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PAT Testing

Postby Peeb » Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:35 pm

Has anyone had their gear tested recently? We get all of ours tested as some venues insist on certificates and proof of testing and we've just had all of our gear done. Now the new test certificate states that the next test is not due for 3 years?

Am pretty sure that last time it was only valid for a year - have the rules changed?
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Re: PAT Testing

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:38 pm

No the rules haven't changed, but your tester has chosen to interpret them in an usual way. Normally, portable equipment that is subject to a lot of wear and tear would be retested every 6 months or annually. Three years seems pretty optimistic and unreasonable to me.

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Re: PAT Testing

Postby Sheriton » Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:47 pm

Hugh of course meant to say "UNusual"
The test interval isn't set in stone; it's down to the knowledge / experience of the person testing to determine what a sensible testing interval is for any particular item of equipment. A computer that sits in an office and never moves from one year to the next is a likely candidate for a three year interval. Equipment that is regularly gigged with requires more frequent testing as the risk of being damaged is that much higher.

It's not unheard of for PAT companies to suggest more frequent testing than necessary as it means more income for then but I've never heard of it the other way around. (There are also companies out there who have no clue about anything other than office equipment as that's all the one hour course they did covered...) You might want to have a quiet word with the person that did yours and find out why they think a three year interval is appropriate for that type of equipment.
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Re: PAT Testing

Postby Dave71 » Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:21 pm

Im a PAT tester and was shocked to find out what a grey area it really is. At work i test all portable devices yearly as standard with anything that kind of hard wired (PC's, AV stuff) done on a 3 year cycle. Stuff thats prone to damage more easily i test more frequently and its up to a responsible user to carry out a visual inspection before using (we have a policy in place to protect ourselves as best as we can)

Believe it or not peolpe have used dangerous items or broken stuff and said nothing. last year somebody received a minor shock form a broken item 2 weeks after its test. The case was smashed and cellotaped up. Not how i left it

Our H&S inspector is happy with that.

With my gear, i again, test everything yearly and carry out frequent visual inspections and if there is any question of possible fault, test items. Have just spent 2 days doing it talk about boring

IMO 3 years is too long for gear thats out in the open, especially power leads etc.
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Re: PAT Testing

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:36 pm

Sheriton wrote:Hugh of course meant to say "UNusual"


Actually, no, I meant unreasonable! I don't think I could stand up in a H&S hearing and justify testing that kind of equipment that infrequently.

Of course, we don't know precisely what equipment was tested, but the implication is live-sound equipment and musical equipment being schlepped between venues regularly. I don't think it is reasonable to PAT that kind of equipment used in that kind of way on a 3 year basis. I would suggest that a yearly test was a much more reasonable basis, possibly even 6 monthly if more heavily abused... but it is a grey area and open to interpretation by a comepetent PAT tester, as others have said.

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Re: PAT Testing

Postby Dave Gate » Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:48 pm

The IEEE used to publish a really good table showing different types of equipment and cables against different environments; and at each conjunction was the recommended test frequency. So, for example a touring cable that's been coild, uncoiled, used, coiled, thrown in a case, uncoiled etc. might be monthly; whereas a drinks fridge in a hotel bar might be once every three years.

It goes without saying, however, that the visual test is vital. You should always look at every cable or piece of equipment that you have, and don't use it if you feel unhappy about it.
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Re: PAT Testing

Postby pk.roberts » Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:49 am

The IET table only shows the suggested initial test period. There is a very useful article on the Spring 2011 edition of 'Wiring Matters' avilable to download here;
http://electrical.theiet.org/wiring-matters/2011.cfm
and an FAQ page on the HSE website here;
http://www.hse.gov.uk/electricity/faq-portable-appliance-testing.htm
or you can download a free book here;
http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg107.htm
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Re: PAT Testing

Postby Howdy Doody Time » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:01 pm

Brilliant free resources thanks!
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Re: PAT Testing

Postby chris... » Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:46 pm

Peeb wrote: have the rules changed?

Which particular rules ?

The local policy of some venue ?

I'm not aware of a UK law that requires PAT testing. You *are* however legally required to assess the risks and take appropriate action. You may or may not end up deciding PAT testing is the best way to accomplish this, in your situation.

http://www.hse.gov.uk/myth/july.pdf
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Re: PAT Testing

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:14 pm

Hadn't seen that poster before. I like it a lot!

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Re: PAT Testing

Postby Folderol » Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:34 pm

It's been out at least a year now. I got hold of a copy and printed it out so I could shove it under the noses of a couple of obnoxious H&S 'executives' (jumped up storemen). Worked in those situations.

However, you're on a hiding to nothing when it is an insurance requirement though. Insurance companies make up their own rules

Edit..

