Portable Appliance Testing is a the process in which electrical appliances are regularly and routinely checked to ensure their compliance with safety regulations. It is required by self-employed people, landlords and employers. Though no set rules are determining the frequency for PAT Testing, different appliances, conditions and circumstances may call for regular checks. It is only specific that all equipment and appliances be tested as regularly as possible to ensure they are in optimal working condition.
Guidelines for PAT Testing
There are guidelines and recommendations for the regularity of PAT Testing of different equipment and facilities, based on the risk levels and conditions to which the appliances and equipment are exposed. These guidelines and recommendations are explained briefly below:
In offices, hotels and shops, all stationery equipment, IT equipment that is classified as Class 1, must be checked every forty-eight (48)months. Portable equipment and partially movable equipment like extension leads should be monitored every twenty-four(24) months. All appliances that are hand-held must be checked every one year.
Industrial institutions and sites, including commercial kitchens, should have their hand held appliances and portable equipment checked every six months. This is in consideration of the intensity of working conditions that these appliances and equipment are exposed to.
All construction site equipment with a capacity of 110V should be checked every three months while in schools and other social places, all Class 1 equipment and appliances should be tested every twelve months, with Class 2 equipment and appliances tested every forty-eight months.
Equipment that is used more should be tested more regularly since the exposure to damage and malfunction is higher.
People using appliances should be sensitized to report any hitches as soon as they are noticed to create time for checks, thus avoiding major hazards.
PAT Testing is done using specific tools and by trained individuals.These tool kits range from beginner to advanced, and the prices vary too. The choice of tools and machines to use in PAT Testing will be determined by the simplicity or complexity of the appliance being tested, and also by the variety of the appliances being tested.
PAT Testing Certificates
PAT Testing certificates are issued to companies whose appliances have been tested and certified as compliant.The certificate indicates that the company’s appliances are fully tested and in compliance with the set safety standards, checked regularly and free from damage/risk.
PAT Testers use certificate templates to prepare certificates for compliant companies.The certificates are well detailed and include details of the specific appliances, the details of the test and the test report, which is the result showing any defects detected or noted in the appliance, and or the recommendations for repair or replacements. Appliances that fail this test should be repaired or summarily disposed of and replaced.
PAT Testing forms are issued only by qualified contractors who have been certified by the NICEIC/ECA. Persons performing PAT Testing and issuing certificates are certified as skilled and competent by the certifying body.
Importance of PAT Testing
PAT Testing is an important factor in ensuring the safety of workers at the workplace. In the UK, it is reported that an approximate of 30 industrial personnel deaths is a direct result of appliance malfunctions each year. The aim of PAT Testing is to help avoid these deaths and safety related incidents. Portable appliances that are connected to electricity including but not limited to printers, toasters, blenders, fridges, and ovens are responsible for twenty-five(25) percent of all workplace accidents in the UK each year.
Adhering to the Health and Safety Executive’s PAT Testing guidelines will help make a company a safer place for all personnel, as well as satisfying requirements set by insurance companies.
PAT Testing Technology
In this age of technological advancement, most PAT Tests now have computerised machines specially designed for them like Fluke and the Seaward Apollo 600 which can be seen here. These machines are briefly described below:
Mainly designed for the in-house testing personnel, these are typically easy to use and cheaper as compared to other models. Some come fitted with a rechargeable battery while some are connected to the Mains and require AC power to operate. These simple machines indicate either Pass or Fail, with dedicated lights for each function. They also show polarity, insulation resistance and earth continuity.
Advanced PAT Testers
This is a category of testers that process and display more information than just pass and fail. The readings on these machines require analysis by a qualified technician. They are highly effective since they record information and test status of appliances, as well as having the capacity to interpret earth continuity resistance at different levels of precision, thus enabling the testing of a variety of sensitive devices.
It should be clearly termed as a benefit to companies institutions to comply with PAT Testing guidelines and regulations to ensure a safer, more conducive and efficient work environment for personnel.