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PAT Testing – What is a Portable Appliance Anyway?

PAT Testing Information

It’s a phrase that those in the PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) industry use when writing blogs, twitter feeds, emails, Facebook page updates, mail-shots and in general conversation BUT as a business owner, are you aware what it really means??? More importantly are you aware that according to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) “25% of all reportable electrical accidents involve portable appliances”? If you’re an employer or business owner it is your responsibility to ensure your colleagues, employees and users of your business services and products – namely YOUR CUSTOMERS are protected from any worn or damaged portable appliances.

All well and good, if not a little worrying – but what is a Portable Appliance?

Whilst the HSE doesn’t give a definitive description of a Portable Appliance, the view generally held for business owners to bear in mind is as follows:

  • A piece of equipment that is hand held whilst still being connected to an electrical supply.
  • The equipment could also be intended to be moved whilst connected to an electrical supply.
  • The equipment is capable of being moved without undue difficulty whilst still being connected to the power supply so could be on wheels or castors.

Are they any alarm bells going off in your head about kit that you, your staff or your customers come into contact with?

The National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (NAPIT) do define a portable appliance as 'any electrical item which can or is intended, to be moved whilst connected to an electrical supply.'

The IEE Code of Practice gives guidance on the various equipment types:

Portable appliance - An appliance less than 18kg in mass that is intended to be moved whilst in use or an appliance which can easily be moved from one area to another, such appliances would include a vacuum cleaner, toaster, food mixer etc.

Movable equipment (transportable) - This equipment is either: 18 kg or less in mass and not fixed, e.g. electric fire or equipment with wheels, castors or other means to be moved by an individual as required to operate its intended use e.g. air conditioning unit.

Hand Held equipment or appliances - This is portable equipment intended to be held in the hand during normal use, e.g. hair dryer

Stationary equipment or appliances - This equipment has a mass exceeding 18kg and is NOT provided with a carrying handle, e.g. refrigerator

Fixed Equipment/appliances - This equipment or an appliance which is fastened to a support or otherwise secured in a specific location, e.g. bathroom heater

Appliances/equipment for building in - This equipment is intended to be installed in an alcove or prepared recess such as a cupboard or similar. In general, equipment for building in does not have exposure on all sides because one or more of the sides, additional protection against electrical shock is provided by the surroundings, e.g. built in electric cooker

Information technology equipment – IT equipment includes electrical business equipment such as computers and mains powered telecommunications equipment, and other equipment for general business use, such as visual display units, photo-copiers etc.

If you have any concerns about your equipment and if it needs PAT Testing or not then, please contact us and we’d be happy to ease any concerns or offer advice.