What is PAT Testing?
Testing (PAT) is an important part of a company's or individual's
responsibility to health and safety. This is done using a series of specialised
testing procedures on your portable appliances.
Is Portable Appliance Testing a legal
It is a statutory
requirement and many insurance companies require the insured to comply with all
current regulations. This includes the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989,
which state that "As may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall
be maintained so as to prevent, so far as reasonably practicable, such
danger" (Regulation 4(2)). "Electrical equipment includes anything
used, intended to be used or installed for use, to generate, provide, transmit,
transform, rectify, convert, conduct, distribute, control, store, measure or
use electrical energy." (Regulation 2(1)).
The responsibility on
the employer to ensure work equipment is safe is also covered by The Provision
and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. This states that "Every
employer shall ensure that work equipment is so constructed or adapted as to be
suitable for the purpose for which it is used or provided." (Regulation
4(1)). This includes all work equipment (fixed, portable or transportable) connected
to a source of electrical energy."
Failure to comply with
Electrical Regulations can lead to a maximum penalty of a £5,000 fine and/or up
to six months imprisonment. For breaches under the general duties of the Health
Safety at Work Act 1974, penalties of up to £20,000 were introduced in 1992 and
offences heard on indictment in the Crown Court attract unlimited financial
penalties and up to two years imprisonment.
What does a PAT test consist of?
We start with a visual
inspection checking for:
Damaged plugs and equipment
(overheating, burn marks, discolouration)
Correctly wired plugs
Correctly rated fuse
Then a series of tests (depending on the class
of equipment), they may include:
Earth continuity testing
Earth leakage test
What types of appliances need testing?
Basically, any type of
equipment, which is powered by electrical energy.
The IET Code of
Practice for In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment states
that this Code of Practice covers:
An appliance of less than 18 kg in mass that is intended to be moved while in
operation or an appliance which can easily be moved from one place to another,
e.g. toaster, food mixer, vacuum cleaner, fan heater.
Equipment (sometimes called Transportable):
This is equipment, which is either: 18 kg or less in mass and not fixed, e.g.
electric fire, or equipment with wheels, castors or other means to facilitate
movement by the operator as required to perform its intended use, e.g. air
This is portable equipment intended to be held in the hand during normal use,
e.g. hair dryer, drill, soldering iron
Equipment or Appliances:
This equipment has a mass exceeding 18 kg and is not provided with a carrying
handle, e.g. refrigerator, washing machine.
This is equipment of an appliance, which is fastened to a support or otherwise
secured in a specified location, e.g. bathroom heater, towel rail.
for Building in:
This equipment is intended to be installed in a prepared recess such as a
cupboard or similar. In general, equipment for building in does not have an
enclosure on all sides because on one or more of the sides, additional
protection against electric shock is provided by the surroundings e.g. a
built-in electric cooker.
Technology Equipment (Business Equipment):
Information technology equipment includes electrical business equipment such as
computer and mains powered telecommunications equipment, and other equipment
for general business use, such as mail processing machines, electric plotters,
trimmers, VDUs, data terminal equipment, typewriters, telephones, printers,
photo-copiers, power packs.
The use of extension leads should be avoided where possible. If used, they
should be tested as portable appliances. It is recommended that 3-core leads
(including a protective earthing conductor) be used.
A standard 13 A 3-pin
extension socket-outlet with a 2-core cable should never be used even if the
appliance to be used in Class II, as it would not provide protection against
electrical shock if used at any time with an item of Class I equipment.
The length of an
extension lead for general use should not exceed the following:
- Core Area Maximum Length
- 1.25mm2 12 metres
- 1.5mm2 15 metres
- 2.5mm2 25 metres*
- 2.5mm2 cables are too large for standard 13 A plugs, but they may be used
with BS EN 60309 industrial plugs.
These maximum lengths
are not applicable to the flex of an appliance, for guidance refer to paragraph
15.13 (IEE Code of Practice for In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical
If extension lead
lengths do exceed the above, they shall be protected by a 30 mA RCD manufactured
to BS 7071.
How often do my appliances need to be PAT
Frequency of testing
depends on the type of equipment and the environment in which it is used. The
frequencies we recommend are based on the guidelines by the Health & Safety
Executive (HSE), Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET) and our own
Why do you say PAT testing and not PA Testing?
Testing is abbreviated to 'PAT.' The phrase ‘PAT testing’ is in fact a
tautology in the same way that some people say 'LCD Display'. However, the
phrase is commonly used in the industry even though most people realise it is
incorrect. Some people insist on calling the process PA Testing which causes
confusion. The correct term for the whole process is actually 'In-service
Inspection & Testing of Electrical Equipment'.
Dangerous Electrical Items
Electricity kills and
injures people. Around 1000 electrical accidents at work are reported to HSE
each year and about 30 people die from their injuries. Many injuries at work are
a result of:
Poorly maintained electrical
equipment used in unsuitable environments
Fires started by poorly
maintained electrical equipment
Damaged electrical equipment
still in use
McKeown PAT Testing’s
professional and comprehensive approach to electrical inspection and testing
could help your company minimise the risk of injury and death.