In: PAT Testing

PAT testing appliances is an important sector of health and safety policies and there are both legal and technical requirements. It has been stated by the Health & Safety Executive that 25% of all reported electrical accidents are a result of faulty appliances. The Electricity at Work Regulations apply legal responsibility on employers and employees in order to act accordingly with regulations and take reasonable steps to ensure that no hazards result from the use of appliances. PAT testing appliances should also be completed to maintain the health and safety at work. PAT testing appliances depends upon the risk of appliances becoming faulty.

The National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (NAPIT) define portable appliances 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 PAT testing certain appliances require because the type of PAT testing carried out varies depending on the size and usage of appliances. Appliances which weigh less than 18kg require PAT testing to ensure appliances are able to move from one place to another whilst in use. Different PAT testing appliances include:

Hand – Held appliances which are appointed to be held during normal use, e.g. a hair dryer.

Stationary appliances, these are appliances which weigh over 18kg and are not provided with a carrier handle, e.g. a refrigerator.

Fixed appliances, equipment which is fastened or secured to a specific location, e.g. a bathroom heater.

Appliances for building in. This is equipment which is to be installed in a prepared area, such as a cupboard.

I.T appliances such as computers and mains powered photocopiers.

Appliances which require PAT testing are completed by qualified PAT testing engineers and there are several procedures involved in PAT testing. One way how to complete portable appliance tests (PAT) is through visual inspections where the individual who is PAT testing visually scrutinizes appliances, in particular the plug and cables will require tests for any signs of hazard. This is an affective PAT testing method on appliances because according to the HSE this approach to PAT testing appliances can find more than 90% of faults, thus, it is a vital mechanism for the maintenance of appliances.

An additional approach to PAT testing appliances 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 an individual partaking in PAT testing is advised that the plug is not to be tampered with.

PAT testing procedures can also be carried out through combined inspections which measure the degree of protection to maintain adequacy. During these intervals a formal visual inspection is completed followed by PAT testing. When PAT testing it is essential that the interior of the plug is checked (unless it is moulded or sealed), in this case of PAT testing bad internal wiring or an unsuitable fuse would classify the item as hazardous.

In the formal PAT testing inspection 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 testing 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