PAT Testing: how often should you be doing it in your small business?
PAT testing is the semi-regular safety check performed on electrical appliances in a business. This is the responsibility of business owners, employers, or landlords who provide electrical equipment for tenants.
The testing can be performed by a third party (and there are many service providers out there), or it can be done internally. Anyone can purchase PAT testing equipment and complete the work themselves.
The process involves both visual inspection of cords and fittings, along with electrical current tests (etc) completed with a PAT tester.
Pat Testing Frequency
How often you need to PAT test your electrical devices depends on the class of appliance.
There are five classes which appliances fall into, determined by their level of risk. Read the ‘Provision and Use of Work Equipment‘ regulations for a full brief, or take a look at this guide to appliance classes. Individual appliances should have a symbol identifying type of class.
As something of a case study, let’s consider a t shirt printing business and the type of equipment will require PAT testing. Remember to dig deeper to find out exactly what is needed in your case. This information is general in nature, and not intended to be the final word.
Small Business Pat Testing
The average print shop has a large variety of electrical equipment that would be considered high risk. There are many methods of t shirt printing, and many of them require heat and light.
Here is some of the standard equipment you will find:
- heat press machines
- cutting machines
- exposure units
There are a wide variety of printers used in t shirt design. Commonly you will find sublimation printers, inkjet printers, DTG printers, and more. Each printer produces different types of t shirt designs.
Most printers are considered low risk because they don’t tend to be shifted around often. This type of equipment will need to be visually inspected every 2 years, with a full test every 4 years.
Heat Press Machines
Heat press machines are a higher risk asset. These machines reach temperatures of well over 200°C, and need to be running safely.
You can expect to require a full test every 2 years. However, this will depend on factors such as whether or not the machine is fixed, if it is transported frequently, and level of electrical insulation.
The best heat press machines will have a high level of electrical quality and safety, while cheaper models will need to be tested more frequently.
Cutting machines are less prone to dangerous electrical fault when compared with heat press machines, but will still need to be tested every 2 years or so.
Some vinyl cutting machines are on castors or wheels, and are regularly moved around the shop. This movement creates wear and tear on cords and electrical connections, making it a class 1 appliance requiring more frequent tests.
There is always more equipment, cords, and multi-boxes in any business which require PAT testing certificates, but do not become annoyed at the process.
Sometimes all these rules and regulations can be burdensome, confusing, and frustrating. However, if you look beyond the enforcement and fines that we can be at risk of, PAT testing is a good thing.
We want our staff, tenants, and business assets to be safe. We don’t want anyone to be injured or killed because of an unsafe appliance. The procedure is fairly quick and easy, especially if you have your own Pat tester.
Don’t be overwhelmed or put off by the requirements, it’s not as difficult as you might think!