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PAT Testing Introduction

PAT testing or portable appliance testing is generally speaking, the electrical safety tests performed on electrical appliances fitted with a plug, and is an integral part of any health & safety policy. PAT testing is not quite as cut and dried as a lot of people may think and, as with much legislation in the U.K., it does have a certain air of ‘vagueness’ surrounding the exact methodology. Strictly speaking there are no legislative regulatory requirements as yet for Portable Appliance Testing Companies and at present legislation only requires that testing is performed by a competent person.  However, the Electricity at Work Regulations place a legal responsibility on everyone in the workplace to comply with the provisions of the regulations and take reasonable steps to ensure that no danger results from the use of Portable appliances. This requires the implementation of a preventative maintenance and testing regime with appropriate mechanisms to ensure a safe working environment.

The Health & Safety at Work Act (1974) places a duty of care upon both employer,employee and the self employed to ensure the safety of all persons using all work premises. The frequency of the testing regime is dependent upon risk. Construction Sites, Industrial premises and Commercial Kitchens for example may require inspection or testing as frequently as every month whilst a rack mounted server system within an air conditioned restricted access area could be inspected on a 2 year cycle.

It is clear that the various legislation applies to all electrical equipment either used in, or associated with, places of work. The scope extends from the largest distribution systems to the smallest piece of electrical equipment such as a mobile phone charger and even in some instances battery operated equipment.

Examples of suggested frequencies of inspection and testing is dependent on risk with

frequencies varying from:

1. Weekly - for some types of equipment used by the public

2. Monthly - for all types of equipment on Construction Sites

3. Six Monthly - for some types of office equipment

4. 2 yearly - for some types of office equipment

PAT Testing Statement

In some instances, common practice PAT testing guidelines do not easily translate into good working practice for some companies and Video Vision is one such company.  Our equipment can be extremely varied (which in itself could be interpreted by the guidelines of course), but, for us the frequency of use and use locations can vary wildly. In addition to this, the unsightly ‘test passed’ stickers and the associated adhesive residue (with additional health issues associated with these stickers) make the standard ‘method’ commonly adopted by many companies as not being suitable.  In addition the frequency of testing varies on such a wide number of varying parameters that we have adopted a method to ensure that our equipment is always safe and in fact ‘over tested’.

The method we adopt is to check and test ALL of our equipment (including detachable mains leads) as they enter our storage facilities as part of the cleaning, re-packing and checking procedure and before being committed to storage (or in some cases repairs and further testing when deemed necessary of course). This testing is by both electrical tests and visual checks as laid out by the guidelines. The dates of checking are clearly located on the outside of ALL the packing cases AND by whom carried out the packing / checking.  This would always apply to all items in that case.  PAT testing (as a part of the above) is carried out by suitably competent individuals in accordance with the current legislation.

Upon packing a job prior to delivery (as in, prior to leaving our warehouse), these ‘item checked’ dates would be cross checked and if found to be over 28 days old, the PAT test would be repeated as part of the job packing and equipment allocation process. No Pat test stickers are ever applied directly to the equipment or detachable mains leads as clearly this system is both unworkable and cosmetically unattractive. It is by the method we use that we can be certain that no item is ever delivered to a customer which has not been tested within the previous month and in most cases much less than 1 month.

© 6th January 2012, Video Vision . Errors and Omissions Excepted.