Why Do Electricians in the UK Provide Portable Appliance Testing Services?

Which Items Need To Be PAT Tested?

Your electrician will attempt to provide guidance on what electrical equipment constitutes a ‘portable appliance’. This may include:

  • Electrical appliances that can be held in your hands and are at the same time connected to the electrical supply.
  • Electrical appliances that the customer may move while they are also connected to the electrical supply.
  • Electrical appliances the customer may move with a good degree of ease while connected to the electricity supply.

Your electrician will explain that while it is common for PAT testing to be completed on electrical equipment that is connected to the electrical supply via a socket, this is not the only specification of a portable appliance.

The IEE Regulations

The electrician will discuss the IEE regulations with you and specifically the code of practice suggests guidelines for the definition of a portable appliances. An electrical appliance is categorised as weighing less than 18kg and in turn can be moved in operation. Your electrician will confirm that essentially anything with a plug is classified as a portable appliance and therefore a PAT test is required. The electrician will perform PAT Testing on computers, AC adapters, vacuums, toasters, printers and also large items like amusement arcade machines.

The National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation (NICEIC), of which many electricians are members, describes a portable appliance as ‘any electrical item which can be moved or the person intends to move the appliance while it is connected to the electrical supply.’

Portable Appliance Testing is Provided by Electricians for Health and Safety Reasons

A large number of electrical accidents in the workplace are caused by portable appliances as your electrician will confirm with you. In fact 25% of all electrical accidents in work environments involve portable appliances, but this can be reduced by PAT Testing from a qualified electrician. Legally it is the responsibility of the employer and their employees to make sure that appropriate measures are put in place to prevent hazards in work related situations. Advice from a qualified electrician in the safe management of portable appliances is necessary.

Electricians will confirm the relevant legislation that is applicable to PAT Testing to ensure electrical safety within the workplace. The following legislation documents require compliance from electricians:

  1. Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
  2. Health & Safety at Work Act 1974
  3. Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
  4. Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
  5. Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Given the level of legislative guidance on the subject, regular inspections and testing procedures by electricians need to be put in place for electrical equipment in commercial premises and let properties.There are specific guidelines in the Health & Safety at Work Act (1974) for the purpose of portable electrical testing, which highlight the following incumbent parts:

  1. Where electrical appliances are used by employees
  2. Where the general public use appliances, for example schools, retail outlets, hotels etc.
  3. Where electrical appliances are supplied or hired by the general public or businesses.
  4. Where electrical appliances are repaired or serviced for continual use.
  5. If the electrician does not pass the PAT test in the initial inspection, no appliance can then be passed as safe to use.

The electrician will commence an initial visual inspection of the plug, lead and protective casing of the appliance. The electricians will specifically assess the plug top to make sure it has the correct fuse, cord grip, has a sufficiently balanced polarity and the terminations are tight. The electrician will look for cracking or specific heat damage and will ensure the plug has insulating pins conforming to the BS standards.

The casing of the electrical appliance is fully examined by the electrician who will look for visible damage. The radius of the holes located in the casing must not be more than 6mm and no live incumbent parts should be noticeable within 80mm of the opening.

The Health & Safety Executive provides advice on appropriate health and safety measures of which all electricians will be aware of. The frequency of the electrical testing and related inspections of portable appliances is not set in stone, but companies have a duty of care to the health and safety of all the people who come into contact with the appliances. The periods of inspection for portable appliance testing are often down to a combination of common sense and through adequate information from electricians. There are several environmental considerations to take into account including:

  1. The environment where the electrical appliance is being operated. If the appliance is more exposed to general wear and tear, then it may need to be tested more regularly by an electrician?
  2. In an ideal situation if damage occurs, the electrical appliance will be in a better condition and is not hazardous to users.
  3. The structure of the equipment itself and whether the electrical appliance is damaged or worn out?
  4. As your electrician will confirm the type of equipment can impact on how well it wears? Certain hand held electrical appliances often get damaged more easily.

If you have PAT testing requirements, you will need to contact a local electrician for more advice so that the property and all its appliances are safe.

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