How often should you PAT test for safety?

Businesses generally know that they have a legal obligation to carry out Portable Appliance Testing (PAT Testing) on their equipment but often fail to recognise what constitutes a portable appliance and critically, how often it should be tested.

Electrical safety can be viewed in exactly the same way as any other type of building maintenance and it is a company’s responsibility to see that it is done regularly and thoroughly. As a guide, a portable appliance can be classified as any appliance that is hand-held or can be moved while connected to an electricity supply, via a lead and a plug. This encompasses everything from a toaster to a photocopier, a hair-dryer to a vacuum cleaner.

Adrian Pendle, managing director of specialist electrical testing company, Intersafe, says: “Because there are no absolute rules on the frequency of the testing and inspection of portable appliances, it can be confusing for companies. The guidelines state only that: ‘Regular inspection of equipment is an essential part of any preventative maintenance programme.’ Although this seems vague, this is because some equipment represents more of a risk than others – as does the environment in which it is used. A simple example would be to compare a drill which is used frequently on a construction site, with a PC in an office. We would usually recommend PAT testing between every one or four years.”

When assessing how often PAT testing should take place, a company should take into consideration the following actors:

  • Environment – some areas will be less hazardous than others, an office, for example will probably be less hazardous than a building site
  • Users – hazards will be avoided if users report damage
  • How the equipment is constructed
  • Equipment type – fixed appliances such as computers or a vending machine are less likely to be damaged than equipment which is hand-held such as a drill
  • Frequency of use – equipment which is used frequently is likely to need testing more frequently than equipment which is not

If in doubt, call in the experts. The best way for a company to ensure that it is fulfilling its electrical safety obligations is to contact an electrical safety specialist such as Intersafe to do the job properly. Intersafe’s engineers will not only carry out PAT testing for your company but also Periodic Inspection Testing as well.