The process of conducting safety checks and certification of portable electrical devices is referred to as Test and Tag. This usually involves two parts – a visual inspection of the equipment for damage and then an electrical test of the equipment with a Portable Appliance Tester (PAT). A durable tag is then attached to the equipment. If the equipment does not pass the test, it is tagged and should not be used until it is repaired or replaced. If the equipment passes the test, it is tagged accordingly with the status, the test date, the next test’s due date and the name of the person who conducted the test.
All equipment should be tested periodically to ensure it is safe and the employees who use the equipment are not harmed.
What equipment needs to be tested?
With the exception of low voltage equipment (anything below 50V), any electrical equipment that is portable and has a cord and can be plugged in needs to be tested. New equipment doesn’t need to be electrically tested, however, a visual inspection for any damage can be conducted and the new equipment can be tagged accordingly.
Portable electrical equipment is usually separated into two categories
Any equipment that requires an earth wire is usually a Class I appliance. These appliances have 3 wires – live, neutral and earth. Other than basic insulation within the appliance, it depends on the earth wire for grounding so that the appliance is safe to use. Examples of these devices are – refrigerators, kettles, toasters, etc. The PAT tests required for Class I equipment comprises an Insulation Resistance Tests and Earth Continuity Tests to test the basic insulation and earth connection.
This equipment usually has the symbol of a square within a square. It usually has only two wires (live and neutral) and doesn’t require the earth wire for the added insulation of grounding because the appliance is Double Insulated. It has two layers of protection built in to make it safe to use. Examples of these appliances are DVD players, hair dryers, etc. The PAT test Class II equipment is usually just an Insulation Resistance Test.
Is it mandatory?
Given the higher risk factor, it is mandatory for the mining, demolition and construction industries. Typically the equipment needs to be tested and tagged every three months; however, the equipment should be tested by the employees every day before use. The colored tags indicate which month the equipment requires testing for easier equipment management.
Other than these industries it is not a mandate, but the employer is responsible for the safety of an employee and their working conditions. If any harm or damage occurs, the owner is liable for it. For this reason it is advisable to have all your equipment tested and tagged to ensure the equipment is safe.
How often should equipment be tested?
The frequency of testing required depends on many things – the work environment, the type of equipment, how old the equipment might be, how many workers are impacted by the equipment etc. Call our helpline to get more information about the frequency of testing required for your equipment. Our team of professional electricians can assist you.
Who should conduct PAT tests?
It is ideal to have a licensed electrician help you test and tag your equipment. This will ensure the safety of your employees and equipment. The guidelines do mention that the tests can be conducted by someone who is considered a Competent Person. This would mean that an employee would require some training and certification in PAT testing. Even though this is an option, it is best left to certified electricians who can help you remove or recertify your equipment to ensure you are secure.
Call our helpline any time, our lines are always open. We can have a team of certified electricians visit your site and help you get all your equipment tested and tagged.