Who Can PAT Test Electrical Equipment and What Do PAT Testers Do?
According to the Health and Safety legal requirements, it’s the business owner’s legal responsibility to make sure that all portable electrical equipment is regularly inspected and maintained in a safe working condition to avoid injury or death at work. To help you achieve compliance and meet the requirements of the Britsh Standards (BS 65000), you should have all your work equipment PAT tested by a competent person. Read along to find out what a competent person means and who can actually PAT test, as well as what the PAT tester does.
Who can PAT test electrical equipment?
The law describes the PAT tester as a “competent person” but what does this actually mean? If we take a look at the IEE Code of Practice, we’ll find out that the competent person can be anybody in your business, as long as they match all of the following criteria:
- They have adequate knowledge and experience in working with electricity
- They have adequate practical skills in working with the PAT class they are inspecting
- They have an adequate understanding of the electrical system to be inspected
- They have adequate knowledge of the potential health and safety hazards involved in the PAT testing procedure and how to prevent them
- They have the ability to adequately assess the situation and stop the inspection if a considerable risk arises
As you can see, the above doesn’t require advanced technical knowledge, however, it does require the PAT tester to undergo special training before becoming qualified to perform the inspection. Therefore, if you are planning to appoint a responsible person within your organisation to oversee electrical maintenance, you will also need to ensure that they have been given the necessary specialist training first.
Many business owners in the UK opt to not use their internal resources to do PAT testing, due to the responsibility of the task and the time and cost involved in completing a PAT training course (takes on average 40 hours to complete). Another consideration is that if the trained competent person leaves the company, you will need to invest in upskilling another employee to do the job.
Also, as the correct implementation of the PAT testing techniques may make the difference between achieving compliance and failing to implement the necessary Health and Safety provisions in the workplace, it’s often best to avoid the risk altogether and employ a professional PAT testing service company to conduct the necessary checks for you.
Choosing to hire a professional PAT tester means that your equipment will be inspected by a trained and certified electrician. Most professionals have industry-specific qualifications that allow them to do PAT testing on niche equipment that’s specific to your business.
What do PAT testers do?
A qualified PAT tester will be responsible for examining all portable electrical equipment in the workplace, from computers and printers to kettles and microwaves. Each piece of equipment that is PAT tested will be classed as either Class I or Class II, which is something that the PAT tester has to be familiar with to be able to correctly identify the class and follow the relevant testing procedure.
The PAT test itself will consist of a formal visual inspection to spot any visible signs of damage to the equipment followed by a complete PAT test examination performed using special portable appliance testing tools. The PAT tester needs adequate knowledge and particle understanding of working with electricity to do that safely and to correctly identify whether the appliance tested is safe to use.
If the equipment passes the PAT test successfully, this will be marked by affixing the appropriate PAT testing label on it. If the equipment fails, the PAT tester will report this and notify you that the equipment in question is not safe to use until the issue is fixed and the appliance has successfully passed a follow-up PAT inspection.
At the end of the PAT test examination, the PAT tester, whether they are a competent person within the business or a trained electrician, will provide you with a certificate to acknowledge the PAT test has been performed, as well as the results. You should keep this certificate in your records as evidence of your risk management activities.
Your chosen PAT tester should conduct a full examination of all appliances in the workplace at least once a year to prevent electrical accidents at work.
Relevant PAT Testing Regulations
PAT testing may not be a legal requirement per se but having your electrical equipment at work examined by a PAT tester can help you comply with the UK legislation listed below:
- Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974
- Electricity at Work Regulations of 1989
- Provision and Use of Work Equipment regulations of 1998
- Management of Health and Safety at Work regulations of 1999
- BS5839 Standards (Our Comprehensive BS5839 Guide)
Now that you know who can PAT test and what PAT testers do, you might want to follow up by reading our Beginner’s Guide to PAT Testing