WNCBC’s PAT Service is currently suspended until September 2021 given the risk to both hall committees and the PAT volunteers themselves (some in all groups are likely to be in the ‘at risk’ category). Testing will resume when we are satisfied that there is minimal risk to everyone involved in continuing the service.
ACRE guidance for reopening Village Halls, which was issued before the latest lockdown restrictions were enforced in January 2021, stated that there would be a requirement for Risk Assessments by both users and testers before access to halls could be granted and that should anyone entering the hall be exposed to the virus, it would be the case that hall management committees would be liable. If the current plan for relaxation of the rules remains on track, limited access to halls will be allowed from 17th May 2021 and full access will be allowed on 21st June. Until that time, we need to make sure that our volunteers, as well as the hall committees, are protected.
A number of halls have contacted us because they are concerned about having a year’s gap (or two years for some halls, depending o where they are in the general PAT schedule) in the testing process, but in reality it is a myth that all portable electrical appliances in a ‘low-risk’ environment (e.g. offices and village halls, etc.) legally need to have a portable appliance test (PAT) every year. The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 require that any electrical equipment that has the potential to cause injury is maintained in a safe condition (in order to prevent danger). The Regulations, however, do not specify what needs to be done, by whom or how frequently (they don’t make inspection or testing of electrical appliances a legal requirement, nor do they make it a legal requirement to undertake this annually). However, that said, it is both sensible and good practice to have your equipment tested every year to make sure safety standards are as good as they can be and that any risk to the hall and to its users is minimised.
The real issue comes in terms of queries you may receive from your insurers – some of whom prefer testing to be carried out annually. Should you have any questions from your insurers, all you should need to state is that your usual annual testing has been delayed as a result of restrictions due to COVID and will be carried out when it is permissible to do so (and that you expect this to take place when the process is genuinely safe for all concerned). Your insurers will probably need to know the date that the equipment was previously tested (you can find that information on the relevant ‘Completed Testing’ pages on this website) that you maintain records/certificates, that you confirm that any delay is purely due to restraints caused by the Covid-19 situation, and that you will inform them as soon as the latest test has been carried out (should they require you to do so).
There is a publication from the government that sets out all the conditions/legal requirements in the link below:
https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg236.pdf (Maintaining Portable Electric Equipment in Low Risk Environments)
In the meantime, please email Sarah if you have any queries.