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A Guide to PAT Testing - Everything You Need to Know!

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There are many misconceptions about the different legal requirements relating to PAT testing (Portable Appliance Testing) for businesses.  The current regulations are not always clear and can be open to interpretation, but it pays to understand the recommended guidelines to ensure you are compliant.

Portable Appliance Tester (PAT Tester)

Maybe you are a small business owner who needs to ensure that all portable electronic equipment is tested and maintained in line with regulations, or maybe you are a PAT testing company undertaking large volumes of tests for your customers. Either way, this blog aims to bust some of the myths surrounding PAT testing and help you to discover the range of equipment available to hire, whatever your requirements.  

What is PAT Testing?  

Portable Appliance Testing is the term used to describe the examination of electrical appliances and equipment to ensure they are safe for use. Combined with a visual examination, PAT testing equipment is used to detect any electrical defect in a portable electrical appliance.  Portable appliances are any electrical item which can be moved around and connected or disconnected to an electricity supply.

Is PAT Testing a legal requirement?

We have all seen the little PAT test labels on electrical appliances in the workplace, and so it is surprising to some that PAT testing is not a specific legal requirement.  There are however many regulations that business must comply with, including the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, which require that all electrical equipment that has the potential to cause injury is maintained in a safe condition.

The UK Health and Safety Executive, along with insurance companies, will therefore expect you to perform PAT testing to demonstrate that you are compliant with these regulations, but the regulations do not specify what needs to be done, by whom, or how frequently.

Not every electrical item needs a PAT test. In some cases, a simple user check and visual inspection is enough, for example, checking for loose cables or signs of fire damage and, if possible, checking inside the plug for internal damage, bare wires and the correct fuse. But if the electrical item is deemed high-risk or is in a high-risk environment (such as a power tool on a construction site for example), then regular PAT testing will be expected. 

Follow the link for further guidance and for details of the recommended intervals for checking different types of portable appliances. http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg236.pdf

The guidelines are designed to make certain that equipment is well maintained through regular inspections and periodic testing. Damage and fault can occur with all electrical equipment use which makes it essential that these items are tested regularly for safety.

What records need to be kept?

Again, quite surprisingly, there is no specific legal requirement to label equipment that has been tested. However, it is common practice to label equipment with the date of the test and the result. This system is a useful management tool for monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of your maintenance scheme and to demonstrate that a system exists.

Who can undertake a PAT Test?

A competent member of staff with adequate knowledge may be able to undertake the visual examination of the electrical appliance. However, to undertake a PAT test, the person will need to have a greater knowledge, the appropriate equipment and an understanding of how to interpret the results. In order to be considered competent, it is recommended that the person receives PAT testing training by a qualified PAT testing instructor. Our team will be able to advise on suitable courses recommended by the leading manufacturers.

What equipment is needed to undertake a PAT test?

It pays to have the best equipment possible to increase accuracy and productivity, and ultimately to ensure safety.  PSS HIRE offers a range of PAT testing equipment suitable for businesses who are just testing a small amount of equipment or for PAT testing companies who need to test in large volumes.

There are many different types of PAT test equipment available on the market and PSS HIRE has done the research, so you don’t have to. Our team will help you select from our product range, depending on the following criteria:

  • Volume of testing to be undertaken
  • How you intend to record the results
  • The type of test you will be carrying out

Seaward SuperNova Elite

The Seaward SuperNova Elite PAT Tester is one of the most comprehensive PAT testing machines available on the market and is one of our most popular machines. It is able to power up and test for leakage for both 110V or 230V equipment, something that standard machines are not able to perform.  This PAT test machine is ideal for testing IT systems and industrial tools and equipment. It can hold up to 5000 test records in its memory and record locations, user, test status and the date, making it perfect for high volumes of testing. This machine also has connections for a Seaward barcode scanner and a Seaward Test‘n’Tag Printer.

Fluke 6500

The Fluke 6500 PAT tester is a smaller and more compact unit. With built-in memory it can store up to 1000 records and which can be downloaded directly to your PC.  This machine will PAT test for 230V and 110V equipment and can provide leakage tests for 230V equipment.  It is perfectly suited for both IT equipment and industrial tools & equipment.

Seaward Apollo 500

The Apollo 500 is a very lightweight, battery powered machine with substantial memory for up to 10,000 appliance records. This product is ideally suited to customers who need to PAT test IT equipment.  It will provide 200mA Earth bond test, and, whilst it will not power up equipment for a full leakage test, it will provide a reduced leakage test on equipment only.

How to hire PAT testing equipment from PSS HIRE

To hire PAT testing equipment from PSS HIRE, you can visit our service centres and provide a deposit relative to the equipment value, or you can set up a credit account if you intend to hire more regularly. Setting up a credit account is a simple process that can be completed via email or in a service centre location. You will need to provide references and confirmation of insurances and then your credit account can be approved and activated within 24 to 48 hours! Once your account is set up, you can hire from any of the 14 PSS HIRE service centres located throughout the UK and Ireland, and also access the thousands of other products available to hire from across the specialist A-Plant divisions

PSS HIRE regularly invest in new equipment, selecting the best performing equipment on the market to ensure reliability for our customers. If you experience technical difficulties with your PAT testing equipment, our experienced team can provide advice and support to get you back up and running as quickly as possible.

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