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PAT testing / small equipment

Portable appliance testing is commonly abbreviated to P.A.T. testing. However, the correct full term for the process is ‘In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment’.

It is a process whereby electrical appliances are routinely checked to ensure that they are safe for use. Testing should be carried out at regular intervals to ensure continual safety.

It is often incorrectly assumed that all appliances have to be tested annually. However, what UK law requires is that all appliances are safe, as far as is reasonably practicable. This in effect requires the implementation of a systematic and regular programme of maintenance, inspection and testing.

Guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEE) advises that intervals for inspection and testing can range from as often as every three months, (for construction equipment or other equipment used under harsh conditions) to as long as four years (for that such as an office computer).

For guidance in selecting and applying inspection intervals, reference can be made to:

  • The Code of Practice for In- Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment, published by the Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEE).
  • HSE document, Maintaining portable appliances in offices and other low risk environments (IND(G)236L)
  • HSE document, Maintaining portable electrical equipment in hotels and tourist accommodation (IND(G)237)
  • Maintaining Portable and Transportable Electrical Equipment (HSG107)
  • Guidance on the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (HSR25)

Although there is no mandatory requirement to produce or keep records on the condition of electrical equipment, HSE guidance in the Electricity at Work Regulations (HS(R)25), recommends that records of maintenance, including test results, enables the condition of equipment and effectiveness of maintenance policies to be monitored. It would always be prudent to follow this guidance as records are essential if an effective and efficient testing regime is to be established.

All equipment that has been tested and inspected should be clearly identifiable. This should include:

  • An identification mark that is unique to that piece of equipment
  • Date that the equipment was tested
  • Equipment status i.e. pass/fail
  • Re-test date or period.

Additional information such as the testers ID, company ID or fuse rating etc may be added if required.

This information should be attached to the equipment where it can be clearly seen and be capable of withstanding the period between tests without deteriorating. Any equipment that fails a test must contain a clear visual warning of this and be immediately removed from use.

Which Scafftag systems can help?

Requirement Relevant products
Testing and inspecting equipment at regular intervals to ensure continual safety Microtag – plant
Nanotag – plant
Safetrak – plant
Maintaining a record of all inspections Safetrak – plant
Identifying equipment has been tested and inspected and ensuring employees are informed if equipment is not safe to use Microtag – plant
Nanotag – plant
Safetrak – plant

For further advice on developing a PAT testing / small equipment inspection system, request a free Scafftag on-site visit, click here

Relevant Legislation:

  • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAW)
  • The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
  • The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)
  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR)