As any UK business owner knows, Health & Safety inspectors can visit at any time to ensure safety measures are put in place in the workplace to reduce health and safety risks. The simple fact is if you don’t comply with the regulations set down by the Health & Safety Executive, you may face prosecution.
One area that requires attention is the safety of portable electrical items. The term ‘portable’ basically covers anything with a plug on it that can be moved around. Even in a small company, that can be a lot of equipment. Faulty electrical appliances, as we all know, can seriously damage your health or even be fatal!
One frequently asked question is how often you need to inspect each appliance. This varies, depending on usage and type of business. There are free guidelines available on frequency of inspection from the Health & Safety Executive or you can purchase a comprehensive book by the Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEE) called ‘Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment’. This book is a recommended read for anyone carrying out PAT testing.
One way to ensure these tests are being carried out satisfactorily is to carry out your own PAT testing with a ‘competent’ person/s assigned to do this. Apart from saving you costs for an electrician, you can carry out the testing at a time to suit your business – it’s not a once a year job either. There will be times throughout the year when you have equipment brought into the business that hasn’t had a PAT test. Take a residential care home for example. An elderly lady moves into the home and her well meaning daughter brings a portable TV in for her to use in her room, that TV needs to be inspected before use. Rather than call out an electrician to test these individual items, it makes sense to have your own competent person to carry out the test, label it and fill out the appropriate record sheet.
It’s not only good practice to PAT test, it is also something that more and more insurance companies will want to see evidence of having been carried out. If you were to claim for fire damage, they would want to know that you did all you could to protect yourselves from fire risk and this would include portable appliance testing. Good record keeping is essential to demonstrate you have been carrying out regular PAT Testing.
There is a fair bit of confusion about PAT testing and what defines a ‘competent’ person. To gain confidence in PAT testing, it is recommended that the person undergoes some training. Most suppliers of PAT testers offer training to help users become familiar with the process, ask questions and gain confidence in the machine they are using.