In everything that we do, safety should always be our top priority. This is especially true when we’re dealing with electrical equipment regularly. So as much as possible, we should make sure that all electrical equipment is safe for our use.
That’s why we must have these equipments checked to ensure our safety. And fortunately, we can avail of testing services for that purpose. That’s where portable appliance testing or PAT testing comes into the picture.
If you’re curious about PAT testing, then you came to the right place. In this article, we will give you an in-depth discussion about this process, why it’s important, and whether it’s required under our laws.
What is PAT Testing?
Before anything else, we want to explain what PAT Testing is first. Formally referred to as the process of in-service inspection and testing of electrical equipment, PAT testing is simply a routine inspection and testing of our portable appliances. That allows the technician to gauge whether the equipment itself or any of its cables, are faulty or still fit for our use.
The testing is generally divided into two processes: a visual inspection of the electric equipment and running tests to verify if said equipment will not cause any electrical accidents in the future. But, note that the tests involved can be categorized into multiple sub-tests.
Once the inspection and testing are over, the technician responsible then issues a certificate showing compliance with the PAT testing.
This process finds its origins in the mid-1900s in the United Kingdom. Since then, it has spread throughout the continent and to other parts of the world. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Is PAT Testing a Legal Requirement in Ireland?
At this point, you already know what PAT testing is. We have also mentioned that it started in the United Kingdom, which also spread out to other countries around the globe.
One of the countries where PAT testing is widely practiced is in the Republic of Ireland. The Irish government enacted a law that requires the conduct of these inspections and tests to ensure the safety of the public. And this discussion is at the heart of this article.
Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act of 2005, which is further implemented by the Statutory Instrument No. 299 of 2007, all businesses are required to have their portable appliances undergo PAT Testing.
By all businesses, it encompasses those in the construction industry, industrial industry, hotels, schools, commercial kitchens, and other equipment used by the public. Even the portable equipment used in offices and shops is required to undergo this testing. And that ensures that everything you need to use for your business won’t cause any electrical shock or accident.
The law specifically places the burden on the shoulders of businesses and employers to ensure that all their equipment is well-maintained and perfectly safe for use. These businesses are also required to keep track of all the testing they have conducted on their equipment.
The government body responsible for checking compliance with the law is the Health and Safety Authority or the HSA. The HSA also conducts random compliance checks, so employers should always be prepared.
Generally, PAT testing should be made yearly. But in some cases, you can also have the inspections performed monthly or quarterly, depending on the industry of your business.
So to answer the question: Is PAT testing a legal requirement in Ireland? The answer is a solid “yes.”
What are to be Tested Under PAT Testing?
From our discussion above, it’s easy to see that PAT testing is required for businesses using portable appliances or electrical equipment. But, we understand that this may seem too vague for some business owners – and that can certainly lead to confusion.
So to clarify things, what exactly is included in the term, “portable appliance”?
The answer to this question is quite simple. A portable appliance is any movable equipment that plugs into an electric source to function. There are two elements to consider here: the first is that it is capable of being moved from one place to another, and the second is that it should depend on an electrical power source. This includes small appliances such as laptops, personal computers, kettles, extension leads, and so on.
It also includes larger machinery, as long as it is not permanently fixed to its current location – just like the bulky copying machines often found in offices.
So if you’re a business owner who has any of these portable appliances in your place of work, know that you are mandated by law to have them undergo PAT Testing.
Who Can Conduct PAT Testing in Ireland?
At this point, you may already be curious about who conducts PAT testing. Fortunately, the law also provides us with the answer.
Under the law, these inspections and tests should be performed by competent PAT testing technicians. These technicians have undergone the necessary training to ensure compliance with the testing protocol. Aside from a good grasp of the class of appliance being tested, they should also have adequate knowledge in electricity with the corresponding experience in electric work.
These testing technicians must also understand all the hazards involved and take precautions in case the need arises.
As such, not anyone can perform PAT Testing. Make sure that you hire a company composed of experts in this type of special testing.
Benefits of PAT Testing
Before we end this article, we want to share some of the benefits that you can derive from PAT Testing.
- It helps protect your employees and the general public from any accidents caused by faulty electrical equipment and cables.
- It reduces the risk of developing fire-related accidents that stem from these electrical systems.
- It helps improve the longevity of your portable appliances.
- Since all your equipment is performing efficiently, that can also boost the overall performance of your business.
- If you’re interested in having it covered by insurance, the fact that you have complied with these legal requirements can help reduce your risk to land a better deal on your premiums.
- But most importantly, compliance with PAT testing can help you steer clear of legal fines and similar penalties.