What is PAT Testing?
Portable Appliance Testing or PAT Testing is the process of checking electrical appliances for safety through a series of visual inspections and electronic tests.
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, Regulation 4 (2) states: 'As may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems (defined to include portable electrical equipment) shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, such danger'.
Essentially this means that duty holders are required to maintain portable electrical tools in a safe condition.
PAT can be carried out in house by a person with the correct equipment and competency
Do I need PAT Testing?
The best way of ensuring that your appliances are safe is to have a PAT test carried out on them. This is a good way for landlords to ensure that they are meeting their legal obligations to maintain high standards of electrical safety in their rented property.
To establish the safety and suitability of your electrical appliances, the competent person will carry out a visual inspection of the appliance, its plug and lead. For Class I equipment they will also inject test signals into the cable and appliance to ensure their integrity.
It is important to note that performing a Portable Appliance Test doesn’t just consist of plugging a piece of equipment into a PAT tester and seeing if it passes or fails. Portable Appliance Testing also encompasses the recording and upkeep of records.
Who can do the work?
Electrical work must only be carried out by people who have the necessary knowledge, skill and experience needed to avoid danger to themselves and others.
There are four main pieces of legislation that are applicable to Portable Appliance Testing; these are the pieces of legislation that essentially gave rise to Portable Appliance Testing in its current form. The first three are:
1. The Health and Safety at Work act 1974 – This applies to employees and employers at work and places a duty of care on everyone to ensure their own safety and that of others
2. The management of Health and safety at Work Regulations – To ensure that the Health and Safety at Work Act can be implemented properly, every employer has to carry out risk assessments to ensure that employees, and those not in their employ are not subjected to any danger
3. The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 – This ensures that the employer is responsible for supplying equipment that is suitable for the purpose for which it is going to be used
These three pieces of legislation are essentially the driving force behind the need for Portable Appliance Testing. To meet the criteria of the legislation the employer has a duty to ensure any equipment, in this case electrical, that is supplied is safe to use.
The next piece of legislation is important because it is the driver behind whom and how the Portable Appliance Testing is carried out:
4. The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
There are two very important definitions within theses regulations, which are:
Electrical system – This relates to anything that generates, stores, transmits or uses electricity.
Duty holder – This is anyone who has control of an electrical system. This means if you are working with or testing electrical systems you are deemed to be in control, and hence the Duty holder. As a Duty Holder you have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of yourselves and others when in control of an electrical system.
Why are these two definitions important? If you are performing a Portable Appliance Test on a piece of electrical equipment, you are the duty holder and you are in control of the electrical system, which means that your safety and everyone else’s is your responsibility.
This then ties into what could be considered the key regulation from the Electricity at Work Regulations which is Regulation 16 – Persons to be competent to prevent danger or injury.
Basically this regulation states that unless you have the correct technical knowledge or experience to perform a task, or are under supervision by someone who does, you should not perform that task if it is likely to cause harm or injury.
So this is essentially saying that unless you have the experience or knowledge to perform a Portable Appliance Test you shouldn’t be doing so.
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