“PATTA” is raising standards through representing the industry; supporting and guiding members
The Portable Appliance Testing Trade Association is the trading name of a group of people who are trying to improve the “PAT testing” industry by representing it at important meetings.
All the way back in 2013 two people got together and talked about the issues affecting the industry;
- Such as how the training wasn’t right, and there wasn’t enough of it – new entrants to the industry could do a course online for an hour, or a 2-day City and Guilds course with exam, but at the end of either have very little knowledge, no experience yet could still start a business and serve paying customers.
- How that C&G exam was open book, taking away the need for entrants to really learn – people had a qualification and didn’t even have the knowledge; they just knew how to use a book (ed.. our trainer taught me how to use the index in the COP to our advantage when doing the exam, so we passed)
- How there was no ongoing training or refresher courses; a training course like C&G teaches the basics but we are expected to learn ourselves all about electrical safety, 110v, 3-phase, etc – there are no courses for it.
Even now, with the introduction of fixed appliance testing being part of our role, there are no PAT specific training courses showing how to test fixed appliances.
In this industry, like many others there are cowboys, how could they be controlled? We didn’t know.. but there are also companies driving prices down when there is no need to. There are the so-called sticker jockeys; there’s different forms and some people work hard and fast and still do a good job, but there are some who cut corners and race against the clock to slap as many stickers on as possible, totally disregarding safety.
PAT shouldn’t be about how many items can be tested in a day, but about making sure all electrical appliances are safe and those that are not, are either fixed or removed from service. That’s the importance of PAT – some electrical equipment is in use today and is very dangerous; if PAT testers were allowed the time to do their job properly they could reduce the dangers and in turn reduce the risk to users, making workplaces a safer place; but while there are companies driving down the prices offering silly cheap PAT testing prices, and customers expecting it, it’s always going to be an uphill battle to change.
We also looked out how the industry is looked down on by the electricians of this world, how we were perceived as unimportant, and unprofessional – we’ve all seen electricians doing PAT; some are great but some struggle just as a new entrant would. I had 3 council electricians on my 2377 course and they all failed it. “I employed an electrician once to do testing with me; he didn’t know how to fault find when an appliance failed, and I discovered then that he didn’t check fuses! But then I also know some excellent electricians who do a brilliant job.”
Portable Appliance Testing Trade Association
PATTA provides support and connects people
We are aware of the lack of support; take away online groups and there is nearly nothing. Before the Internet came along we had to call local peers for advice, some of us still do, but most turn to forums or social media groups, and usually get shot down at the mere mention of a query or contentious subject – there are a lot of keyboard warriors out there.
PATTA has its own members’ only exclusive Facebook group which works well; as its all members users are more professional and members are encouraged to ask questions if they have problems; most of the time they get good answers. But it’s apparent there is a lack of clear training from the mixed answers – if training was more controlled, the answers would be similar. It’s from discussions on this group that we get content for our work.
There are some people in the PAT testing industry, who through no fault of their own are really struggling – they don’t have the skills, experience and knowledge, but that’s not necessarily their fault as there is no-where to go to improve it – most people are self taught, so a PAT tester has to be very self motivated.
Plus, most PAT testers are running their own businesses, so have that to deal with too; to be a success they need to juggle learning all about electrical safety with building a strong business. Those not running their business are employed, usually on low wages, or peace rate, and need to test hundreds of items every day to make a basic living.
The best way to raise standards in an industry is to connect that industry; you may be in competition with your neighbour, but why not be friends too, maybe even help each other out so you can take on bigger projects. The PAT industry is broken in to 2 clear sides – the small business predominantly made up of one man bands doing smaller jobs trying to make a living, and larger companies taking up all the big jobs – those smaller companies need somewhere to talk, they need to be able to help and guide each other.
The associations’ Facebook group is the perfect place to do this; a quick dip in and out on your smart phone is enough to see what’s going on and ask questions when you have an issue. PATTA also offers the opportunity to network face to face with an annual meet-up which takes place at a central location on the last Friday in September every year.
You can find a portable appliance testing company to do your PAT testing on our UK PAT testers directory.
PATTA is encouraging change
PATTA wants to make a difference, it wants to encourage change across the industry, but it is not going to happen overnight. We don’t expect to make all our changes in the next year or two, it may take ten or more, but we are committed to creating a safer working environment for our customers and better resources for our industry.
Our industry is electrical testing; whether we’re PAT testers or electricians we should be working together, to improve it for all of us. The E5 group are doing their bit for the electrical industry, and in the past BAPAT tried to do it for PAT. The PTN had a go too; the PAT Testing Network was our initial attempt; it didn’t really work, but PATTA is making good ground now.
The industry as a whole, especially the small businesses, are not represented. The bigger companies of the industry have their people on boards and attending industry meetings but the smaller companies had no-one, and generally are ignored. We wanted to change that.
Portable Appliance Testing Trade Association
As the Portable Appliance Testing Trade Association we were able to; becoming a trade association opened doors for us. Our representative, Tim, has worked tirelessly, off his own back, at his own personal expense mainly, to attend meetings all over the UK, many of them with the IET and Government departments, British Standards, the Department for Trade and industry, etc. Representing the industry, what it wants, and who it is. Now the small businesses; those that care about their customers and know the value of what we do, have a voice, and it is respected. We are often called upon to give our view on contentious subjects, and we have been a major influencer in the production of the new (for 2020 release) Code of Practice for inspection and testing.
It’s important you know that PATTA isn’t a wage-paying business; we are all volunteers operating in our spare time, and giving up our valuable time (and paying for ourselves mostly) because we feel the role we are doing is important and necessary. If you feel you can help, please contact us and offer it. We rely on people becoming members to give us some funds to cover business costs, and by paying a small annual subscription you are not only showing you support us but it means that people that do become members see the importance of standards in their work.
What PATTA is not
A lot of people seem to think PATTA is trying to regulate the industry; it’s not. The industry is a long way off being regulated – a lot of changes need to be made first. It is our intention to facilitate change, to make the industry better and our customers safer.
PATTA is also not an accreditor – it doesn’t need to be. We don’t need to check our members are at a particular standard, because there are no specific entry level standards in the industry now anyway. We want to encourage people to reach a certain standard, of course we do; we have standards ourselves, but we do not need to check credentials. We ask new members what training they have had to build a picture, and we make sure trading members have insurance, but that is where our checks end. Members are joining to support what we do.
PATTA is what it is; a group of people representing the industry when decisions are being made that affect the industry’s future.
How do you get involved?
Having standards in our work is important, and without them we’ll not be able to make these improvements; we have our Working Standards are we expect all members to work within their parameters.
When you do join up your joining the cause; you’re supporting what we are doing. As a thank you we give you access to our members group, and allow you to use our logo to show you have standards. We also are able to offer you discounts off labels, software, equipment and calibration through our associate members’ offers.
Joining PATTA costs you just £55.00 a year; paid for through PayPal you pay to join, then pay an annual subscription from there on. If you run a business, we’ll add your business contact details with a link to your website on our members directory. We also have meet ups throughout the year if you want to come along to meet us and fellow members.