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Do You Have to PAT Test New Appliances?

When new equipment and appliances come into your organisation, what are the rules regarding PAT testing? Are you obliged to test these pieces of new equipment, or do you simply leave them alone?

As the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) says: “New equipment should be supplied in a safe condition and not require a formal portable appliance inspection or test. However, a simple visual check is recommended to verify the item is not damaged.”

Of course, this depends entirely on your discretion. For extra safety it is recommended that you do actually PAT test the item, particularly if it is something that could be hazardous such as a heater.

It is also worth considering what is meant by ‘new’. New could either mean brand new equipment shipped from a manufacturer, or alternatively ‘new’ could refer to equipment that has been owned by employees being brought into the organisation.

By testing appliances that are new to your organisation it means that they can be added to the register and accounted for when it does come around to inspection time, otherwise you may have no way of knowing which appliances you have.

Another good reason for testing new products is that you are not aware if that appliance has actually come straight from the factory and been subject to manufacturer testing. For example, there was an occasion where a company had received a jet washer brand new from a very well-known industrial catalogue, only to find the equipment wasn’t safe.

This company had a policy of testing new appliances and when the PAT testing company came in and inspected the item they found that foil had been wrapped around the fuse. Further investigation found that the manufacturer had actually shipped the item without testing it extensively. Instead they’d simply plugged it in to check it was working, without looking inside the plug.

Sometimes when an engineer is in a hurry they may temporarily replace a fuse with foil, which is in itself extremely dangerous because foil doesn’t melt and break a circuit like a fuse does. By wrapping the foil around the fuse, the circuit inside the plug would be erratic, forcing the current to travel not through the fuse, but through the foil instead. If too much current flowed, the fuse wouldn’t blow and the appliance would become too dangerous to use.

Again it is entirely up to you whether you should carry out a portable appliance test on new equipment, but for the time that it takes it does make sense.

Written by Barry Atkins