So, you think you need PAT Testing but do you really?
And, if you do, what does it entail?
The Institution of Engineering and Technology provide a very detailed description of what is required and when, their recommendations are contained in the Code of Practice for In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment (4th Edition).
The Code of Practice, combined with guidelines from the Health and Safety Executive, form the foundations of how your PAT My Cottage Technician will conduct herself or himself in your property with reference to technical aspects of testing.
Our own Code of Conduct adds even more requirements to their working practices, specifically covering timeliness, integrity and respect for your property, your guests and yourself.
To engage our services, all you need to do is contact us with an outline of your requirement, everything from that point will be bespoke to your needs.
- We will find a mutually convenient time to conduct the testing, your annual renewal date is based on the month of testing rather than a specific date. This month-long window allows you time to schedule the PAT Testing based on your own business needs.
- We will allocate the technician most suited to your needs and our wider programming calendar, we will contact you at least 7 days prior to the visit to confirm the finer details.
- Many of our properties are large hotels and, as such, often have guests staying during the testing period. We work closely with the House Manager to test during the low occupancy period in the middle of the day. For Holiday Cottages, this process would apply to the handover day.
- If we find a problem with an appliance and we can repair it on-site, we will. If it cannot be repaired we will contact the on-site manager or property owner at the earliest opportunity. We won’t leave a failed and dangerous item in a public place, we have been known to pop out and buy a new kettle for cottages with guests arriving later the same day!
- After testing, we will contact the owner/manager and report the PAT Testing complete, the detailed PAT Report and Asset Register will follow along with the Certificate of Conformity after the invoice has been settled.
- Without obligation, we would contact you 1 month prior to the renewal month the following year to remind you of the Testing Anniversary.
The testing procedure differs with every item being tested.
- We need to isolate the electricity supply to all appliances but not to the property.
- In the very rare event of a piece of equipment needing to remain live (server cabinets, security systems, obstructed power supplies, etc) we would conduct a thorough visual inspection and make recommendations to conduct a formal test when the system is next isolated.
- All portable appliances will have a flex and a plug of some kind, the other end of the flex can be hard-wired to the appliance or be wired to a separate connector which then plugs into the appliance. A modern kettle is a good example (consisting of a Kettle Base and a Kettle Body), each requiring a test and therefore two entries on the Asset Register.
- It is common for some appliances to have their flex threaded through cabinets, cupboards and occasionally walls, in these cases a visual inspection may be required of one or both ends of the flex. That said, every effort will be made to bridge the gap and a full electrical test will be conducted.
- If there are appliances relying on continual WiFi feed, such as security cameras or even IP-fridges, please let us know in advance of the PAT Testing. We would ordinarily isolate portable internet routers but this sometimes requires Administrative Control to re-initiate the WiFi connection.
Final Point on “Portable”
The question we are asked most in larger venues is “What constitutes Portable?”
There is a simple answer but this only serves as a guide to you, the client:
Generally, anything over 18Kg or an appliance having a hard-wired flex at both ends (such as a conventional domestic oven) is not classed as portable.
That said, there are many items over 18Kg which you would want to have tested, such as washing machines. In venues where there is a high proportion of guest or visitors, testing become more important as there is a higher chance of accidental damage and wear & tear.
What do we recommend?
This is such an interesting question to pose, we have clear guidelines but stress we are only able to offer this as a recommendation.
Difficulties come from the lack of legislation governing the periodicity of testing, nowhere does it state in H&S, Engineering Standards or Code of Practice legislation that appliances must be tested at a specific interval. But, taking into account the aforementioned documents and applying extensive industry experience, we would recommend annual testing for all holiday properties. This is based on the following justification:
- Any property with regular changes of occupants will, in our experience, see a higher degree of accidental damages to appliances.
- Guests encountering a minor fault will sometimes not inform the property owner, but attempt to rectify a potential problem themselves. This approach is laudable and not meant to cause problems, but we have seen appliances with repairs which were actually more dangerous than the original fault.
- Insurance companies are becoming more restrictive in their own policies, not only stating that appliances should be tested, but also stating they should be tested by an independent company. This is more restrictive than the legislation determines, but is well within their power to enforce.
- Some holiday home associations and large agencies conduct their own H&S risk assessment and have concluded, to safeguard their own business activities, will no longer take on new clients without proof of independent testing.
We are always willing to discuss our recommendation on an individual basis as well as in a formal gathering, such as AGMs and Conferences. We founded PAT My Cottage to help the Tourism Sector in its entirety, this does not only mean on-site work. We have a long-term aim to help businesses and independent property owners wade through the legislation in a structured way to safeguard property and guests – even if this means your risk assessment concludes not conducting PAT Testing.