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Last edited 28 Feb 2021
Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)
In the UK, portable appliance testing (PAT) is a process that ensures electrical appliances are safe for use. An electric appliance can be taken as meaning any electrically-powered household appliance as well as appliances used in commercial and industrial applications e.g construction sites.
Testing requires an examination of the appliance. In most cases, visual checks may suffice to reveal any defects. However, some appliances will require proper testing by qualified personnel. It is important to note that for some defects visual examination is essential as faults may not be detected by testing alone.
Using a checklist that forms part of a periodic electrical maintenance regime, trained users may find it useful to carry out a brief examination of the appliance, depending on the type of equipment and the environment in which it is used. However, it may be necessary to revert to a competent person for more formal visual inspection and testing.
Portable Appliance Testing is covered by the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 which require that electrical appliances that have the capacity to cause injury should be maintained in a safe condition. However, the regulations do not specify what requires to be done, how frequently it should be undertaken and by whom. In other words, there is no legal requirement to inspect or test electrical equipment. Despite this, responsible employers usually have items such as desk lamps, desk-top power sockets, coffee machines and kettles tested on an annual basis. The items are usually labelled with the date testing was last carried which acts both as a management record and also demonstrates to staff that testing has indeed been carried out.
This will depend on the type of appliance and its use. A drill used on a daily basis on a construction site is likely to require more frequent testing than a low-power consumption domestic floor lamp.
For simple appliances in low-risk environments that require only a visual inspection, all that is required is competency; this may be undertaken by a staff member if they have the knowledge and training. For more complex equipment and applications requiring both visual and electrical testing, a better qualified person such as an electrician will be required.
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