PAT testing can prove vital in keeping staff and customers safe. But what exactly does it entail, what are your legal obligations and how often should it be done?
What is PAT testing?
PAT stands for ‘portable appliance testing’. It refers to the checks carried out on electrical appliances to make sure they’re safe.
While many of us will be able to spot possible electrical dangers – frayed wires, loose plugs, exposed wires – some faults can only be found through testing.
Are PAT inspections a legal requirement?
PAT is not a legal requirement but if you’re an employer or run a business, you do have a legal duty to ensure electrical equipment is safe and well maintained.
The law doesn’t specify what kind of tests need to be done to ensure appliances are safe. There are also no rules about who should test electrical equipment or how often.
There are, however, a set of regulations that employers and businesses must meet – these can be found in:
- Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
- The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
- The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
Businesses that don’t comply with regulations can be fined up to £5,000 and in some cases, employers and business owners could even face imprisonment.
You might also find that you need to regularly test appliances as a condition of your business insurance policy.
So, although PAT checks themselves are not needed by law, regular inspections are a simple, quick and effective way to be certain that electricals are safe and that you’re meeting regulations.
Do I need to keep records of PAT inspections?
As PAT is not a legal duty, you don’t need to keep any official records but keeping details is good practise.
Keeping records also means you’ve got proof that you’re complying with safety regulations and could also come in handy if you’re ever asked by your insurer.
What items need PAT testing?
You should test any items that plug in to a wall socket (or generator) – most of these appliances will fall into either Class I or Class II:
- Class I appliances have basic insulation and have an earth connection, examples include, kettles, microwaves, fridges and toasters.
- Class II appliances are double insulated and don’t have an earth connection, items include computers, photocopiers, TVs, power tools and lamps.
How often do I need to PAT check?
There are no strict rules about when or how often appliances need to be tested. The general rule is that the more something is used, the more frequently it should be checked.
For example, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommend that:
- Class I appliances should be tested about every 12 months.
- Class II appliances should be checked every two to four years but items used regularly should be tested every 12 months.
- Appliances or tools that are hired out should be checked before they are taken away by customers.
A full list of recommendations can be found at HSE, maintaining portable electrical equipment.
How can I make sure my electrical equipment is safe?
According to the HSE, visual checks can be carried out by anyone ‘competent’. For more robust safety checks (and greater peace of mind) the HSE recommend that tests be carried out by someone with more in-depth knowledge and the right tools for the job.
Most importantly, testing should be done by someone who understands and can offer guidance on the outcome of any test results – which is something we can help you with.
At Barton Electrical we’ll ensure any equipment, tools and appliances you have are safe and comply with regulations. We can also provide an e-copy of our report and provide you with certification as proof of testing.
Call us on 01473 741320 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more advice or visit