Portable appliance testing (PAT) is an important sector in health and safety regulations. 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 applies 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 portable appliance testing (PAT). It is imperative that PAT testing is completed in order to maintain the health and safety at work. Testing a portable appliance 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 which type of testing a certain appliance requires 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 PAT 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 portable appliance testing completed? Portable appliance testing is completed by a qualified portable appliance tester or a trained portable appliance tester and there are several procedures involved when portable appliance testing (PAT).
One method of portable appliance testing (PAT) is through visual inspections where the PAT tester visually scrutinizes a portable appliance, in particular the plug and cables require testing for any clear signs of hazard. This is an affective method of portable appliance testing (PAT) 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.
Moreover, portable appliance testing (PAT) can also be done through combined inspections which are done at periodical intervals where it is vital that testing of a portable appliance is measured at the level of safety to maintain adequacy. During these intervals a formal visual inspection is completed followed by portable appliance testing (PAT). When testing a portable appliance 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 portable appliance testing (PAT) 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