We use many different electrical items in the workplace, as well as in the home, but how do we know they are always safe to use? In fact, it’s fair to say that we take it for granted! The computer or other device you are reading this on right now – have you had it checked to make sure it is still safe? Are the cables delivering the power in good condition, and when was the last time you looked?
In the home, it is up to us to make sure that all the electrical appliances we use are safe for everyone. Even the most up to date appliances can have small faults – frayed or badly connected wires, for example – and need to be checked, just as you do with your car. In the workplace it is a different matter, for here there is a legal requirement for the employer to provide a safe environment for the workforce to operate in.
This extends to making sure all electrical equipment is safe and in good working order, and that’s where PAT testing comes in. Portable Appliance Testing is a legal requirement in the UK and Ireland – and in many other countries in various forms – so let’s talk about what it is, why you need it, and who can perform the test.
What is a PAT Test?
A PAT test is a relatively simple yet essential check on all the electrical appliances and devices that are used routinely in the workplace. This means you should test your printer and scanner, computer, lamp, heater, phone charger, photocopier, and even the cleaning equipment. In the office kitchen you also need to check the kettle, the microwave, and any other items that use mains electricity.
The test is carried out on a regular basis, and involves the following steps:
- Is the device damaged?
- Are the cables in good order?
- Are there any exposed wires?
- Is anything loose?
- Are there exposed metal surfaces?
PAT Tester Checks
- Is the voltage correct?
- Resistance checks?
- Is the object correctly earthed?
- For microwaves, does the radiation emission cut off immediately?
These are just a few of the checks to be made, but give you a good idea of what is involved. You will need someone who is competent in using a PAT testing device, and as there are many of these available, you need to investigate which one is right for you. Fortunately, there is a wealth of information and detail on PAT testing on the internet, so you can find out all you need to know with a few searches. If you feel there may be danger involved, contact Arc Flash.
Of course, you will need someone to carry out the tests, so who should it be?
Who Can PAT Test?
While PAT testing is a legal requirement in offices and workplaces throughout the UK and Ireland – although not, it should be said, in the home where the onus is on the homeowner to ensure the safety of visitors – there is no requirement for a qualification for the PAT tester.
The regulations require that ‘a competent person’ should carry out the tests, and while this implies someone you believe sensible enough it really means someone with adequate knowledge of what to look for, and with at least basic tuition in how to use a PAT testing device.
There are many short courses you can put your employees through so that you have people on site to carry out the tests, and these will teach them everything from what to look for, how to use a PAT tester, and how to fill in the paperwork required to keep everything up to date as required.