In: PAT Testing

A PAT check is an important factor of health and safety policies which contain legal and technical requirements. The Electricity at Work Regulations apply legal responsibility on employers and employees in order to act accordingly with the provisions of the regulations and take reasonable steps to ensure that no accidents result from the use of a portable appliance, which is why it is important for an appliance to complete a PAT check. It is imperative that a PAT check is completed in order to maintain the health and safety at work; a PAT check depends on the risk of the appliance becoming faulty.

The National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (NAPIT) define a portable appliance as “any electrical item which is intended to be moved whilst connected to an electrical supply”. The IEE Code of Practice highlights regulations on which type of tests a certain appliance requires because the type of tests carried out varies depending on the size and usage of a portable appliance. A portable appliance which weighs less than 18kg encounter a PAT check to ensure the appliance is able to move from one place to another whilst in use, this includes hair dryers, toasters, laptops etc.

What is the procedure of a PAT check? A PAT check is completed by a qualified portable appliance tester and there are several procedures involved in a PAT check.

One way how to complete portable appliance tests is through visual inspections where the PAT tester visually scrutinizes an appliance, in particular the plug and cables will require tests in order to recognise signs of hazard. This is an affective method on a PAT check because according to the HSE this approach to a PAT check can find more than 90% of faults, thus, it is a vital mechanism for the maintenance of a portable appliance.

An additional approach of how to complete a PAT check is through user checks. This procedure is where users are advised on how to avoid any potential danger, for example, a frayed cable or cracked plug. If this is the case then the individual is advised that the plug is not to be tampered with.

An added procedure on how to complete portable appliance tests is through combined inspections and a PAT check which is done at periodical intervals and it is vital the PAT check measures the degree of protection to maintain adequacy. During these intervals a formal visual inspection is completed followed by a PAT check. During a PAT check it is essential that the interior of the plug is checked (unless it is molded or sealed); in this case of a PAT check bad internal wiring or an unsuitable fuse would classify the item as hazardous.

In the formal inspection of a PAT check there are certain signs to be aware of:

• Disturbance to the power cable sheath
• Wreckage of the mains plug
• Overheating
• Damage to external casing of the equipment, or loose parts and/or screws

The formal PAT check procedure should also contain removal of the plug cover and an analysis of:

• The sufficient value fuse being used
• The cord grip has a tight hold of the outer part of the cable
• The Live, Neutral and Earth wires are attached to the correct terminals
• No visible bare wires
• Tight and secure screwing of the terminal screws
• Signs of internal drainage