PATS testing 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 faulty appliances, which is why PATS testing is required. The Electricity at Work Regulations apply legal responsibility on employers and employees in order to act accordingly with the provisions of the regulations and take reasonable steps to ensure that no accidents result from the use of a portable appliance, which is why it is important to complete PATS testing. It is imperative that PATS testing is completed in order to maintain the health and safety at work. PATS testing depends on the risk of the appliance becoming faulty.
The National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (NAPIT) recommend that PATS testing 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 testing certain appliances require because the type of tests carried out varies depending on the size and usage of an appliance. An appliance which weighs less than 18kg encounters PATS testing to ensure that a portable appliance is able to move from one place to another whilst in use, this includes:
• PATS Testing for Hand Held Appliances – e.g. a hair dryer.
• PATS Testing for I.T Appliances such as computers and mains powered photocopiers.
How is PATS testing completed? PATS testing is completed by a qualified portable appliance tester/trained PATS tester and there are several procedures involved in PATS testing. One method of completing PATS testing is where the PATS tester visually scrutinizes an appliance; in particular the plug and cables will require PATS testing in order to recognise signs of hazard. This is an affective method of PATS testing because according to the HSE this approach to PATS testing can find more than 90% of faults, thus, it is a vital mechanism for the maintenance of a portable appliance.
An additional approach on how to PATS testing is through user checks. This procedure is where 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 is advised that the plug is not to be tampered with.
PATS testing through combined inspections are done at periodical intervals and it is vital these portable appliance tests (PAT) measure the degree of protection in order to maintain adequacy. During these intervals a formal visual inspection is completed followed by PATS testing. During the procedure of PATS testing it is essential that the interior of the plug is checked (unless it is molded or sealed), in this case of PATS testing bad internal wiring or an unsuitable fuse would classify the item as hazardous.
Formal inspection of PATS testing 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 testing 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