PAT Testing Frequently Asked Questions
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- What is a Portable Appliance?
- Basically any item of between 40 and 240 volts that is fitted with a lead and plug would be defined as a portable appliance. Typically this would include PC’s, printers, monitors, TV’s, kettles, heaters, lamps, microwave ovens, power tools, photocopiers, vending machines and even extension leads.
- Is Portable Appliance Testing a legal requirement?
- An employer or landlord is legally required to ensure all equipment used on its premises is maintained in good working order. This means that appropriate measures must be taken to ensure all electrical items do not present a danger. This obligation is explained in the Electricity at Work Regulations 1998.The Provisions & Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1992 also highlight this obligation.PAT testing is the only effective method for complying with the regulations governing the use of electrical equipment. Without a programme of planned appliance testing and maintenance you could be legally liable for fines and damage claims if staff, customers or tenants sustain injury arising from an electrical fault.
- How often do items have to be tested?
- This varies depending on the type of appliance and the environment in which it is used. It is also dependent on your risk assessment and maintenance schedule, however there are guidelines to help. For example, a high risk item such as an electric drill should be tested more frequently than a low risk item such as a photo copier. The level of usage of the appliance will also influence the testing frequency. A machine used daily should obviously be tested more frequently than one used occasionally. It is the employers responsibility to assess the risk and implement its PAT testing programme. To ensure compliance it is best to have all items checked on an annual basis.
- Could I not conduct PAT tests myself?
- It would be feasible for you or a member of your team to conduct PAT tests, but the person must be a competent to do so. This means being trained and qualified. Additionally, it is necessary for a portable appliance testing meter to be available, plus a range of small electrical tools and components. A specialist contractor such as 0800 HANDYMAN avoids this expense, and will be able to complete the testing programme faster than someone who is only doing testing on an occasional basis.
- Do you have to unplug machines?
- Yes, to be tested machines must be disconnected from the mains and plugged into the testing meter.
- So what about servers and other critical systems?
- If it is not practical to disconnect a critical machine then we will simply undertake a visual inspection, however the machine would need to be available for test at a suitable time, for example during a planned maintenance shut-down.
- How long does a test take?
- The duration of a PAT test will obviously depend on the number of individual items to be tested and their accessibility. As a guide, a typical workstation, equipped with PC, printer, phone and 3 x IEC leads would take about 15 minutes to test and re-connect.