A dark stormy night, strong winds and rain, thunder and lightning in the background, and a flying kite with a metal key tied at the upper part of the strings. Yes, we’ve all heard about the urban legend of Benjamin Franklin and his experiment with the electrical power of lightning. This is probably the most popular story and study about electricity and electrical shock.
In today’s world, however, the risk of electric shock is becoming smaller as technology continues to develop safer products. Still, even if the risk is small, there’s still the possibility of getting electrocuted. This is where portable appliance testing, or PAT, comes in.
Electrical PAT testing describes the routine inspection and testing of electrical appliances that directly connects to an electrical outlet. Most of these tests are preventive maintenance measures to reduce the risk of electric shock, fire, explosions, or any other dangers that can be caused by defective equipment. Many countries that have equipment standards in place require this test to protect people from electrical shock.
In the United Kingdom, for example, PAT is required by the Health & Safety at Work Act and the Electricity at Work Act for machines and appliances, from the refrigerators, washing machines, power drills, hair dryers, to the computers and laptops at home and in the office. Insurance companies also ask for this test from their clients before issuing insurance policies, as this is often a potential hazard.
Conducting a PAT usually requires a person to get an electrical tester, and an appliance that’s disconnected from the power outlet. For more complicated and high-risk testing, a professional is needed to do the testing and interpreting the results.
In the UK, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) department recommends a three-level inspection system, which involves user checking, formal visual inspection and combined visual inspection, and regular testing and maintenance. Every homeowner, office, and property owner or manager is also required to perform and keep a record of their PATs.
Periodic PAT tests are often required to ensure the safe use of any and all appliances, be it at the home or the office. This ensures that there’ll literally be no shockers for you.