Portable Appliance Testing (commonly known as PAT or PAT Inspection or PAT testing) is a process in the United Kingdom by which electrical appliances are routinely checked for safety. The correct term for the whole process is In-service Inspection & Testing of Electrical Equipment.
When people work with electrical appliances, health and safety regulations state that the appliance must be safe, to prevent harm to workers. Many types of equipment require PAT testing at regular intervals to ensure continual safety; the interval between tests depending on both the type of appliance and the environment it is used in. Evidence of testing must be clearly visible to workers in the form of ‘Passed’ , ‘Tested For Electrical Safety’ and ‘DO NOT USE’ after labels affixed to various parts of the electrical equipment they use.
Regulations on Who Must have their Equipment PAT Tested
The Electricity at Work Regulations (1989) requires “All electrical systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any danger”. This is interpreted as covering the fixed electrical installation as well as portable and transportable equipment connected to it. The Regulations also state “It is the duty of every employer and self employed person to comply with the provision of these Regulations.”
British law (the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 in particular) requires that all electrical systems (including electrical appliances) are maintained (so far as is reasonably practicable) to prevent danger. Guidance from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET, published under the IEE brand) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) suggest initial intervals for combined inspection and testing that range from three months (for construction equipment) to one year for inspection and, in many cases, never for testing (certain types of appliance in schools, hotels, offices and shops).
Electrical systems refer to the installation as well as all the appliances connected to it. A qualified electrician or someone that has PAT testing training must inspect the installation annually in any public building and/or a place that people work, private houses do not need this test. The maintenance of the appliances can largely be carried out in-house in many organisations. This can result in cost savings and more flexibility in when PAT testing is carried out.
The European Low Voltage Directive governs the manufacture or importation of electrical appliances. Compliance to this has to be declared and indicated by the display of the CE mark on the product. The responsibility for this lies with the manufacturer or the importer and is policed by the Trading Standards. However, it is important to have a maintenance regime for electrical appliances. The Electricity at Work Regulations (1989) requires that electrical appliances be maintained so that they remain safe during use. The implementation of this is up to employers. The HSE or the local authority is responsible for the policing of this.