If you are a business owner with a number of employees that use Portable Electrical Appliances, PAT testing/inspection is not something you can afford to ignore. In fact, PAT tests should be your number one priority when it comes to electrical maintenance. Most importantly, PAT tests should be performed on a regular basis to ensure the complete safety of your employees. Otherwise, failure to conduct these tests can lead to serious accidents or injuries, not to mention a potential loss of business and lawsuits.
So what exactly are PAT tests?
Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is the term used to describe the testing/examination of electrical appliances and equipment with the purpose to ensure they are safe to use
(http://www.hse.gov.uk/electricity/faq-portable-appliance-testing.htm). In most cases, electrical safety defects can be found by visual examination. For example, it’s easy to identify a broken electrical wire in an electrical appliance or equipment during examination. However, there are certain types of defects that cannot be identified during visual examinations. These particular defects can only be found by testing. However, it’s important to understand that visual examination is a crucial part of electrical maintenance because there are some defects that cannot be detected by testing alone.
Why are PAT Tests Important?
Defects in electrical appliances and equipment are a major cause of electric shock, most of which lead to death or serious injuries. According to the Health and Safety Executive, approximately 25 percent of all reported electrical accidents involve portable appliances. From this report, it’s quite clear that a large number of electrical accidents caused by faulty portable appliances can be prevented with proper PAT testing and inspection. It’s for this reason that the law is quite clear and strict on PAT testing.
The law requires employers to provide proof that their workforce operates in a safe environment. The law also demands that PAT inspection and testing be carried out by a highly qualified and competent professional. According to the Electricity at Work Regulations in 1989, a duty holder must ensure that “all electrical systems shall be properly maintained so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practical danger.” Because not all electrical faults can be detected during visual examinations, PAT testing is carried out to reveal any invisible defects. Some of these defects may include incorrect polarity, earth continuity, excessive protective conductor current, insulation integrity, incorrect fuse, and other potential faults. (http://martindale-electric.co.uk/emphasising-the-importance-of-competent-pat-testing-a-59.html)
Carrying out PAT tests can help employers avoid lawsuits in the case of accidents caused by faulty electrical appliances/equipment. For example, a worker suffered a 240 volt electric shock while using a pressure washer. The company was held accountable and fined heavily as the investigation revealed that they had not done proper maintenance on the appliance as required by the law. Besides potentially endangering their employees and the general public, employers that neglect PAT tests risk having their insurance policies invalidated. An insurance provider may decline to make any compensation to companies that do not regularly perform PAT testing.
There is also the risk of six months imprisonment, tenant may sure for civil damages, possible manslaughter charges in the event of deaths, and a huge fine per item for not complying. (https://sewellgardner.com/sewell-gardner/the-importance-of-pat-testing-portable-appliance-testing/)
So if you’re an employer, it’s important that you comply with the law and have PAT tests performed on a regular basis.