The Basics of PAT Testing
If you are a business owner, no matter the size or scope of the company in question, you will have come across PAT testing. This is the legally required certification that all electrical devices in a workplace – factory, shop, office or elsewhere – are physically tested and labelled as being safe for use or otherwise.
If you have a quick look around you, you will see why this is important. The misuse of electrical current can, after all, be dangerous, and a quick count shows you there are many electrical items in your immediate working surroundings, even in the smallest of office spaces.
You have a computer, to begin with, and perhaps a printer. You may have a light on your desk, or a heater, and you might have phone chargers, a photocopier, maybe even a fax machine. Your Wi-Fi unit will be mains-powered, too, and there are many more items that require an electrical power source.
In your office kitchen, for example, you will find a kettle, perhaps a microwave, and maybe other electric cooking appliances, each of which needs to be PAT tested, and it doesn’t stop there. So, what is PAT testing, and can it be done in-house, by one of your workforce?
PAT Testing Explained
In fact, PAT testing can be ably carried out by a member of your workforce, if they have relevant training and there is no complex machinery involved. There is no actual legal requirement for the PAT tester to be qualified; the regulations state it needs to be ‘a competent person’. However, there are training courses that you can put your people through if you want them to be able to carry out tests to the best of their ability, and they will teach them the basics of PAT. You can turn to PAT Testers for that.
The simple routine involves two sections – a visual check, and a test with a PAT testing device. Let’s have a look what is involved in each:
- Check for any damage to the item itself
- Examine cables and power connections for fraying or other damage
- Ensure all casing is in place
- Check extension wires and more
- Check correct voltage output
- Check for resistance problems
- Check earth is in place where necessary
- For microwave ovens, check the radiation emission stops immediately
This is the basic premise of a PAT testing routine, and any training will give the participant more than adequate knowledge of how to use the devices needed – some can be more complex than those above – plus what to look for in the visual checks, and how to fill in the relevant paperwork. It is worth knowing that all records of PAT tests must be held for five years, and be ready for inspection when requested.
The Best Candidates
Choosing your in-house PAT and arc flash testing candidate means looking for the people with a level of competence that is applicable to the job. Somebody with patience and attention to detail will be the most likely candidate – as it can be a tedious job – and perhaps one who already holds some qualification in health and safety in the workplace.
Having your own internal PAT testers means you can keep up to date with new regulations, and test new items immediately so they can be put into use, but if you do feel the need to get a professional in to do more detailed and perhaps complex testing, there are many service providers who can help.
Check out short courses for PAT test training now, and make sure you have the people in place to keep you updated.