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A typical PAT Test Office Scenario

Sadly it would appear that just about anyone can get a C&G qualification in PAT testing as most courses are of one or two days duration and often purport to offer such training to those with no previous electrical knowledge. This may be acceptable for the original purpose PAT testing was designed for (regular inspection and testing of equipment used in the workplace) but the way in which it has been adopted for electrical testing of refurbishing and reuse of more complex appliances may not make it fit for purpose.

Surely the best way forward would be to develop a specific set of procedures and protocols for the recycling/ReUse sectors to ensure that anomalies such as those highlighted in this article (and others) can be eliminated.  This is what EEESafe is proposing with it’s Standard.

Firstly PAT testing procedures currently in use were not primarily designed for the specific purpose of verifying electrical safety of reconditioned/refurbished appliances. The PAT testing procedures, guidance and resulting ‘non mandatory’ ‘qualification’ target was for electrical appliances used in the work place.

Instead of developing a testing procedure specifically for the reconditioned/refurbished sector it was deemed by others less aware that the existing PAT test procedure above should be implemented so as to indicate a reconditioned/refurbished appliance was electrically fit for resale. EEESafe has been designed to facilitate the gap between Electrical Reuse standards and an item formerly designated as waste.  Also to increase home safety and give consumers the prospect of a longer lasting repair by someone independently assessed as having more knowledge in white goods appliances, than someone more genuinely interested in raising funds but not completing full safety of a reused item entering a home again.

EEESafePATLabelPAT testing requires an operative only to be ‘competent’ in the PAT testing procedures. This can be self taught by studying the IET guidance procedures or attending a training seminar where upon a ‘recognised’ certificate of qualification (2377) is issued. Unfortunately such courses are often of one day duration regardless of any pre-existing knowledge or not and an open book written assessment is often carried out to verify competence. This is an area of concern in itself as the simple ability to follow guidance procedures is not a demonstration of the individuals depth of technical knowledge. It omits the practical understanding of the various types of equipment needed to safely and effectively carry out such testing and just as importantly, know when testing should not be carried out.  Consumer Safety is not at the heart of such testers, nor we would question, at the heart of those offering such an easily earned certificate.

Regulators would do well to consider if they believe the plethora of one day PAT training courses can provide the required depth of knowledge and practical skills when it comes to testing more complex appliances.  EEESafe as a White Goods Regulator, wouldn’t accept applications to become Registered EEESafe Repairers, without full evidence of what practical assessment was delivered and remains cautious about the many one day courses, and online teaching certificates available.

Many in the Recycling sector choose to employ/use ‘qualified electricians’ that have gained a PAT Test certification/qualification. However, although electricians will have had to demonstrate extensive technical knowledge and understanding with practical experience of electrical installations, such knowledge rarely if ever covers the internal workings of electrical appliances themselves. As can be seen from the simple scenario’s within this article relating to appliance construction and function a key factor is ensuring that safety testing is not just skin deep.  It has been found over many years of training in White Goods Repairs, that it was a common theme to find that an Electricians knowledge was extremely basic, which is understandable as their qualification does not have any appliance-related content or assessment. 

Editors Note – Only an EEESafe Registered DAT or DAR, are required to submit safety readings when finishing a repair, or installing a Large Refurbished Kitchen Appliance.