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PAT Testing FAQs

Fuse checker in PAT test

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We regularly get asked about PAT tests, what they are for, what they cover, and the legality behind them, so we have put together this comprehensive PAT testing FAQs list to answer all of your PAT testing questions.

1. What is PAT Testing, and why is it important?

A PAT test is a routine inspection carried out on various electrical appliances to ensure that they are in good condition and safe to use. It should be done regularly, with clear and concise records being kept.

Over time, electrical equipment can become damaged, develop faults, or become defective for several reasons. Using electrical appliances or equipment that isn’t safe can be a potentially deadly risk. By carrying out a PAT test, you will ensure that your equipment is in good working condition and that you are following the Electricity at Work Regulations and meeting health and safety standards.

‘PAT’ stands for Portable Appliance Testing, but this name is quite misleading, as there is no definition of what a ‘portable appliance’ is in the current wording of the legislation. However, it’s mostly interpreted to mean any appliance with a plug attached to it that plugs into a wall outlet.

Due to this, seven different categories of appliances should be considered when PAT testing.

  • Stationary Appliances, e.g. refrigerator, washing machine
  • IT Equipment, e.g. computer, monitor, telecoms device
  • Portable Appliances 18kg or less, e.g. toaster, mixer
  • Moveable Appliances 18kg or less, e.g. electric fire, fan heater
  • Hand-held Appliances, e.g. hairdryer, hand drill

A standard PAT test will cover the following:

  • A visual inspection of the cables and appliance itself, identifying any significant damage such as split cables, exposed elements/metal parts or other external damage
  • An insulation test measuring the quality of the insulation that protects any parts of the appliance carrying a current
  • An earthing continuity test, determining whether earthing conductors are suitable to protect against electric shock

These tests can be carried out relatively quickly, and if the appliance is deemed to be in a safe condition, then it can continue to be used.

However, equipment that fails a PAT test should be removed from service immediately, as it poses a potentially high risk to your workplace. Equipment that is maintained to a reasonable level and passes the test can be marked with a PASS sticker, whilst it is good practice to mark equipment that fails with a FAIL sticker to ensure that it remains out of use until sufficiently repaired.

2. Is PAT testing a legal requirement?

The current legislation states that businesses must maintain their electrical equipment in a safe condition, as they have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of employees and the public.

Because of this, PAT testing is an effective way to meet this legal responsibility, particularly in high-risk environments or large companies requiring a standardised method of ensuring electrical safety.

The current legislation relating to the maintenance of electrical equipment in the workplace includes:

If this legislation is not adhered to, it can result in criminal punishment, including unlimited fines and even imprisonment in the most extreme cases.

3. Who is responsible for appliance safety?

In all circumstances at work, the employer is responsible for maintaining electrical appliance safety and keeping records of this up to date.

To keep to all legal requirements, we would strongly recommend using the services of a qualified electrician, like our team at SFM.

4. What are the ‘classes’ of PAT testing?

For the purpose of PAT testing, appliances are split into three categories of associated risk. With Class 1 being the most dangerous and 3 being the least.

These class ratings determine to what degree the appliance needs to be tested to ensure it is working safely.

Class 1:

These appliances only have basic insulation and generally rely on an earth ground for protection.

Class 2:

These appliances are usually double insulated or have higher levels of protection, making them safer than class 1.

Class 3:

These appliances are low-voltage items, making them the safest of all three classes.

5.  How often should appliances be tested?

As mentioned above, the class of appliance dictates its associated risk and, therefore, how often and how rigorously it should be tested. As well as this, the type of appliance mentioned at the start also affects this. The final deciding factor is the environment the appliance is situated in. Class three appliances do not necessarily require a test. However, it’s always a good idea to carry out visual inspections and get a professional to check if in doubt, ensuring safety within your workplace.

Generally, both class 1 and 2 appliances should be checked yearly. However, it’s advisable to have appliances checked every 3-6 months in more high-risk environments to ensure safety.

Sussex Facilities Management

Here at SFM, we carry out expert PAT testing with our MPAT service. The MPAT service has been designed to give you complete peace of mind, offering scheduled service, so you always know that your equipment is being checked on time, every time.

If you’d like to find out more about our MPAT service and how we can best help your business, then get in touch today on 01444 812 171, or visit our website: https://sussexfacilitiesmanagement.co.uk/pat-services/.

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