In: Portable Appliance Testing

Portable appliances testing (PAT) are an important sector in health and safety regulations which contain legal and technical requirements. It has been recorded by the Health & Safety Executive that 25% of all reported electrical accidents are a result of faulty portable appliances. The Electricity at Work Regulations applies legal responsibility on employers and employees in order to act accordingly with the provisions of regulations and take reasonable steps to ensure that no accidents result from the use of portable appliances, which is why portable appliances testing (PAT) is important. Portable appliances testing (PAT) depend on the risk of the appliance 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 what type of testing certain appliances require because the type of testing carried out varies depending on the size and usage of portable appliances. Portable appliances which weigh less than 18kg require testing to ensure that all portable appliances are able to move from one place to another whilst in use, this includes:

Hand – Held appliances testing – these are appointed to be held during normal use, e.g. a hair dryer.
I.T appliances testing – computers and mains powered photocopiers.

Portable appliances testing (PAT) is completed by a qualified portable appliance tester or a trained portable appliance tester and there are several procedures involved when testing portable appliances. One method of portable appliances testing (PAT) is through visual inspections where the PAT tester visually scrutinizes portable appliances, in particular the plug and cables will endure testing for any clear signs of hazard. This is an affective method on how to test portable appliances because according to the HSE this approach to testing portable appliances can find more than 90% of faults, thus, it is a vital mechanism for the maintenance of portable appliances. An additional approach of how to complete portable appliances testing (PAT) 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 PAT testers advise that the plug is not to be tampered with.

An added procedure on how to complete portable appliances testing (PAT) is through combined inspections and PAT testing which is completed at periodical intervals where it is vital that testing maintains adequacy. During these intervals a formal visual inspection is completed followed by portable appliances testing (PAT). Whilst testing portable appliances it is essential that the interior of the plug is checked (unless it is moulded or sealed), in this case of PAT testing procedure bad internal wiring or an unsuitable fuse would classify the item as hazardous.

In the formal inspection of the testing of portable appliances 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