Is it time for your school's PAT testing? If so, you might want to read on - it could save your school a small fortune.
PAT testing is one of those fields where a lot of people get confused about how it works, what the requirements are and who can do it. The regulations have gradually become clearer in recent years, but a lot of people, particular those in schools, are not aware of the requirements associated with PAT testing.
Most schools will rely on outsourced firms for PAT testing, mainly because they are not aware that they don't have to. Anyone can do PAT testing, as long as there is somebody within the organisation who can prove that they are competent to do so.
Is PAT Testing A Legal Requirement?
In a word, no.
This is perhaps where most people get confused about PAT testing. While it isn't a legal requirement per se, it is however one of the most universally accepted ways of ensuring compliance with the requirements of the the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. These regulations state:
"As may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, such danger"
PAT testing is basically the most universally accepted method of testing electrical appliances in this manner; while PAT testing itself is not a legal requirement, not following these regulations plus other regulations such as the Health and Safety at work Act 1974 will land you in legal troubles and with potentially hefty fines.
Remember: PAT testing is not the legal requirement - it is the most common method of ensuring you follow the law
Who Can PAT Test?
Another of the most common misconceptions about PAT testing is that it is only qualified electricians who can actually do it.
This is totally incorrect. In fact, anyone PAT test, but they must be deemed 'competent' to do so.
There is no current, concrete way that a person is deemed competent. The most universally accepted method to competency is to attend and pass a PAT testing training course, but this may not always be necessary for those with proven electrical experience.
For those brand new to the industry with no prior understanding of PAT testing, we strongly recommend that a training course is taken to ensure you know how to use the equipment safely and effectively.
But what does this mean for PAT testing in your school? In short, it means you could train existing members of staff to be 'competent' to PAT test; this in turn will lead to you being able to carry out the testing in-house rather than outsourcing, and could dramatically reduce the amount you spend on getting your electrical appliances PAT tested.
In fact, many schools in recent years have began to adopt this change, employing their handymen, janitors or other staff to do PAT testing themselves.
What Do I Need to PAT Test Myself in My School?
If you're seriously considering sorting out PAT testing yourself without outsourcing, all you'll need are two things.
- A person, or person(s), who are competent enough to PAT test safely and confidently and have an understanding of the requirements placed upon them
- A PAT tester - you'll need an actual tester in your school so you can check your appliances
Once you've sorted out both of those, you'll simply need a time period where your members of staff can test your appliances. As you're more than likely already aware, mid-term or full term breaks are the ideal period to perform PAT testing, either with every appliance checked or in chunks throughout the year.
How Can I Organise PAT Traning for my Staff?
If your staff have no experience of electrical work and/or PAT testing, it is a good idea - although not legally required - for them to attend a PAT testing training course and gain an official certificate that shows they are competent to safely PAT test.
At PASS, we offer two ways for you to organise your PAT training.
- Our nationwide PAT testing training course, led by industry professionals, is ideal for training in a practical and theory-based way. You can view more information on this by visiting our PAT testing training website.
- Alternatively you can train your staff with our accredited PAT Testing Training DVD. This includes access to our online exam for one person, but we are able to organise additional exams for other staff if needed.
Where Can I Get a PAT Tester?
We also sell a wide variety of PAT testing kits catering for everyone from basic users with a small amount of appliances to test to advanced professionals testing thousands of appliances.
Currently we offer a selection of PAT kits which have been purposely put together for schools:
- UNI-T UT528 PAT Tester School Bundle - basic, easy-to-use tester with no memory (meaning you'll have to write down results yourself
- Fluke 6500-2 PAT Tester School Bundle - advanced, downloadable PAT tester with memory for easier management of appliances and their results
Confused about which PAT tester you need? That's perfectly understandable; there are a wide variety of different units available, all with different functions. If you need some assistance choosing between the available units, please call us directly and our sales team will be more than happy to point you in the right direction.
Ready to start saving your school money?
PAT testing yourself is a real alternative that you should take advantage of. Here's what you need to remember:
- PAT testing is not a legal requirement - it's the method of ensuring compliance with several regulations
- Anyone can PAT test, even those with no prior electrical experience
- You must be deemed 'competent' to PAT test, either through previous electrical training or through PAT training courses (although there is no exact method which determines what competency actually is)
- All you'll need to do it yourself is a competent member of staff and your own PAT tester