Poorly maintained electrical equipment can cause electric shocks to people using them and also fires and explosions at times. To protect workers and the public from the risk of injury there are strict regulations concerning the use of electrical equipment.
It is a health and safety requirement in all public places and work environments that electrical devices are safe to be used by workers or the general public and will not cause harm to them.
In order to ensure the safety of users, electrical equipment needs to be inspected and tested regularly and appropriately labeled. The labeling will normally display a date that the equipment was tested and a pass or fail indication.
All portable electrical items need to be checked regularly for safety and it is often a mandatory requirement of insurance companies for continued cover. If you run a business then you have to make sure that all your electrical equipment is regularly tested for safety in order to comply with the 1989 Electricity at Work regulations.
Portable appliance testing, or PAT testing is a safety inspection test for electrical equipment that is portable and intended to plug into the mains supply. Basically any appliance or equipment that will be connected to the mains.
A qualified member of staff can carry out PAT testing in- house or an external company can be brought in to inspect and test a company’s electrical appliances and equipment.
The most effective form of electrical testing can be as simple as a visual inspection with particular attention to the condition of mains cables and their respective connection to the equipment and the condition of the mains plug, This type of inspection will often yield the most results and prevent a great deal of accidents and injuries in the workplace.
Frayed cables and cracked mains plugs, loose connections and unsafe working practices account for a large proportion of the reported accidents in the workplace. These can be detected during a routine visual inspection and employees should be trained to do a basic visual safety check whenever they use an appliance for the first time, or when returning to use it after a period of time.
The next level of PAT testing is the inspection of the wires and terminals inside the mains plug, if possible and ensuring the correct rated fuse is installed and that the wires are connected to the right terminals and are not loose.
These are all simple tests that could be carried out by an employee with basic electrical knowledge and minimal equipment, but it is vital for the safety of users of the equipment that these kind of inspections are carried out regularly because, as mentioned previously, these kind of faults account for the majority of accidents.
The more advanced kind of PAT testing require a higher degree qualification, these tests would include leakage current test, earth continuity test, insulation resistance test and so on. The equipment used can range from the very simple, like the widely used Pass/Fail PAT testers, which will simply light up one light or another to indicate the unit’s pass/fail status, to the more advanced units, which will perform much more in- depth electrical testing.
Some PAT units will also have Bluetooth or another connectivity to personal computers so the test data can be recorded along other valuable information such as date and location.