What is PAT Testing?

Portable appliance testing (PAT) is the term used to describe the examination of electrical appliances and equipment to ensure they are safe to use. Most electrical safety defects can be found by visual examination but some types of defect can only be found by testing. However, it is essential to understand that visual examination is an essential part of the process because some types of electrical safety defect can't be detected by testing alone. 

A relatively brief user check (based upon simple training and perhaps assisted by the use of a brief checklist) can be a very useful part of any electrical maintenance regime. However, more formal visual inspection and testing by a competent person may also be required at appropriate intervals, depending upon the type of equipment and the environment in which it is used

Is it a Legal Requirement?

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 require that any electrical quipment that has the potential to cause injury is maintained in a safe condition. The Regulations do not specify what needs to be done, by whom, or how frequently.

How Frequently do I need to Test my Applainces?

The Frequency of Inspection and Testing depends upon the type of equipment it is used for and the environment it is in. For Example, a power tool used on a Building Site should be examined more frequently than a lamp in a hotel bedroom. For Guidence on this, see publication: Maintaining portable and transportable electrical equipment.

Do I keep Records and Label my Appliances?

Again, there is no legal requirement to label or keep records. It can be useful to do so in order to show a scheme is in place and demonstrates the safety or defects with any appliances in use.


Do I test new equipment?

All new equipment should be supplied in a safe condition although a visual inspection is recommended to verify no faults or defects exist with the new item.

Do I need an Electrician to carry the Tests?

The person carrying out the testing needs to be competent to do so. In many low risk environments, a sensible (competent) member of staff can undertake visual inpections if they have enough combined training and knowledge. When undetaking combined Inspection and Testing, a greater level of knowledge and experience is required, this person will need:


- the right equipment

- the ability to use this equipment to test appliances properly 

- the ability to properly understand the test results and log all findings

Is PAT Testing Compulsory?

No, the Law simply requires an Employer to ensure their electrical equipment is maintained in order to prevent danger. It does not state how this should be done or how often. It is at the Employers discretion to decide what needs testing due to the amount of use and the environment in which it is being used. 

For more information see hse.gov.uk


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