I thought it would be a good idea to explain to you, our members and supporters, what we’re currently involved in; so that you can see what we’re up to and see how we’re progressing forward.
In 2013 the PAT testing Network was established with the aim of attempting to connect people operating in the PAT industry from all over the country, and then together raise standards across the network. This worked but restrictions affected growth, some of it self-inflicted, some based on opinions of others.
In late 2017 it was do or die time, so, as we could still see the potential and felt we were making progress, Tim and I, whilst sat in a Starbucks in Gateshead decided that we would attempt an informal rebrand. We both said “trade association” at the same time, and from then it was a no-brainer. A trade association would mean big changes to how we would progress in our mission.
As the “PTN” we were banging on doors that were not getting answered; we rarely got past the gatekeepers. Some saw us as just a Facebook group, but we were a lot more than that.
When we renamed ourselves a trade association, even before we had a formal brand, not only were those doors opening quicker, but they were inviting us in.
As an example of this, Tim has represented PATTA at the last three product safety conferences organised by Electrical Safety First. At the 2017 event, whilst we were trialling the association idea, he made good connections with people from the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), which is a department within government, part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). You probably know it as the Department for Trade and Industry.
Off the back of that he was invited to take part in the government’s Business Reference Panel, which means that 4 times per year Tim attends Westminster to meet with government, along with representatives from other trade associations. Here, Ministers and other organisations such as the Health and Safety Executive gather to learn about new policies, legislation and the latest thinking in government about electrical safety. The importance of PAT having a representative on this panel is huge; PAT has not been represented directly prior to PATTA.
I refer to Tim as the person that attends these meetings because it is mainly him that does; as the Operations Director my time is taken up running the business-side of the association, although I hope to have more involvement in other areas once we’re fully established, after all, doing that was why I started doing this in the first place.
At the Business Reference Panel, there have been discussions about amending the legislation around PAT testing in rented properties, especially those in social housing or high-rise buildings, after the tragic fire at Grenfell. You may have seen government documents in the news around these, and as we approach the formalising of these changes in 2020, you’ll become more aware.
There have also been discussions around us running a seminar on PAT Testing / PATTA during one of the forthcoming meetings, to explain the association to other panel members and directly to government. If/When this happens it will really help to stamp our authority about maintaining safe electrical equipment.
The department have recently launched a new Code of Practice on product recalls, PAS7100 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-guide-to-improve-consumer-product-safety-recalls–2 and we have had various meetings with people from the department about how PAT Testing (with a main focus on rental properties) could play a part in identifying products which are unsafe or subject to recall.
To help establish PATTA, Tim and I invited all PTN members to a meeting in early 2018, from which we formed a ‘steering group’ to represent our members and to help us achieve our objectives. We can’t thank the group enough for their efforts since then, which has made the rebrand a much more comfortable experience; not without its problems but they’re being ironed out and we’re now where we want to be at this stage.
As a steering group we set about rebranding the PAT Testing Network into the Portable Appliance Testing Trade Association (PATTA), launching it to existing members in the September of that year
When we launched in the September, until the end of the year we had a 90% take up of existing members agreeing to move over to the new association, and from there we have had many new people join us – we now have an active membership of 71 individuals which we’re delighted with. To think 71 businesses, want the same from their industry as we do, and are there to support us. It also shows that people feel strongly enough about the need for representation to sign up. It shows us that what we are doing is appreciated and worthwhile.
A trade association relies on its members; PATTA encourages collaboration and networking between its members; by sharing best practices our members can learn from each other which can only be good. Members can chat online through our Facebook group, face to face at our meet ups and can utilise the website directory to find others in their area, or elsewhere if they need to sub-contract, for example.
Tim has done a lot of travelling on PATTA’s behalf, racking up the car, train and air-miles, all over Europe, at his own personal expense. Make no mistake the money PATTA makes doesn’t cover most of the costs we incur, personally; we are investing not just time but our own money on this project. That’s one of the reasons why we ask you to pay to be a member of our association – to cover the general business costs, so we don’t have to pay for that too. Every time we attend a meeting, write an article, update the website or do some admin, that’s time we’re not earning money in our own businesses; this goes for all members of the steering group, so we thank you for joining us and for paying a fee to help; we do appreciate it.
Our first big break was all the way back in 2015, when we were still the PAT Testing Network. Tim connected with the IET staff at the Elex show, which led to him attending the launch of their Code of Practice for Electrical Safety Management – networking with other departments and association is a big part of what we have to do; making new connections and developing contacts are often slow burners but very worthwhile, much like when attending your own local networking groups or our member meet ups. Many of us are friends and colleagues because we’ve been making the effort to meet each other annually at our events.
The biggest opportunity so far (arguably) that presented itself to us was when in late 2018, PATTA was invited to participate on the IET panel updating our industry’s Code of Practice. Since then Tim, representing us, has attended many meetings and made our feelings clearly felt. We’ve been actively involved in the authorship of the new Code. This is giving us a great opportunity to promote the PAT testing industry, and the benefits of improving standards in electrical safety centred around appliances. At the time of writing, the new Code is out for public discussion and PATTA members are of course able to make formal representations through us directly to the IET, or can comment in a personal capacity if they prefer.
In addition to working with the IET we have had several informal discussions with City & Guilds about the 2377 qualification to get a meaningful qualification in PAT Testing. This is some way off probably, unlikely to change until the new Code of Practice is released at the earliest, although we will be talking to them again soon.
I, and the whole committee appreciate your support and patience in setting up this Trade Association that we hope will ultimately improve the whole industry for us all. Having you as a member means a lot to us and the more, we can increase our membership numbers, the further we can take PATTA to improve the industry.
If you would like to discuss any issues with us; or discuss any aspect of membership, then please feel free to reach out to us.