The main changes in the New Edition of the Code of Practice are based on ideas of limiting excessive testing and carrying out appropriate risk assessments, to determine the periods between tests.
Clearly it is sensible to take into account the results of PAT testing. If very few or no items fail PAT testing, it suggests that equipment is well looked after, well specified for the job and has not been misused. On the other hand, if a significant percentage of appliances fail PAT testing, clearly there is cause for concern.
In the first place it would be reasonable to extend the interval between tests. In the second case, any sensible risk assessor would understand that more frequent visual inspection and/or more frequent testing was required.
The table of suggested test frequencies, which now includes fixed appliances, such as hand dryers is now covered by portable appliance testing. It is now also clear that a significantly higher level of knowledge and skill is required if people are to carry out testing on fixed appliances. In our experience, the majority of people who do PAT testing would not be trained, qualified or sufficiently experienced to do that kind of work.
There is also some discussion regarding competency and a further explanation of the fact that basic electrical and electronic concepts, safe isolation procedures and safe systems of work can be derived from training, knowledge or previous experience. There is also emphasis that the inspection and testing should be carried out by someone who has sufficient knowledge not to put themselves at risk.
That means individuals need an understanding of the equipment they are working on and experience of the types of system present. The critical point being, that they can always determine that it is safe to continue working.
Overall the changes seem to be a sensible tidying up on guidance notes. Changes to the table of recommended initial frequencies have incorporated real world information from test equipment manufacturers but the emphasis, as always, is that organisations must do sensible risk assessments and that the standard approach of testing everything every 12 months is inappropriate.
Some items in high risk areas require far more frequent testing. At one extreme, visual inspection has been suggested on a monthly basis and testing on a three monthly basis. At the other extreme, visual inspection may be carried out every couple of years and no combined inspection and testing is required at all. That spread of suggested periods helps emphasise that risk assessments should discriminate between low and high risk situations and extra effort should be placed on high risk items and similarly, less effort placed on low risk items.
Suggested initial test frequency of inspection & testing of equipment
The tables below contain information regarding suggested test frequency, as taken from the 4th edition Code of Practice. The test frequency should be used as a guidance, using a risk based analysis. These tables are taken directly from the Martindale Illustrated Guide to PAT Testing.
Find out more with a PAT Training Course
Martindale Electric offer PAT Training courses, that cover these and other changes in full detail. This one day training course covers the following key areas:
- Why the need to PAT test (Electricity at work regulations, 1989)
- Who is responsible?
- A risk based approach
- Different classes of appliance
- What appliances should be tested
- Calculating the frequency of test & inspection
- What tests need to be carried out
- The test process
- How to interpret the test results
- Maintaining accurate records
- Practical inspection & test
For more information please call our sales team on 01923 441717, or email our sales department.