How odd, the copy I got didn't have that year on the bottom seems it's been out far longer than I thought!
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Re: PAT Testing

Postby Nationwidepattesting » Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:38 pm

Hi, As previous members have mentioned, the IEE guidelines state pretty clearly that things like your extension leads and portable items should be tested ideally every 6 months. There is usually a bit of leeway given on this hence it is often interpreted as being 1 year, 3 years is asking for trouble and I would question whether the company testing your stuff has just made a typo or has no clue at all what they are doing.
I find some of the most abused and dangerous elecrical appliances when carrying out tests for Bands and djs as the stuff can be old and gets a lot of wear and tear.
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Re: PAT Testing

Postby pk.roberts » Sun Apr 15, 2012 9:48 am

NO THEY DON'T. The IET guidelines only suggest the INITIAL test period, allowing for further assessments to be made on necessary periods between testing. Clearly it is in the financial interest of PAT testing companies to imply that frequent testing is required, but this may not be the case. I suggest people read the documents I linked to earlier for more authoritative (and unbiased) information.
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Re: PAT Testing

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Apr 15, 2012 9:54 am

I think hairs are being split here. The testing interval should be appropriate to the usage of the item under test and that usage pattern may well change over time. So the next test interval should be assessed on the fly. The guidelines indicate the appropriate intervals for different products and usage environments.

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Re: PAT Testing

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:26 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Sheriton wrote:Hugh of course meant to say "UNusual"


Actually, no, I meant unreasonable! I don't think I could stand up in a H&S hearing and justify testing that kind of equipment that infrequently.


Good God! Are there special H&S HEARINGS? And a special H&S police?

The legal requirement, surely, is to maintain equipment safely. Not to follow any particular "guidelines" regarding PAT testing and certification. This would imply checking hired or touring equipment after every outing (though not necessarily getting out the PAT machine and writing a label).
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Re: PAT Testing

Postby Dave Gate » Sun Apr 15, 2012 1:04 pm

The legal requirements, such as they are, would probably come under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment (1996) Regulations (PUWER for short). You could argue that Portable Appliance Testing is one way of ensuring that electrical equipment is covered under said regulations.
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Re: PAT Testing

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sun Apr 15, 2012 1:18 pm

Dave Gate wrote:The legal requirements, such as they are, would probably come under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment (1996) Regulations (PUWER for short). You could argue that Portable Appliance Testing is one way of ensuring that electrical equipment is covered under said regulations.

I fear that it's rather a way of imagining YOU are covered if your faulty equipment causes an incident. A certificate won't affect your liability.

The MOT test certificate(or whatever it's called now) firmly states that the test applies to the vehicle's condition at the time of the test ONLY, and the owner's responsibility to keep it roadworthy continues on a daily basis. Though there is no legal requirement to have a PAT certificate, the responsibility is similar, I think.

The argument is pointless,of course, if you work around jobsworths who think there's a rule to be enforced. You wouldn't mind so much if THEY were making a few pennies out of the testing!
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Re: PAT Testing

Postby dmills » Sun Apr 15, 2012 3:34 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote: This would imply checking hired or touring equipment after every outing (though not necessarily getting out the PAT machine and writing a label).

Actually PAT between hires is standard amongst most of the grown up sort of hire companies.

Certainly, Stage, AC, Whitelight all do, as do most of the major event power companies (Easiest way to minimise the on site testing for BS7909, and much better to do it at the warehouse rather then in a muddy field).

If you don't test between hires, how do you verify that the last user was not a numpty who say disconnected a safety earth to stop an RCD tripping (The hire company has a duty of care to ensure so far as possible that they supply safe equipment, and letting a fault introduced by the previous user injure the next user is incompatible with that)?

You can get bench PAT machines that read configuration from an RFID or barcode tag and give a simple ok/fault indication based upon the specific parameters for that item, testing in this context takes seconds.
The detailed visual inspection (As in open up the plugs and check the internal screws) is not usually done after every return, but is typically done every few months.

Regards, Dan.
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Re: PAT Testing

Postby planetnine » Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:35 pm

Heh sorry to be coming in late on these.

I nearly test every outing. I certainly test everything that looks like it had a bit of an "experience" while out, and I do an earth-bond test on all my long extension leads very regularly often before each packing for the summer outdoor gigs.

Don't take this the wrong way, but I'm primarily interested in reliability and my reputation, it's bad enough an XLR lead going down halfway through a gig (usu vocalist abuse or someone putting the hammond on it ), but mains gremlins can be a real show-stopper, safe or otherwise. You rarely get conductor or termination issues on mains flex without some clue on the outside, esp if you strip the ends down at least twice a year, but I hate to risk it. I have a rig to put 10A through each conductor of 16 and 32A, and I will EB test at 25A. Good safety practice is almost a result of an unrelated mainteneace and reliability regime.

Nearly every mains lead issue I've ever had, has had very obvious external symptoms drawing your attention to it, and mostly these symptoms are the only issue -insulaion grips, kinks, cuts, deformations, cracked casing, etc. More rarely: carbon deposits, arc interference, hot spots, smells, smoke, fire, explosion...



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