We use electrical appliances routinely, with the assumption that they are safe for operation. This is no surprise, as there are so many different electrical items around both the home and in the workplace. Even low-voltage items that we use daily are prone to damage, and where electricity is concerned, unsafe use can be very dangerous.
Electricity remains a mystery to most of us, other than that we rely on it for our daily living. This is because it is largely invisible, which is why we take it for granted. At home, we have a basic duty of care to ensure that visitors to our home can use any appliances safely and without risk. This may involve checking items for damage, frayed power cords or loose wires on a regular basis.
In the workplace, there are different legal requirements. Indeed, every employer has a legal duty to ensure that the workplace is a safe and sound environment for the workforce to operate within. This extends to making sure all equipment – including even basic electrical items – is safe to operate. That’s why Portable Appliance Testing – or PAT – is a vital part of the workplace routine.
What is PAT?
Portable Appliance Testing is a routine that is carried out in order to ensure that all appliances used in the workplace that need an electrical power source are safe for use. It is a legal requirement for all workplaces in the UK, in Ireland and in many countries across the world, where it appears with this and other names.
It is actually a simple routine, but one that is essential if you are to ensure the safety of your workforce – whether they are using simple office equipment or more complex electrical devices. In fact, most companies carry out their PAT testing in-house, as it is easy to train someone to carry out the required tests.
There is no requirement for a qualification in PAT testing, although it is advised that you select a set of people who have basic common sense and attention to detail, and put them through one of the many short training courses that you can find – turn to Powerpoint Engineering for details. These may even take place on site for greater convenience.
Your chosen candidates will learn the following:
- What PAT involves and why it is important
- The legal requirements regarding PAT
- What to look for in the basic visual tests – frayed cords, wear and tear, other damage
- What parameters need to be measured
- How to use a multimeter or other measuring device
- Understanding the readings provided
- Recording the results – either by uploading or manually
- What the results mean
- The paperwork that is necessary
- How long records need to be kept
While this may look like a lot of information, it is actually a relatively simple process to carry out a PAT test on regular equipment, so you should have no trouble choosing a team of personnel to train for the routine.
If you have more complex requirements in terms of PAT testing, you might be more confident in using an expert service provider who understands the requirements for PAT in more complicated machinery and equipment.
You should also remember that, if you need to take electrical equipment off site for work elsewhere, the paperwork relating to PAT testing needs to go with it, as it may be required by the management of the other premises.
Put simply, PAT is legally required but is not a complex routine, so if you have someone in-house who you believe could do the job, make sure they are properly trained to carry out the routine.