Not all businesses need to carry out PAT testing as a legal requirement and with the recession lasting far longer than any of us would have hoped for, some business owners may be considering not undertaking portable appliance testing in 2012 in order to cut costs and save money. However it should be noted that in the case of an accident due to faulty electrical equipment, then the responsibility will rest with either the business owner, or the person who is accountable for all equipment used within the workplace. Unfortunately we live in a blame culture so every time an accident happens, which causes either a minor or more serious injury, the injured party will more than likely seek somebody to blame and possibly sue for damages.

By making sure all your electrical equipment is properly tested on a regular basis can help protect yourself and your company from legal proceedings in such unfortunate events. If in the past you've hired a testing electrician to undertake your electrical testing and feel that, due to current financial constraints, the cost is somewhat prohibitive, then you could consider carrying out your own PAT testing. Now before you say "but I wouldn't know where to start", chances are you are probably more competent than you think. If you've ever bought any second hand electrical equipment, be it an electric drill, cassette player or television set, then no doubt you've checked that the appliance has a cable and plug, its casing is not cracked or smashed in any way and the appliance generally appears to be in good working order.

This 'once over' is called a visual inspection and is one half of PAT testing. Most dangerous faults can be visually detected, such as a frayed power cable where bare live wires could be exposed, or where the casing has been damaged to such an extent that some electrical components inside the appliance may also have been damaged. If it doesn't look right, chances are it isn't and by using your eyes and common sense is exactly what a qualified electrician would be using when conducting a visual inspection. Less frequently required than a visual inspection is the testing of resistance, earthing and polarity of your electrical appliances. This is done using a PAT tester, being an electronic device which tests for potential faults which cannot be visually detected. The most simple to use is called a pass/fail tester and can be bought relatively cheaply. These can be used by a competent individual, and as long as you record, sign and date the results, you are fulfilling your obligation with regards to health and safety.

It should be noted however, that in many cases, undertaking your own portable appliance testing may well prove to be a false economy in means of the time taken out of your normal work routine to carry out such tests. A qualified test electrician will be able to carry out the task quicker and more efficiently than the 'competent layman'. A proper testing engineer will get the job done and dusted with minimum disruption to workflow and therefore proving themselves to be money well spent.

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