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Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is an important part of a company's or individual's responsibility to health and safety. This is done using a series of specialised testing procedures on your portable appliances.

From a legal perspective a portable electrical appliance is defined as an item that is not part of a fixed installation but is connected to such an installation by way of a flexible lead, plug and socket This therefore means that any items such as electric drills, kettles, fridges, microwaves, PCs, printers, monitors, extension leads etc will all come under the portable appliance heading. Larger items such as photo copiers, fax machines, scanners etc will also be classified as portable appliances.

The Electricity at Work Regulations places a duty on employers and the self employed to ensure electrical equipment is 'maintained in a condition suitable for use'. The periodic inspection and testing of all electrical equipment is the recognised approach to fulfill legal obligations under the EAW regs. It is also a requirement of insurance companies that businesses have their electrical equipment routinely tested

We start with a visual inspection checking for: Damaged flexes Damaged plugs and equipment (overheating, burn marks, discolouration) Correctly wired plugs Correctly rated fuse Then a series of tests (depending on the class of equipment), they may include: Earth continuity testing Insulation resistance Polarity test Leakage test Fuse test

Basically, any type of equipment, which is powered by electrical energy. The IET Code of Practice for In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment states that this Code of Practice covers: Portable Appliances: An appliance of less than 18 kg in mass that is intended to be moved while in operation or an appliance which can easily be moved from one place to another, e.g. toaster, food mixer, vacuum cleaner, fan heater. Movable Equipment (sometimes called Transportable): This is equipment, which is either: 18 kg or less in mass and not fixed, e.g. electric fire, or equipment with wheels, castors or other means to facilitate movement by the operator as required to perform its intended use, e.g. air conditioning unit. Hand-held Appliances: This is portable equipment intended to be held in the hand during normal use, e.g. hair dryer, drill, soldering iron Stationary Equipment or Appliances: This equipment has a mass exceeding 18 kg and is not provided with a carrying handle, e.g. refrigerator, washing machine. Fixed Equipment/Appliances: This is equipment of an appliance, which is fastened to a support or otherwise secured in a specified location, e.g. bathroom heater, towel rail. Appliances/Equipment for Building in: This equipment is intended to be installed in a prepared recess such as a cupboard or similar. In general, equipment for building in does not have an enclosure on all sides because on one or more of the sides, additional protection against electric shock is provided by the surroundings e.g. a built-in electric cooker. Information Technology Equipment (Business Equipment): Information technology equipment includes electrical business equipment such as computer and mains powered telecommunications equipment, and other equipment for general business use, such as mail processing machines, electric plotters, trimmers, VDUs, data terminal equipment, typewriters, telephones, printers, photo-copiers, power packs. Extension Leads: The use of extension leads should be avoided where possible. If used, they should be tested as portable appliances. It is recommended that 3-core leads (including a protective earthing conductor) be used. A standard 13 A 3-pin extension socket-outlet with a 2-core cable should never be used even if the appliance to be used in Class II, as it would not provide protection against electrical shock if used at any time with an item of Class I equipment. The length of an extension lead for general use should not exceed the following: Core Area Maximum Length 1.25mm2 12 metres 1.5mm2 15 metres 2.5mm2 25 metres* 2.5mm2 cables are too large for standard 13 A plugs, but they may be used with BS EN 60309 industrial plugs. These maximum lengths are not applicable to the flex of an appliance, for guidance refer to paragraph 15.13 (IEE Code of Practice for In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment). If extension lead lengths do exceed the above, they shall be protected by a 30 mA RCD manufactured to BS 7071.

The 'Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations' states that new equipment should be inspected 'after installation and before being put into service' and, 'after assembly at a new site or location'. We recommend a common sense approach - that new items be incorporated into your regular PAT testing routine, but in the meantime, any new items should be visually checked over by the 'responsible person' employed in your company to oversee electrical safety.

If carried out correctly, PAT Testing does not damage any equipment. We use special 'soft tests' when testing I.T. equipment, this form of testing is perfectly safe for delicate electrical appliances such as I.T. equipment.

Frequency of testing depends on the type of equipment and the environment in which it is used. The frequencies we recommend are based on the guidelines by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET) and our own experience.

Typically, PAT Testing takes about 2 - 3 minutes per electrical appliance. One engineer can test between 100 and 200 appliances a day, depending on the type of appliances being tested and the location.

Not usually. Most minor faults can be put right before being tested, eg. incorrect fuse sizes, loose wiring in plugs etc.

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