All businesses have a duty of care to their employees, and while many employers will feel that they’re not working in a dangerous industry, there are potential hazards just about everywhere. If an accident happens involving one of your employees while at work, you could well be liable, and PAT testing is a UK initiative put in place to help ensure that.
PAT stands for portable appliance testing, and essentially it is a process where by qualified persons check electrical equipment to ensure that it is safe for use. It’s not strictly a legal obligation in itself, though the safe maintenance of electronics is a requirement as far as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is concerned. Certain insurance policies do require thorough PAT testing however, and you’ll often find that premiums are better when a regular PAT schedule is in place, which is why it’s generally seen as a must-have even if it’s not strictly essential.
The primary aim of testing is to check equipment before a danger actually becomes hazardous. It is reported that 90 percent of all issues can be found by simply assessing the cable and plug; making sure there are no faults. This can be carried out by most who are competent with electrical equipment, and every workplace should have at least one person who is able to.
Further tests, such as resistance testing, continuity tests and current tests may require specialist equipment and knowledge, which is why it’s common for businesses to choose to have someone come in to perform routine checks. If you’re not sure that you actually require this, you can always send an employee on a course, and make them the designated checker. You can also purchase the necessary testing equipment from PASS, and they’ve got a very useful guide on choosing a tester if you don’t want to do it yourself.
When you look around your place of work, you may well be surprised by the sheer number of electrical items that you actually use. They all need to be safe for you and your employees, and PAT testing is the best way to ensure this. Either designate someone for thorough training, or hire a reputable company that will check with the requisite care and attention – not just one who will come to stick stickers on plugs.