A PATS test is an important sector of health and safety policies which contain legal and technical requirements. It has been recorded by the Health & Safety Executive that 25% of all reported electrical accidents are a result of a faulty portable appliance, which is why a PATS test is required. The Electricity at Work Regulations applies legal responsibility on employers and employees in order to act accordingly with the provisions of the regulations and take reasonable steps to ensure no accidents result from the use of a portable appliance, which is why it is important to complete a PATS test. It is imperative that a PATS test is completed in order to maintain the health and safety at work. A PATS test depends on the risk of the appliance becoming faulty.
The National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (NAPIT) recommend that a PATS test is required for “any electrical item which is intended to be moved whilst connected to an electrical supply”. The IEE Code of Practice highlights regulations on which type of PATS test a certain appliance requires because the type of test carried out varies depending on the size and usage of an appliance. An appliance which weighs less than 18kg requires a PATS test to ensure that a portable appliance is able to move from one place to another whilst in use, this includes:
• PATS Test for Hand Held Appliances – to be held during normal use, e.g. a hair dryer.
• PATS Test for I.T Appliances - computers and mains powered photocopiers.
How is a PATS test done? A PATS test is completed by a qualified portable appliance tester/trained portable appliance tester and there are several procedures involved in a PATS test.
One way how to complete a PATS test inspection is where the PATS tester visually scrutinizes an appliance, in particular the plug and cables will require a PATS test in order to recognise signs of hazard. This is an affective method of PATS test because according to the HSE this approach to PATS testing can find more than 90% of faults.
An additional approach of how to complete a PATS test is through user checks. This procedure is when users are advised on how to avoid any potential danger, for example, a frayed cable or cracked plug. If this is the case then an individual partaking in a PATS test is advised that the plug is not to be tampered with.
Combined inspections are done at periodical intervals and it is vital that these PATS tests measure the degree of protection to maintain adequacy. During these intervals a formal visual inspection is completed followed by a PATS test. During a PATS test it is essential that the interior of the plug is checked (unless it is molded or sealed), in this case, bad internal wiring or an unsuitable fuse would classify the item as hazardous.
In the formal inspection of a PATS test there are certain signs to be aware of:
• Wreckage of the mains plug
• Damage to external casing of the equipment, or loose parts and/or screws
The formal PATS test procedure should also contain removal of the plug cover and an analysis of:
• The cord grip has a tight hold of the outer part of the cable
• The Live, Neutral and Earth wires are attached to the correct terminals
• No visible bare wires
• Tight and secure screwing of the terminal screws
• Signs of internal drainage