20 May 2017

Some shocking PAT testing...

I was more than a little disturbed last night, to learn of some dodgy PAT (portable appliance) testing that is currently underway in a major chain of bookmakers across the UK.

I stumbled across this by chance, during a telephone interview after I had been approached (out of the blue) about a PAT testing job. Naturally I declined that job, despite the extra income being potentially very useful right now.

The problem is that I was told that the PAT testing is generally confined to a visual inspection only, because the equipment in the bookmakers cannot be switched off. Put simply, if the equipment looks OK it passes and the appliance doesn't go anywhere near any test equipment.

To my mind, that rather defeats the object of PAT testing. We need to know that the equipment is safe and that can only be ascertained by plugging it in to some test equipment. If you are not going to do that, why bother...?

Even if I accepted that a visual inspection was sufficient (which I don't), there is another problem. If the visual inspection is being done properly, the plug and fuse should be checked carefully. To do that, the equipment needs to be switched off and the plug removed from the socket in the wall. If the equipment is not being switched off, the plug clearly isn't being checked. There could be various hazards inside, due to incorrect wiring or loose connections. It could be incorrectly fused too.

Needless to say, I was not impressed.

However, from what I have discovered at the site where I have been PAT testing myself, it seems that this kind of "stick a pass label on it and hope for the best" approach is a lot more common than you would imagine. Last year, I found some plugs which had clearly not been properly checked before, as if they had been they would have failed instantly.

There seem to be a lot of cowboy firms around at the moment, undercutting each other on PAT testing and not doing the job properly. I am not sure what we can do about that, but if you are looking for PAT testing services it is something to be aware of and look out for.

The cheapest quote is almost certainly not going to do the job properly.