Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is the regular inspection and electrical testing of electrical equipment, leads and plugs to ensure users’ safety.
All electrical appliances classed as portable or transportable, i.e. any equipment that has a flexible cable and/or plug fitted for mains operation, requires a periodic safety check. For example…
- Computers, printers etc
- Hand held power tools
- Vacuum cleaners
- Microwaves, kettles
- Extension leads, power boards
- Power packs, chargers
- Heaters, fans, table lamps
- 3-phase equipment
Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is part of a requirement of the new Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010 and OSH Regulations AS/NZS3760/2010 “In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment” to maintain electrical equipment in a safe condition. This testing is an important part of any Health & Safety Policy.
Who does it affect?
The Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010 affects many premises such as…
- Offices & shops
- Construction sites
- Hotels & conference centres
- Schools, universities
- Community centres, church halls etc
- Rented properties
- Where appliances are hired/repaired
Electrical testing of equipment
All equipment that belongs to these premises should be tested to ensure continued safety of such items. Electrical testing is particularly important if equipment is accessible to the general public, e.g. in hotels or community centres, etc.
Any additional equipment that is brought into such premises (e.g. contractors tools, audio-visual and disco equipment, phone chargers) should also be tested.
What does electrical testing involve?
Correct PAT testing MUST be performed by a competent/trained person and should include the following checks…
- Suitability of equipment for environment
- Damage to plug or loose cable retention
- Damage to cable or bad joints in cable
- Damage to equipment casing
- Signs of overheating
- Correct fuse rating & wiring inside plug
- Insulation & Polarity tests (Class 1 & 2)
- Earth Bond test (Class 1 only)
- Identification of all units tested
- Identification, recording, labelling and removal from service of any failed appliance.
The function of such electrical testing is to ensure that any unsafe equipment is removed from service immediately, and ensure your company, customers and staff are protected from possible electrical hazards.
Note: Special care must be taken when carrying out electrical testing of IT equipment as applying the incorrect test can cause damage to the equipment.
Frequency of electrical testing
The frequency of inspection and electrical testing required can vary depending on several factors, such as…
- Environment: Equipment in a harsh environment is likely to suffer more damage than equipment in a benign environment (i.e. A construction site as opposed to an office)
- Users: If equipment is likely to receive unreported abuse, more frequent inspection and testing is required.
- Equipment construction: The safety of Class 1 equipment is dependent upon a good connection with earth; Class 2 equipment is not dependent upon a fixed earth.
- Equipment type: Equipment in a harsh environment is likely to suffer more damage than equipment in a benign environment, e.g. a construction site as opposed to an office.
Note: Electrical testing and PAT testing (as it is commonly known in the UK) are usually referred to in New Zealand as test and tag.
For additional information see this Wikipedia article.