Spotting Counterfeit Goods with PAT Testing
Portable Appliance Testing or PAT testing is a procedure that is carried out to verify the safety of electrical appliances through various electronic tests and visual inspections. Regardless of whether it’s in a home, school, office or home office, electrical safety tests help to identify faulty or counterfeit goods.
According to Electrical Safety First, the growth in demand for counterfeit electrical products in the UK is becoming increasingly accessible on the internet, online marketplaces, social media and dedicated websites.
As these fake sites look more and more genuine, the likelihood of counterfeit products being bought increases. This is why it’s important to acknowledge how this affects our safety and the importance of carrying out an electrical safety test.
In this guide, we’ve narrowed down the factors to help you protect yourself from fake goods and what to do if you have them.
Who Can Do Electrical PAT Testing?
By law, PAT testing must be carried out by a competent person – you have the option of obtaining a PAT testing qualification by completing a course or if it’s easier, employing a qualified safety engineer to carry out the electrical safety test for you. The IEE Code of Practice identifies a competent person as having:
- Knowledge of precautions required to avoid the occurrence of potential hazards
- Accurate perception of the hazards that could arise regarding the equipment
- Appropriate electrical knowledge
- The capability to perceive whether or not it is safe for work to continue
- Sufficient experience in electrical work
- An adequate understanding of the system
- Practical experience in that class system
The Wave of Counterfeit Information
There is a trend amongst fraudulent manufacturers and sellers whereby a great deal of effort is put into product advertisement, but the products themselves have substandard efficacy. Whether with articles or product pages, these counterfeit products are getting more indistinguishable from genuine products.
As this happens, more buyers are lacking the knowledge to distinguish between counterfeit and genuine products. This is why an electrical safety test is imperative to identify the risk of what we buy and especially with products we buy online.
It is estimated that 92% of Brits believe that e-commerce platforms are monitored and regulated by third-party sellers to protect them against faulty products, but this isn’t the case. More often than not, fake electrical products don’t receive the same meticulous safety checks compared to legitimate goods. These inadequacies pose genuine safety risks and in many cases, have caused serious accidents, such as electric shocks, severe burning and even death.
Why is PAT Testing Important?
PAT testing measures a product’s earth continuity, lead polarity and insulation resistance. That’s why when you test a counterfeit good to the same stringent battery of tests, you can find out if it is safe to use – if the product gives out before reaching the published limits, then it is fake.
PAT testing measures the functional and parametric requirements at extreme levels. Tests are carried out on the direct current and the alternate current, as well as the functional performance of the product. The limits of the parameters measured in the tests are what tells the buyer if the item is safe and the extent to which the product can be pushed without expiring.
What To Do If You Suspect A Counterfeit Good
If you have found that the product you’re using is fake, or could be fake, the best thing to do is stop using it immediately. It may be worth first contacting the seller to request a refund. You may also want to report it to Trading Standards so that they can take action against the seller since they are putting people at risk.
How Can You Stay Safe From Fake Goods?
Buying a product from a reliable seller is the first step to take in order to avoid buying a product that doesn’t comply with UK Safety Standards. In a lot of cases, you should be looking out for these visible signs to identify an authentic product:
The British Standard Institution or BSI Kitemark is an exclusive identification and is recognised internationally.
CE marking is a requirement for electronic goods if they are sold within the EU or member states of the EEA. The image on the right represents Chinese manufacturers replicating this symbol on substandard products.
To conclude, it is important to periodically PAT test your equipment to prevent injuries and outline the hazards in your facilities. PAT testing is the most reliable form of an electrical safety test to spot counterfeit goods.
Let UK Safety Management Help You Meet Your Work Regulations
At UK Safety Management, we offer our expert PAT testing services to help you meet electricity at work regulations and reduce insurance premiums. You can get a quote here or if you have any other questions related to electrical safety testing you can make an inquiry.
If you want to find out more about EICR testing, you can check out our other post which outlines who is responsible for carrying out an EICR test.