PAT testing is 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 a faulty portable appliance. The Electricity at Work Regulations apply legal responsibility on employers and employees in order to act accordingly with the provisions of regulations and take reasonable steps to ensure that accidents do not result from the use of a portable appliance, which is why it is important to complete PAT testing. It is imperative that PAT testing is completed in order to maintain the health and safety at work. PAT testing depends on the risk of the appliance becoming faulty.
The National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (NAPIT) defines 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 what type of testing a certain appliance should endure because the type of testing carried out varies depending on the size and usage of a portable appliance. A portable appliance which weighs less than 18kg requires testing to ensure that a portable appliance is able to move from one place to another whilst in use, this includes:
• Hand held PAT testing – these are appointed to be held during normal use, e.g. a hair dryer.
• I.T appliance PAT testing – such as computers and mains powered photocopiers.
How is PAT testing completed? PAT testing 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 PAT testing is through visual inspections where the PAT tester visually scrutinizes a portable appliance, in particular the plug and cables will endure testing for any clear signs of hazard. This is an affective method of PAT testing because according to the HSE this approach to testing a portable appliance 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 PAT testing 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 PAT testing is through combined inspections and PAT testing which is done at periodical intervals where it is vital that testing of a portable appliance is measured at the degree of protection to maintain adequacy. During these intervals a formal visual inspection is completed followed by PAT testing. During PAT testing it is essential that the interior of the plug is checked (unless it is molded or sealed), in this case of PAT testing bad internal wiring or an unsuitable fuse would classify the item as hazardous.
In the formal inspection of PAT testing there are certain signs to be aware of:
• Disturbance to the power cable sheath
• Wreckage of the mains plug
• 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