PAT Testing – What is the LAW?
British law (the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 ) requires that all electrical systems (including electrical appliances) are maintained (so far as is reasonably practicable) to prevent danger.
A competent person must inspect the installation regularly in any public building or a place that people work; private houses do not need this test.
Guidance from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET, published under the IEE brand) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) suggest initial intervals for combined inspection and testing that range from three months (for construction equipment) to one year for inspection and, in many cases, longer periods for testing (certain types of appliance in schools, hotels, offices and shops).
Electrical testing and inspection…from £35 + vat
Advising the user of potential danger signs can result in problems being picked up before they can result in any danger. For example, if the power cable is frayed or the plug is cracked, users need to be advised not to use the appliance and report the fault to a supervisor.
PAT Testing or Portable Appliance Testing is the only cheap and viable way to ensure the protection your staff and clients from faulty appliances. The tests an appliance is required to undergo will depend on the type of appliance, its electrical Class and subject to a risk assessment by the technician. i.e. it may not be safe to perform a leakage current test which powers up the appliance, such as a grinder, if it cannot be secured to a bench; an insulation resistance test may be a safe option.
What do we do when we test appliances;
1. checking the structural integrity of the appliance
2. checking the structural integrity of the cable
3. checking the structural integrity of the plug: Note the inside of the plug should be checked unless it is moulded or there is an unbroken seal covering the screws (bad internal wiring or an unsuitable fuse would cause the item to be classed as dangerous).
4. checking the plug is fused correctly
The above checks – known as Formal visual inspections (According to the HSE) can find more than 90% of faults.
5. Earth Resistance Test – This test shows the resistance offered by the earthing rods with the connection leads. Various testing instruments are available for earthing resistance tests. The earthing resistance should be less than 0.15 Ohm.
6. Polarity testing is a simple test that can be carried out using a polarity tester to determine whether the active and neutral of the plug end are correctly connected to the corresponding terminals at the socket end. Note: The earth is tested during the earth continuity test. As per BS7671, the phase (‘Live’ or ‘Hot’) cable should connect with right hand side terminal of the socket (if we face the socket outlet)
7. Earth continuity test – The equipment shall have a measured resistance of the protective earth circuit, or the earthing conductor of an extension cord or appliance cord set, which does not exceed 1Ω.
All testing requires specialised test equipment, knowledge and training.
PAT Testing Prices Nov 2013
1. Up to 15 items tested at our office…………………£35.00
2. Up to 15 items tested at client site in CO…………£45.00
3. Up to 30 items tested at our office…………………£50.00
4. Up to 30 items tested at client site in CO…………£60.00
5. Up to 40 items tested at client site in CO…………£70.00
6. Up to 50 items tested at client site in CO…………£80.00
7. Up to 60 items tested at client site in CO…………£90.00
8. Up to 70 items tested at client site in CO………..£100.00
9. Additional Items over 70………………………..£1.05 each
10. 500 items plus – 89p per item…………………..£445.00
- According to the Health and Safety Executive 1000 accidents occur at work each year that involve electric shock or burns. About 30 of these are fatal. Faulty electrical appliances and leads are the main cause of accidental fires in commercial buildings, representing over a quarter of all such fires.
- The Electricity At Work Regulations 1989 state “every employer shall ensure, that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair”.
- The Law The Four main types of legislation that applicable to the testing of in-service electrical equipment are:
- The Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) 1974: Applies to all persons, employers and employess at work, and places of duty of care to ensure the safety of themselves and others.
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work regulations (MHSWR) 1999, amended 2003: In order that the HSWA can be effectively implemented in the work place, every employer has to carry out a risk assessment to ensure that employees and those in his/her employ are not subjected to danger.
- The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998, amended 2002: Work equipment must be constructed in such a way that it is suitable for the purpose for which it is to be used. The employer is responsible for this.
- The Electricity at Work Regulations (EAWR) 1989: These regulations cover a whole list of different kinds of electrical equipment from, for example a 400kv overhead line to a battery powered watch! The concerns for the lower end of the power scale are there not to cover risk of shock but to cover risk of very low level energy igniting flammable gases. The EAWR also covers conductors used to distribute electricity such as cables and leads.
Electrical Installations And Repairs:
When carrying out installations and repairs you should always use an NAPIT or NICEIC registered contractor to ensure that your electrics are installed and maintained safely and correctly.
What Needs Testing?
Types of Appliances And Examples:
- Hand Held Appliances – Any appliance that has to be gripped or held during use e.g. Hair dryer, drill, electric whisk, inspection lamp.
- Portable Appliances – Any electrical item that weights less than 18kg and is intended to be moved, or can easily be moved whilst connected to the electricity supply: e.g. kettle, toaster, food mixer.
- Movable Appliances – any electrical item weighing less than 18kg that can be moved and is not fixed to a stationary object. Or any electrical item with wheels or castors: e.g. Welding Machine, vacuum cleaner, air conditioning unit.
- Stationary Appliances – Any electrical item weighing more than 18kg that is not intended to be moved during use but is not fixed: e.g. vending machines, refrigerator, washing machine, dish washer.
- Information Technology Appliances – Or business equipment containing sensitive electronic components e.g. PC’s, monitors, telephone systems, printers, copiers, fax machines.
- Built In Appliances – Any electrical item that is to be installed inside a recess or cupboard where one or more sides of the appliance are protected by its surroundings: e.g. built in ovens, hob, dishwashers, fridges.
- Fixed Appliances – An electrical item that cannot be moved because its secured to a wall or permanent support: e.g. hand dryers, wall mounted air con units, pillar drills.
- Extension Leads – All power cables, extension leans, extension reels, gang sockets, multi way adaptors, standard computer cables (kettle leads) IEC leads and RCD’s should all be tested.
What Goes Wrong?
“During the thousands of inspections we have carried out most of the faults we find are down to HUMAN INTERVENTION!”
Most of the time faults are caused by over stretching power cables, damaging power cables with chair and table legs, DIY quicks fixes, wrong fuse fitted, overloading of extension leads, lose wiring and other accidental damage that just seam to go un-noticed.
What about new equipment?
Most people assume that new equipment will be safe, however we have found plugs that do not meet Bristish Standards, incorrectly wired plugs, wrong fuses and fake fuses installed.