While we may bemoan the rise in prominence of Health and Safety regulations in the workplace, we all understand that they are in place for a reason – to keep us safe. Every employer has a legal requirement to make sure the workplace is a safe environment, and this extends to offices as much as it does to factories and other industrial settings.
If you are in an office, take a look around you: how many devices can you see that require an electrical power source to operate? Your computer is one, the printer perhaps another, then there’s the lamp on your desk, and various other items such as heaters, cleaning equipment and more.
Take a trip to the office kitchen and you will see a kettle, perhaps a microwave, maybe more cooking equipment. All of this needs electricity to operate, and there are certain rules and regulations concerning the regular checking and maintenance of electrical items in the workplace.
To begin with, it is a legal requirement in the UK and Ireland that all electrical items in the workplace are subject to Portable Appliance Testing, or PAT. This is a routine check that shows if an item is in a poor state of repair or otherwise, and it is advisable that you have one or more person on site who is capable of undertaking PAT testing.
While it is beneficial to you as an employer to have personnel in-house who can carry out PAT testing, there is no legal requirement for those persons to hold a qualification as such. The reason for this is that much of the PAT routine is simple.
For example, it begins with a visual check of the item itself, to see if there are any obvious problems such as damage or wear and tear, and also of the power cables and any other electrical equipment for faults, breaks or frayed wires.
Where your people may need training is in the use of a PAT testing device. These come in many forms and the basic idea is that they check for voltage output – that it is correct for the device concerned – plus resistance, which may indicate a problem within the item itself. You can also use kits that come with bar code scanners and printers, and some are used with software that is designed to upload the data you gather to a computer for analysis.
There are short and very effective courses available within the UK and Ireland that will equip your team with the knowledge and understanding to handle the relevant equipment – such as the PAT tester device – as well as instilling them with experience in what to look for with the visual test side of the test.
It is certainly worth checking out such courses and choosing a few members of staff to undergo the training, as any new equipment that comes on site will need to be PAT tested before it can be used.
Regular PAT training is also recommended, as there may be changes to the regulations and requirements over time. Also, staff turnover may result in your experience PAT testers moving on, so you will need other people to take on the job in their place.
If you think that the equipment you use is beyond the scope of an in-house PAT testing team, you should also consider getting expert professional help in to do the testing for you. There are many service providers who can help you with this. If you feel there might be additional danger involved, best turn to Arc Flash.
Meanwhile, check out PAT training courses, and keep your team up to scratch with the latest developments and methods.