In: Portable Appliance Testing

Portable appliance tests (PAT) are an important sector 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 regulations and take reasonable steps to ensure that no accidents result from the use of a portable appliance, which is why portable appliance tests (PAT) are important. It is imperative that portable appliance tests (PAT) are completed in order to maintain the health and safety at work. Portable appliance tests (PAT) depend 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 tests ensuring that a portable 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 portable appliance tests? Portable appliance tests are completed by a “competent” portable appliance tester and there are several procedures involved in portable appliance tests.

One way how to complete portable appliance tests is through visual inspections where the engineer 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 portable appliance tests because according to the HSE this approach to portable appliance tests 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 tests of a portable appliance 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 tests is advised that the plug is not to be tampered with.

In the formal inspection of portable appliance tests 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 tests 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