PAT testing requirements for schools can be more complex to understand than they are for businesses. Here, we give a brief overview of PAT testing in schools – including who is responsible for it.
What is portable appliance testing?
Portable appliance testing is the regular inspection of any electrical appliance that can be moved, whether connected or disconnected from an electrical supply. This should be carried out by a qualified tester, and any appliances that are deemed unsafe should cease to be used until they are either repaired or replaced.
Is PAT testing in schools a legal requirement?
The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 was brought in to ensure the safety of all in workplaces –including schools. The HSWA designates overall health and safety responsibility with employers, including:
- Employers must ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees
- Employers must conduct their undertaking in a way that does not expose non-employees to health and safety risks
To comply with these requirements, employers must maintain their buildings to ensure that they are safe.
Furthermore, the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (EAWR) state that all electrical equipment that can cause danger must be maintained.
The UK Government’s guidance for schools states: “Where there is no statutory definition of testing and inspection frequencies, schools should still ensure that arrangements are in place for maintenance and testing of plant and equipment to be undertaken at appropriate intervals.”
This means that, whilst there are no set laws that decree whether – and how often – PAT testing should be carried out, schools must ensure that they are complying with these legislations. Regular PAT testing is the best evidence of your compliance.
Who is responsible for PAT testing in schools?
In community schools, the employer, and therefore responsible body, is the local authority. In academies, free schools, community technical colleges and other independent schools, the employer is the school proprietor.
Employer responsibilities are often delegated to headteachers or other nominated members of staff. This person will have the overall responsibility to ensure that statutory maintenance of the school buildings is carried out.
The allocated person can allocate these duties to a competent individual. There are several requirements for someone to be classified as ‘competent’, including core knowledge of the subject, experience to apply this knowledge and personal qualities to carry out the tasks well. The employer or allocated person must ensure that this level of competence is maintained through regular training.
Who can carry out PAT testing in schools?
While the HSWA does not state who can carry out PAT testing, schools are ‘strongly advised’ by the government to use “organisations or contractors who are recognised by an appropriate industry standards body and have been vetted for technical competence and financial probity.”
If a school’s PAT testing is carried out by an unqualified person, the school or local authority may still be liable should a preventable health and safety incident occur.
Records and reports should be kept to provide evidence of professional PAT testing and therefore compliance with HSWA regulations.
Intersafe are leading electrical compliance experts, providing thorough and efficient PAT testing services for large buildings in a range of sectors in the UK – including schools. Get in touch with our team today to discuss your requirements.