There are many health and safety rules and regulations in the workplace that we may complain about at times, but when all is said and done, they are there for our safety. Some of them surround electrical equipment, and with good reason. Electricity is an essential energy source in both domestic and industrial premises, but we do tend to overlook the fact it can be dangerous in certain circumstances.
Even in the home, simple appliances can become a possible source of injury if they are faulty or damaged; a faulty earth, for example, or loose wiring can cause all sorts of problems. At home, the onus is on the homeowner to ensure that all visitors to that home are safe around the electrical appliances that are in use. In the workplace, it is a legal requirement of the employer to ensure that the workplace is safe at all times, and this applies even to small electrical appliances in the office.
What is PAT?
PAT is Portable Appliance Testing. It is a required procedure in all working areas in the UK. It is not, however, as complex as you might think, and can be done quite quickly and easily. Basically, PAT is designed to make sure that – at the time the test was carried out – all appliances in the workplace are safe to use.
If you have a quick look around your office, or wherever your working environment may be, you will quickly see why this is so. On your desk you likely have a computer, perhaps a lamp, there may be a printer nearby and photocopier. You might also have a phone charger, or even a radio, and there will be heaters nearby, too.
In the office kitchen, for example, you will find a kettle, perhaps a microwave or other form of cooking appliance, and many more electrical items. All of these have to be PAT certified, and it is a legal requirement that the paperwork relating to PAT in the workplace is kept available for five years, and can be produced for inspection on request.
So, now we know what PAT is, how do you perform the test, and who can do it?
The PAT Test
PAT testing is actually a routine procedure. There is no legal requirement for a qualification for whoever carries out the test, they simply need to be ‘a competent person’. However, it is recommended that you either put your chosen personnel through one of the many courses that will teach them all they need to know about PAT testing, or engage a third-party company to perform the routine for you – like PAT Testers.
A PAT tester will need to know how to use a multimeter, a device that is used for measuring a variety of factors such as voltage, resistance, amperage and so on. These are very easy to learn to use, and the operator will be taught when trained what each readout means. There are various types of meter available, but for simple office PAT testing the basic multimeter should do the job.
They will also be taught how to record the results, whether manually or by uploading to a computer programme or app, and will also learn how to perform the basic, initial visual inspection that looks for frayed wires, damaged cords, other damage to the appliance and so on. Once trained, you have a handy person on your team who will be able to perform the relevant test on any new appliances or equipment that you bring into your workplace, so everyone can rest assured they are in a safe place to work.