Portable appliance test or more commonly known as the PAT test is a series of electrical tests and inspection of electrical appliances. It is a routine test. Several electrical appliance problems can be detected with mere visual detection, but to ensure complete safety of the use of electrical instruments, there is a need of thoroughly testing to ensure if they are in optimal working condition.
Is it a Legal Requirement?
The most common question asked about PAT testing is that is it a legal obligation. The truth is that the law requires businesses, self-employed individuals or anyone involved in public exposure to electrical equipment to ensure the electrical safety of the individuals involved. And to ensure this safety, the most efficient and accessible protocol is through PAT testing.
However, if someone is guilty of not providing adequate electrical safety to individuals the consequences can be adverse. The severity of the situation suggests the penalty for the offense. It can be as severe as two years imprisonment and high monetary fine.
What Appliances should be tested?
Not all electrical appliances require PAT testing. To know what appliances require PAT testing, first, we need to know about classes of electrical equipment. Electrical equipment can be classified into three kinds:
Class 1: Most Dangerous
Complete PAT testing should be done on Class 1 electrical appliances because these appliances have a basic level of insulation and require ground (Earth) for safe functioning. Examples of Class 1 electrical appliances include washing machine, irons, toasters, etc.
Class 2: Moderately Dangerous
These electrical appliances are relatively safer because they have a higher level of insulation and do not depend on the ground (Earth). Insulation PAT testing should be done on Class 2 electrical appliances. Examples of Class 2 electrical appliances include lamps, TVs, hairdryer, etc.
Class 3: Least Dangerous
Class 3 electrical appliances are the least dangerous and do not require to be PAT tested. However, the charging leads of such appliances need to be PAT tested. Examples of Class 2 electrical appliances include cameras, laptops, torches, etc.
The required frequency of PAT testing
There is not a set protocol to follow regarding the frequency of PAT testing because the situation and need vary with changing environments in which these electrical appliances are used. However, the rate of PAT tests can be scheduled depending upon the following factors:
- The Class of the appliance in question
- The category of the device i.e. is the appliance portable, stationary, movable, etc.
Other considerations that the Health and Safety Executive suggests are as follows:
- Age of the electrical appliance
- Duration of use of the electrical appliance
- History of the electrical appliance
- Predictable failures
Risk Level of businesses
There are different types of companies and all have a different requirement for PAT testing. Following are the factors that suggest the level of risk associated with a business:
- The type of electrical appliance being used
- The capability of people using the equipment
For example, in an office where a certain number of people use the electrical equipment daily, the risk factor is relatively low, whereas, at a construction site where dangerous electrical appliances are being used in no proper setting, by different people in different shifts, the risk level is considerably high.
Depending upon the risk level of the workplace a PAT test should be conducted every three months, every six months or annually.
The above article clearly illustrates what a PAT test is and what it entails. It also suggests the type of equipment that requires the test and how often should the test be conducted. Although a team of certified professionals is usually hired to perform the test.