Is PAT testing a legal requirement?
Contrary to popular belief portable appliance tests on electrical equipment are not a specific legal requirement, however they should be an important part of the health and safety and risk management of your business.
You have a duty of care to ensure that your tools and equipment are safe to use.
All businesses should carry out risk assessments of their activities, to make sure they are done safely, to protect your staff and the public who visit your premises against injuries. If you have more than 5 employees you should have in place a written health and safety policy.
Your risk assessment and health and safety policy would include making sure that electrical items, tools and equipment are in good condition and are safe to use.
The simplest way to ensure that electrical items are safe is to check them regularly to ensure that they are in good condition and not likely to cause injury.
Do I have to get my electrical items tested every year?
No. Good risk management would suggest to check electrical items regularly. Once a year would be a good idea for most items, but depending on how items and appliances are used or moved you may wish to consider getting them checked more regularly.
Under certain circumstances you may be contractually obliged to carry out PAT tests on your equipment.
If you are attending council run events such as markets or fairs you may be required to have your electrical equipment tested to ensure they are safe to use.
Also your insurance policies may contain a clause which stipulates you should take reasonable steps to prevent injury this would include carrying out risk assessments and making sure electrical items are safe to use.
How often should items be checked?
Depending on how the electrical item or appliance is used would dictate how often it has a portable appliance test.
An item that is very rarely moved such as a Desk Top computer may be checked less frequently than an item that is moved regularly. An appliance that is moved regularly, such as a vacuum cleaner, is more likely to suffer more wear and tear and should therefore be tested more frequently. Once annual is recommended for most appliances, but items such as portable hand tools and electric drills should be inspected more regularly as these are more susceptible to wear and tear.
What happens in-between annual PAT tests?
All electrical items could suffer wear between PAT tests, therefore it is vital that electrical items are visually inspected by the user every time they are used. The user of the equipment and electrical tools should carefully check the condition of the plug, cable and outer-casings of the device to check for damage before plugging it in.
Any damage such as broken casings, split or worn cables, or damaged plugs should mean that you discontinue use of that electrical appliance immediately and seek repairs or a replacement.
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