I’ve had bad experience with PAT testing companies in the past – a service of dubious merit often run on disingenuous lines because people believe something terrible will happen if they don’t have a bi-annual test (or annual if they can be persuaded there’s some law or other stating they need to). Still, if it makes the punters happy why should I deprive them of portable appliance testing companies of a living.
But, PAT testers can damage kit. They don’t do it often but once is too much, and their automated boxes and tick sheets are banned hereabouts – replaced with a proper inspection and assessment of all aspects of electrical and mechanical safety, not just earth leakage.
Unfortunately one site we look after had a visit from a PAT tester in December. Then, this month they had a power cut, and all their PCs went blank in spite of maintained UPS units, which had all been serviced in November. My heart sank when I saw the green label of a PAT tester on our UPS units – had they blown up all the inverters or what?
The batteries tested okay, both in the units and on the bench when I opened one to check. Then the penny dropped: The idiots had plugged the PCs in to any old socket on the back of the unit. Some of the sockets are surge-protected, some are maintained (battery backed). They’d just reconnected the cables by starting at the bottom and working up, so it was pure chance as to whether the PCs were on a maintained socket or not – in fact most weren’t.
Do I blame these “fully trained” PAT testing operatives? Well no – they haven’t got much concept of what they’re actually doing and the training consists of plugging something in, pressing a button, and checking to see whether the red or green light comes up. (Some may be competent electrical engineers, but its certainly not a requirement). But please keep them away from me and my equipment.