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 on simple training and perhaps assisted by use of a 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 PAT testing compulsory?
No, however, the law does require employers to ensure that their electrical equipment is maintained in order to prevent danger.
Employers should take a risk-based approach, considering the type of equipment and what it is being used for and where it is being used. If it is used regularly and moved a lot e.g. a floor cleaner or a kettle, testing and with visual checks can be an important part of an effective maintenance regime, giving employers confidence that they are doing what is necessary to help them meet their legal duties.
Testing frequency and testing new appliances
The frequency of inspection and testing depends upon the type of equipment and the environment it is used in. For example, a power tool used on a construction site should be examined more frequently than a lamp in a hotel room.
Must my portable electrical appliances be tested every year?
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 requires that any electrical equipment that has the potential to cause injury be maintained in a safe condition. However, the regulations do not specify testing and inspecting is undertaken annually.
Do I need to test new equipment?
New equipment should be supplied in a safe condition and not require a formal portable appliance inspection or test. However, a simple visual check is recommended to verify the item is not damaged.