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General Chat Thread, PAT Testing. Who's job is it? in General; We, (the IT Dept) have just been informed that it is our responsibility to carry out PAT Testing. A few ...
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    PAT Testing. Who's job is it?

    We, (the IT Dept) have just been informed that it is our responsibility to carry out PAT Testing.

    A few facts:
    There are 4000+ (estimate) items to be tested.
    We haven't the time.
    We haven't had (nor desire) any training.
    There is no mention of extra pay for this job.

    A few questions:
    What has the testing of kettles/microscopes/TVs etc got to do with the IT Dept?
    If an electrical item fails after testing, who is responsible?

    In the past PAT testing has been carried out by an external agency but in the current economic climate I guess that our school is on a money-saving excercise.
    When the outside agency did the testing they required that all testable items be laid out in an easy to access manner and were listed.
    However, I gather that this would not now go down well with all departments and the smooth running of the school; therefore I forsee that the job would entail crawling around under desks and benches etc.
    I have heard on the grapevine that it is bad practice for testing to be carried out internally since it's too easy to cheat and simply apply stickers without testing.

    Has any thoughts and/or advice on this?

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    soveryapt's Avatar
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    Well, doing a quick Google shows that there isn't a legal requirement for qualifications, but the person doing it must be able to demonstrate a good knowledge of the PAT Testing requirements, etc, but there is a recommendation that people attend a course if only for the different categories that a piece of equipment can fall into, and therefore present different legal requirements for the testing that it requires.

    Personally, I'm looking to do a PAT testing course, either personally or through work, so that I'm able to test new IT kit that comes in, or kit that I need to replace parts on and ensure that I'm not going to fry anyone, and this is possibly something to consider, but as for the whole school, I guess that's a discussion to be had with your SLT and point out that you don't have a full understanding of the different PAT requirements for different categories of kit etc?

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    nephilim's Avatar
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    i am the schools PAT tester here, purely for the fact that I undercut everyone else. I charge the school 65p per item, as well as 50 per day on top (takes 2-3 days depending on how accessable some equipment is), which still ends up MUCH cheaper than everyone else locally.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SUSIT View Post
    We, (the IT Dept) have just been informed that it is our responsibility to carry out PAT Testing.

    A few facts:
    There are 4000+ (estimate) items to be tested.
    We haven't the time.
    We haven't had (nor desire) any training.
    Well, you'll need it. If you're going to be responsible for a safety measure, you should be fully trained in it. Anything else is just dangerous.

    What has the testing of kettles/microscopes/TVs etc got to do with the IT Dept?
    Zero. Whether it counts as "other duties as required by the head from time to time" is another matter, talk to your union about this.

    If an electrical item fails after testing, who is responsible?
    The tester has a responsibility to make the school aware and clearly mark the item as such, and the school is responsible for ensuring it is removed from service, IMO*.

    In the past PAT testing has been carried out by an external agency but in the current economic climate I guess that our school is on a money-saving excercise.
    When the outside agency did the testing they required that all testable items be laid out in an easy to access manner and were listed.
    However, I gather that this would not now go down well with all departments and the smooth running of the school; therefore I forsee that the job would entail crawling around under desks and benches etc.
    The company we used to use (but now do it in house) had no problem, we just opened up the rooms and told them what needed doing and they got on with it. Your mileage will vary with different people.

    I have heard on the grapevine that it is bad practice for testing to be carried out internally since it's too easy to cheat and simply apply stickers without testing.
    It's accepted to be bad practice to employ monkeys, certainly. A contractor can also cheat and apply stickers without testing if you're not watching them do it...



    *not legal advice nor should be taken as such.

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    Andrew_C's Avatar
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    You ARE ALREADY responsible for electrical safety. You put kit into service? You ensure it is safe first don't you? You can not avoid it; ALL users have responsibilities.

    As to what is more commonly considered in these cases, PAT training is neither onerous, or expensive. C&G is about 180, for one/two day training and test. Open book multi guess exam.

    Anything you find that is faulty should be "removed from service" and "clearly marked", then inform your management (probably a printout of "Fail" results would be best. Don't cut the plug off, unless that is the instruction from who ever is managing the scheme.

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    Hightower's Avatar
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    I was PAT Test trained a few years back at my previous school. It was brought in as a cost cutting exercise, and I absolutely hated it. We didn't have any time to do it and SMT eventually realised this and hired an external tester again. I only did one lot of testing before it was scrapped, and luckily we didn't have a single item fail. If one had though I think I would have cut the plug off, but maybe not for the right reasons

    Check your contract and see what it says in there. If you are not down as doing PAT testing I would say this would be negotiable on your pay, as to me it is not 'any other jobs the head asks of you' - it's far too big for an 'any other job'.

