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PAT Testing In The Office

The office environment might not strike you immediately as the most hazardous workplace, but accidents do happen and it is still governed by many different health and safety regulations. Over the past eighteen months it is possible that not many people have been in the office and previous safety procedures may have therefore been neglected, and with employees now beginning to return it is important to ensure they are returning to a safe environment.

One of the most common safety procedures in an office environment is PAT testing, and this is a short guide to what every employer needs to be aware of.

What is PAT Testing?pat tester

PAT stands for Portable Appliance Testing. This is the testing of portable appliances to ensure they are safe to use. The process involves a visual inspection, insulation and earthing & continuity testing for internal faults and identifying each item as passing or failing the test. If an item has failed it should be identified as such, withdrawn from use and a repair or replacement arranged. You should also prepare a full inventory of items, keep accurate testing records and determine a testing frequency for each item.

Who is responsible for PAT Testing?

Ultimately the employer is responsible for the health, safety and wellbeing of all employees, so they should ensure PAT Testing is arranged and takes place. However, the procedure itself should be carried out by a competent person who is trained in using the equipment and the safe testing procedures. This can be an internal or externally-appointed person.

Is PAT testing a legal requirement?

A business must ensure that electrical equipment in the workplace is safe and is maintained as such, according to The Electricity at Work Regulations (1989). The most effective way to do this is by carrying out a PAT testing programme. So PAT testing itself is not a legal requirement, but it is the best way to fulfil your legal obligations.

How often is PAT Testing required?

There is no set frequency for PAT Testing, but it is recommended that you carry out a risk assessment to determine the nature of each type of equipment, how it is used, where it is used, how it is stored and maintained, and the nature of potential hazards and possible consequences. From this you can work out a reasonable frequency. Not all equipment has to be tested on the same frequency, so some items may be tested annually, but if another item is only used infrequently, is rarely moved and isn’t subjected to any wear and tear, it can be tested every two years, for example. It is recommended that every item is tested every four years as a minimum frequency.

What needs to be tested?

The general guide is that anything that is plugged into a mains socket needs to be tested, even if, in theory, that item is not portable. So in an office environment this will also involve items in communal kitchens and toilets, so will include (amongst other things):

  • PCs and monitors
  • Phones
  • Photocopiers
  • Desk fans
  • Kettles
  • Microwaves
  • Fridges
  • Toasters
  • Servers
  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Hand dryers

What PAT Testing equipment do you use?

TIS can supply all the equipment you need to carry out an effective PAT testing programme. Your competent person can use a testing instrument to carry out the tests and record the results internally. With some instruments, these results can also be downloaded and shared on spreadsheets. You also need test lead adaptors for linking the tested item to the test instrument. You need standard Pass/Fail stickers on which you are able to record a test date, a unique item ID number and who carried out the test. These need to be robust and visible but unobtrusive to someone using the item if it is safe to do so. You also need some form of logging system to record the results and provide an indication of when the next test is due.

You can speak to TIS about all these PAT testing items and accessories and about any of the duties and requirements outlined above.

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