UK Portable Appliance Testing industry is in a sorry state

by admin on June 8, 2010

The last 5 years has seen an epidemic of cheap prices flooding the market in portable appliance testing. At first sight this may seem welcome for the many companies using this service in compliance with Health & Safety legislation. However, it is also the case that the relevant and important visual checks, as set out in the IEE Code of Practice, are often being ignored on a large scale by companies who are keen on making a fast buck. Quite often the engineers on site are not to blame, as they are forced into racing around the workplace doing as many tests as they can in a day, simply to earn an average wage. High pressure is often put on them as they receive such a low rate per unit, and then have to pay their own petrol and expenses.This is no excuse in itself for poor quality, it just  means that “cut price” = “cut corners.” This is all very well, but dangerous appliances which should be found in the workplace and removed, are still remaining in place after the test, which makes the test in itself completely pointless. This is very dangerous and could ultimately cost lives.

The onus is now on company procurers of the service, and facilities managers, to make wise choices when appointing companies to carry out PAT testing work, as the main electrical bodies involved, ECA, Napit and NIC, appear reluctant to stamp out the problem. Membership to these bodies does not guarantee good work necessarily, and there is too much emphasis on a “price per item” mentality in the industry as a whole. Users of the service who go for the cheapest price should not expect a high standard of work, as although correct paperwork and certification will be produced, it is unlikely that much in the way of visual inspection takes place.

Health & Safety employees and managers should be concerned with how the tests are being carried out, and at what speed, rather than simply looking at a unit price;  but of course ultimately a balance must be achieved between quality of workmanship and value for money, and this is vital for a successful test.




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