual test. Handheld and portable equipment shall be tested every 6 months.
As well as protecting your employees and customers, PAT testing also helps limit the risks of electrical accidents such as, fire, death, electrical shock, and injury. It is important that you understand the necessity of complying with the regulations of health and safety. Failure to comply with them may result in fines, legal action, or imprisonment.
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