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Thursday, 5 September 2013

Fixed Electrical Appliance Testing

A few weeks ago a customer inquired whether we provide test leads to go with our PAT Testers to test Fixed Appliances. When we asked why he wanted to do this, he said he had been advised to do this on a course based around the 4th Edition of the IET COP. 

This post tries to put the record straight.

A search in Google brought up some promotional material for the Apollo 600 which stated:


"The new IET Code of Practice recognises that the inspection and testing of appliances such as hot air hand dryers and water boilers can be more complex than portable and non-fixed equipment but this does not mean that only visual inspections are required." 

This I thought was the most likely source of this information.

I was quite surprised about this and dusted off my copy of the IET Code of Practice to have another look. This says that for offices and schools, the period between testing is 4 years. It also says that the period between testing can be relaxed based on a risk assessment. 

This means that if the risk assessment leads to the conclusion that only a Formal Visual Inspection is required then testing does not need to be carried out. As fixed appliances are not moved regularly there is little risk of damage to power cables. 

Summary

Providing leads with a PAT tester to carry out testing on Fixed Electrical Appliances is quite unnecessary.

First of all when PAT testing is based on the actual risks posed, often there is no need for any PAT testing of these appliances.
Secondly, inviting users to test fixed electrical appliances, can be quite dangerous - especially when it is not necessary.

Note

The Health and Safety Executive say the following in their myth buster section.


No. The law simply requires an employer to ensure that their electrical equipment is maintained in order to prevent danger. It does not say how this should be done or how often. 
Employers should take a risk-based approach, considering the type of equipment and what it is being used for. If it is used regularly and moved a lot e.g. a floor cleaner or a kettle, testing (along with visual checks) can be an important part of an effective maintenance regime giving employers confidence that they are doing what is necessary to help them meet their legal duties. 
HSE provides guidance on how to maintain equipment including the use of PAT.


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