The term PAT (or PAT testing) is a common abbreviation for the process of portable appliance testing within the UK, whereby electrical equipment is routinely examined to ensure correct working order.

Fundamentally, the procedure exists to safeguard anybody who might come into contact with these appliances while at work or while renting a property.

There is a lot of conflicting information surrounding the exact rules and regulations of PAT testing, resulting in people being unsure as to the correct process to follow. While the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 states that any portable electrical appliance that has the potential to cause harm should be maintained to a safe standard, there is no clear legislation regarding how often it should be carried out, or what the process involves.

Consequently, businesses should take an appropriate course of action to guarantee the safety of their workers by arranging regular appliance inspections. While a visual examination does not detect any internal irregularities with an appliance, it still forms an essential part of the PAT process in ruling out any obvious damage. Where a more formal inspection is required, however, it is best practice to have an inspection carried out from a PAT testing expert. This ensures that the appliance will receive a comprehensive test by someone who is best placed to detect any potential hazards. PAT professionals use specialist PAT testers to carry out detailed checks on your equipment to determine whether they are fit for purpose. The inspection analyses various components such as insulation resistance, earth continuity, safety switches and lead polarity.

The process does not take very long, usually around 15 minutes, and will show whether your appliance has passed or failed. Following the PAT test, it is recommended that appliances are labelled/barcoded for efficient future testing. The health and safety experts at Label Bar sell a wide range of PAT stickers that can be bought online. Since there are no legal stipulations surrounding how often an appliance should be inspected, a number of factors need to be considered in order to gauge the appropriate frequency of a PAT test. These include, the type of equipment, its age and the work environment it is used in. Consequently, many equipment manufacturers recommend that a PAT inspection is carried out annually, though recommendations may fluctuate according to how often an appliance is used.

You can also visit the Health and Safety Executive for useful information about PAT processes.

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