What would we do without electricity? It’s fair to say that we would be completely lost! The world would, after all, be a completely different place. Try this: if you are in your office right now, do a quick count of the number of devices you need that use a mains electric power source. There are a quite a few, right?
The computer you are reading this on is probably one, and it may well have a printer, scanner and other peripherals attached. Your mobile phone charger is also one, and then there’s the photocopier and various other office machines that need to be plugged in to work.
The question is, how do you know that all of these items are safe and operating correctly? After all, electricity can be dangerous, even at low voltages, so what steps are taken to ensure your safety in the workplace?
First, it is the basic legal duty of your employer to ensure your workplace is a safe environment to work in. This extends to what we call Portable Appliance Testing, or PAT. This is a routine check of all electrical equipment in the workplace that is carried out on a regular basis, and it is a legal requirement in the UK and Ireland – and in many other countries, too.
The Basics of PAT
In short, the purpose of PAT testing is to determine if any of the electrical items in the workplace – whether that is an office, factory or other industrial setting – are not fit for use. In other words, the person designated to do the test must assess each and every one for safety purposes. This is done in two stages: the first is a basic visual check, the second uses a device called a PAT tester, and these come in various levels of complexity.
For a basic office PAT test, the routine would be as follows:
Perform visual checks – look for damaged power cords and extension leads, overloaded sockets, damaged electrical items, faulty wiring and exposed wires or other parts of the devices in question.
PAT testing – use the relevant device to check for electrical output problems, resistance, correct earthing and any other factors that might cause problems, including faulty radiation regulation in microwave ovens.
The law does not state that a qualified professional has to carry out PAT testing, only a ‘competent person’ but clearly from even the above brief summary, there is a requirement for some training in order to get the best results.
Although it is not a legal requirement, it is recommended that you ensure some of your workforce are sufficiently trained in what is required for successful PAT testing at PAT Testers. This involves understanding what to look for in the visual examination, as well as knowing how to use the PAT tester device, and understanding what the readings signify.
There are short courses you can put your team through that will help them in all areas of the PAT testing routing, and these are run in both the UK and Ireland, and have ben used successfully by many companies of all types and sizes. They will teach the participant all they need to know about PAT testing, why it is important, what to look for and how to correctly fill out the required and relevant paperwork.
If you think it would be easier to get a third party in to PAT test for you then there are people who specialise in the job, but it may be easier for you to train your staff, so check out courses now and see just how you can benefit.