A Portable Appliance Tester is responsible for ensuring that all electrical equipment and appliances are safe to be used. Working with electricity requires a degree of common sense and competency however, it may surprise many people to know, this is one position that doesn’t legally require the worker to hold any kind of relevant certification.
Whilst there are no specific regulations placed on companies to undertake PAT Testing, many responsible employers understand the need to have their electrical appliances tested at regular intervals to ensure safety. Employers are ultimately responsible for their employee’s safety and therefore PAT Testing can safeguard a workplace and all those who work in it.
Not all PAT Testers are Electricians
Whilst there are many Electricians that PAT Test, there is no rule that states Pat Testers need to hold any kind of electrical qualification or trade experience. It is assumed rather that the in-depth background and knowledge of an Electrician makes it easier for them to interpret data and understand the requirements involved. However, an extensive knowledge of electrical theory is not a requirement for this type of role and people without electrical training and qualifications can also become PAT Testers. In fact, more companies are choosing to train a wide range of employees as their designated testers so all electrical appliances can be checked and updated in-house without the need to employ outside services.
Requirements for a PAT Tester
There are several desirable requirements that ensure a good PAT Tester:
Common Sense: As PAT Testing ultimately involves dealing with electricity, an element of common sense is needed. Electricity, if not dealt with correctly, can seriously harm or even kill. A PAT Tester should be aware that safety is paramount to carry out their role and undertake such procedures with due care and attention. Adhering to specific safety guidelines and protocol is essential for this role.
Confidence: Because the number of electrical appliances are numerous, a PAT Tester needs to be confident in using and handling all electrical appliances as well as using a variety of industry standard PAT Testing machines.
Practicality: PAT Testing is predominately practical based. Some electrical appliances can be visually identified for faults. A good PAT tester should be able to look at appliances and immediately notice any visible faults.
Competence: Perhaps the most important trait of a PAT Tester is competency. A tester needs to understand the reasons why PAT testing is required. More importantly, they need to be able to read, interpret and understand the results that portable appliance testing produces and then record that information correctly and efficiently.
Training and certification is preferable
Entry into the role of a PAT Tester can be either by an experienced employer or another employee teaching a person the necessary skills. However, the most popular and preferred route is through a short training course from an established and trusted training provider. Many Insurance providers prefer to see evidence of all appliances being tested every 12 months to comply with policy. Experience and training is the main requirement deemed suitable by many employers to achieve this.
Training can provide the necessary technical knowledge to perform the role with confidence and ensures practical and hands on experience. Whilst most training providers provide a successful employee with a certificate upon completing their PAT Testing training, such certification isn’t a recognised qualification but rather confirmation of a person’s competence to begin carrying out PAT Testing. However, it should be noted that whilst there are no legal requirements to update this certificate regularly, a competent PAT Tester should take it upon themselves to ensure they keep their skills updated, perhaps refreshing their knowledge every few years or so.
For more information on the role of a PAT Tester, the HSE Website contains helpful, relevant and up-to-date information on the subject http://www.hse.gov.uk/electricity/faq-portable-appliance-testing.htm