Usage of PAT Labels and PAT Test Labels in the Workplace

The requirement for the portable appliance test, otherwise known as PAT, began in the United Kingdom as early as the 1960’s within governmental offices and buildings. Although it was not mandated as a regulation then, it was seen as more of a responsible step to take to protect against fires and other hazards that might be caused by faulty electrical appliances.

The inspection and testing of these types of electrical devices originally fell to the Ministry of Public Works up until 1970, when this responsibility came unto the Department of Environment Services and Property Agency until the year 2000. Today, the Qualifications and Curriculum Agency oversees this service.
This testing and inspection of hand-held, plug-in, or other portable electric appliances has naturally become more necessary with the increased appearance and usage of such types of devices, not only in government facilities but in the general public as well. Depending on the potential risk of the device, the PAT is conducted in either 3 month or 6 month intervals.

When the inspection and testing is completed on a device, a PAT label is applied to indicate the passing or failure of the electrical operation of the device. PAT labels, or PAT test labels, provide an instant status report on the safety level of any device.

PAT labels will appear on a portable electric device in one of three forms. PAT test labels will read as “Passed”, “Tested for Electrical Safety”, or “Do Not Use After”, which will then give the last day of safe usage of the device. Information on PAT test labels will also include the name and ID number of the inspector, as well as his agency or department.

PAT labels were initiated as a response to concerns of fire and related hazards which would provide a modicum of inspection and reporting capability as to the safety of a device and the environment it was used in. PAT test labels actually predate the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974, as well as the Electricity at Work Act of 1990. These legislative actions were taken as accidents and concerns about safety in the workplace increased proportionately.

The current system of testing, more formally known as In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment, falls under the jurisdiction of the QCA with the voluntary but necessary participation of the Guilds and the City. The usage of PAT labels and PAT test labels is taken quite seriously, and any failure to apply or update PAT labels or PAT test labels can cause grave consequences for the responsible agency or department, especially if an accidental electrical fire should occur due to faulty operation of a device.
Therefore, the usage of PAT labels is a common practice of routine portable
electric device inspection. Considering the reason for PAT test labels, they should be seen as valuable safeguards against calamity in the workplace and should be taken quite seriously as well. Heeding such warning labels could actually save lives and property in the future.

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