    To me PAT testing is an electrical job rather than an ICT job. People think ICT and electrical work is related but if someone asked me to change a wall socket or rewire a spur I'd tell them to go jump. Likewise, I'd tell them to go jump now if they asked me to do PAT testing (wish I had the sack to do it all those years ago too).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew_C View Post
    You ARE ALREADY responsible for electrical safety. You put kit into service? You ensure it is safe first don't you? You can not avoid it; ALL users have responsibilities.
    Well, I think you misunderstand. As an IT Dept we certainly did put PCs, printers and data projectors into service and we insured they were safe. However, no way did we put kettles, power tools, TVs, CCTV cameras etc. into servivce.

    The problems our IT Dept suffers from (as I'm sure others do) is that if an item bears even the slightest connection with computers (ie. plugs into a mains socket) then it's deemed our responsibility.
    It's a little like expecting our languages teacher, who teaches Spanish and French, to be expected to teach Chinese, Welsh and any other known language as well.

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    Andrew_C's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SUSIT View Post
    we insured they were safe. However, no way did we put kettles, power tools, TVs, CCTV cameras etc. into servivce.
    Manglement could well argue that if you are competent to ensure that the IT kit was safe, then you are competent to do the rest.

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    Butuz's Avatar
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    PAT testing is a site/premises management issue not an IT / ICT issue.

    Simples.

    Butuz

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    When you put in NEW kit, it does NOT require PAT testing. equipment that has been supplied by a manufacturer is deemed as working on delivery. If it isn't, it's a manufacturing fault and not the schools. Once equipment is "In use" it is no longer "New" and therfore will need testing each year. So that new boxed Dell PC you just bought doesn't need testing till the next cycle, be it in 11 months time, or 3 months time.

    Obviously, when putting in equipment of any sort, a visual inspection of the kit should be done regardless of age, or time since it was pat tested. A PAT tester could have tested a bit of kit, then it was knocked off a shelf the following day.

    Overall, the whole process is a little bit of a joke, because of the above problem. In 8 years, I've had just ONE item fail a PAT test due to internal faults. I've had dozens fail however due to damaged mains cables, or casing.
    And since I used to work in a repair centre, where 20-30 items would go through at least per day, with some 10-15,000 kettle leads between the store stock and the repair shop, i think that's pretty good odds

    The chances of that computer's internals doing something funky that will cause a power failure are low (compared to, from my experience the number of machines that get KILLED by PAT testing. They don't like being shut on/off or have funny voltages go through them to test resistance). The chances that some muppet has trapped the powercable and bared the wires against the metal table-leg however are rather higher!

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    When I did my PAT testing course I could have sworn (going from memory so could easily be wrong) that external cables (kettle leads) need testing every year, but machines that have no external cables (as in PC's) only need testing every 4 years in education.

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    I think I need another refresher course on appliance testing. Preferably before the holiday period, as that's the only opportunity I get to do it. It's out of the question to do it during term time, and even smaller breaks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rydra View Post
    When you put in NEW kit, it does NOT require PAT testing.
    Here we go again... How do you "ensure the equipment is safe" if you don't test it? Are you relying on someone else's "batch test"?

    There are currently in circulation CE marked mains leads from China that do not have fuses in them, and others with the polarity reversed. A proper inspection & test would find this fault, but relying on the mfrs won't.
    Last edited by Andrew_C; 16th June 2010 at 12:25 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Butuz View Post
    PAT testing is a site/premises management issue not an IT / ICT issue.

    Simples.

    Butuz
    Agreed

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew_C View Post
    Here we go again... How do you "ensure the equipment is safe" if you don't test it? Are you relying on someone else's "batch test"?

    There are currently in circulation CE marked mains leads from China that do not have fuses in them, and others with the polarity reversed. A proper inspection & test would find this fault, but relying on the mfrs won't.
    Do you buy a new car, and immediately go and put it in for an MOT? A visual inspection should be enough, because anything else you should know what your buying. If you don't trust the kit you've bought, and believe it's going to blow up when you plug it in, then you shouldn't have bought it in the first place.
    Lets face it, none of us are going to go to argos and buy a new kettle or iron, and immediately ring up your nearest electrician to have it fully tested. But if you take the kettle out and see the mains cable has been eaten by a rat, and has mould growing on the plug, you should have the sense not to plug it in, and contact the manufacturer and/or retailer that sold you the item.

    Same thing applies if you buy a new computer for home use, wheither it be a home build, or from Dell. Otherwise we'd all have to be qualified electricians, and probably electrical engineers to do our jobs.
    I've just bought 6 new laptops for staff, I have no intention of phoning the PAT tester and getting him in to test my equipment.

    If your the one doing it, and have a procedure of rolling testing then sure it can't hurt to do it. But there is no REQUIREMENT to test brand new equipment. Don't make work for yourself and extra cost for your school.

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