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Clarification on PAT labeling

One of the most discussed areas of the new fourth edition of the IET Code of Practice is its revised guidance on appliance labelling.

The Code now recommends that the date for re-testing should not be marked on the pass label usually attached to appliances after testing. This is a pretty clear statement and aims to stop contractors automatically determining the retest period when the label is applied immediately after inspection and testing.

Nevertheless, in some discussion groups this appears to have triggered considerable debate and some confusion. However this advice needs to be seen in the wider context of the overall theme of the new guidance, which is to clarify the role of duty holders and to emphasise the importance of risk assessment.

The advice from IET and HSE has always been that any test and inspection regime should be based on risk, the reality is that in many cases this has not been the case and the suggested initial test frequencies in the Code of Practice have become standard and have been applied regardless of risk.

Although the new Code says duty holders can take advice from the person doing the inspection and testing, it is they who have the legal responsibility to ensure that the electrical equipment in their charge is safe and it is their responsibility to decide whether or not to vary the inspection and test frequencies.

This is clearly the motive behind the new guidance on labelling. It is of course a significant change to existing practices and without a visual reminder of any next test due dates there is likely to be increased reliance on the effective use of electrical equipment inspection and test records, with the Code also recommending that (previous) test results should be made available to subsequent test operatives. In addition, rather than relying on pre-determined re-test dates, there will also be increased emphasis on the effective visual inspection of appliances.

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