Excellence in Portable Appliance Testing

pat code of practiceNovember 2012 saw the introduction of the fourth edition of the Institution of Engineering and Technology's Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment. This is an approved code of practice and has a special status in law.

The new Code of practice for In-service Inspection and Testing (AKA PAT testing) has been updated to take into account the Lofstedt report that was commissioned by HM Government to review health and safety legislation and approved Codes of Practice.

Below we outline the major changes, clarifications and editions.

Responsibility for electrical safety now to be placed on a named 'duty holder'

Companies should now appoint a named person to be responsible for the maintenance and safety of electrical equipment in the work place. This maybe the Director/Owner/Landlord/Landlords agent or you may nominate a manager or other member of staff.

The most important consideration is that this person must be competent to undertake this duty:

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 Regulation 16 states: "No person shall be engaged in any work activity where technical knowledge or experience is necessary to prevent danger or, where appropriate, injury, unless he possesses such knowledge or experience, or is under such degree of supervision as may be appropriate having regard to the nature of the work."

The duty holder will now be responsible for undertaking risk assessments to determine the frequency of inspection and if necessary testing of your electrical equipment. This maintenance and inspection is a requirement under The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 Regulation 4 (2) "As may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, such danger." 

Although this may mean that you have to invest extra time in these risk assessments it could save you money in the long run. In particular there are a lot of PAT testing firms that suggest that all equipment should be inspected and tested every year. See this page for more details.

Please bear in mind that the duty holder may need additional training for this role. The 'buck' now firmly stops at the directors desk.

Newly added persons who have responsibility

Landlords and property management companies who are in control of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO's) and hirers and suppliers of hired equipment are added to this list of duty holders.

Changes to the recommended inspection and testing frequencies and to what equipment should be maintained 

flex out-let plate

Following consultation with equipment manufacturers the recommended inspection and testing frequencies have been adjusted. Remember these frequencies are not set in stone you should use them only as guidance. 

More importantly it lays down recommendations for the whole electrical installation: 'the installation from the meter point to the socket-outlet, or fuse connection unit, all equipment in an installation, whether permanently connected or connected by a plug and socket-outlet.'

So items that are directly wired to the electrical system such as immersion heaters, combi-boilers and cookers are now included in the tables and should be inspected and tested based on your risk assessment.

The Code of Practice does however exclude items of heavy plant such as air handling units (AHU), heating ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC) These systems are often subject to a periodic maintenance and inspection programme by specialist contractors and advice should be sought. 

PASS labels on equipmentPAT Label

As the inspection frequency is to be decided by an ongoing risk assessment there is now no re-test date.
Also the labels now should not have 'Tested for Electrical Safety' as some equipment may only require a visual inspection in some low risk areas. The Code of Practice suggests 'SAFETY CHECK' and the date of this check along with the inspectors initials.

An extra item has been added to the User Check: 'Check the item has a legible label attached....'

Standard forms

There is no longer two seperate forms: one for Visual Inspections and one for Combined Inspections.

Instead there is a new form: 'Equipment formal visual and combined inspection and test record'

These changes have already been made to our reports.

The Law

There is some new and expanded information on the following legislation:

The Housing Act 2004 (England & Wales)
The Housing (Scotland) Act 2006
The Electrical (Safety) Regulations 1994
Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment Regulations 2006

Please note: We will update The Law page with more details shortly. 

New and second-hand equipment

The Code of Practice clarifies that new equipment would not normally need testing as the manufacturer would have performed production testing. It however notes that due to handling and transit after the production testing that some damaged may have occurred. We would recommend a visual inspection is carried out as a minimum before putting new equipment into service.

Second-hand equipment that is to be sold must be safe and fit for purpose.

Hired Equipment

Equipment that you hire-in such as water coolers or tools are under your control and so should be risk-assessed and inspected and tested as needed. Equipment that you hire-out is no longer included in the Code of Practice. This equipment is covered by a separate document 'Guidance on Electrical Safety in the Hire Industry'  

Other changes

  • Microwave oven leakage is no longer part of the Code of Practice.
  • The section on production testing has been removed.
  • There has been some additional changes to the way we test equipment.
  • There has been changes to some of the definitions used.
  • Surge protection devices are now included.
  • The section on training has been expanded mainly to emphasise the need for competency. 

One final note:
The IET (The Institution of Engineering and Technology) is the new institution formed by the merger of the IEE (The Institution of Electrical Engineers) and the IIE (The Institution of Incorporated Engineers) 

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