Portable Appliance Testing

Portable Appliance Testing, or PAT Testing as it is more commonly known, involves the testing of electrical appliances to ensure that they are electrically safe.

Essentially anything with a plug or that can be supplied by a plug can be classed as a PAT test. Computers, printers, faxes, fridges, microwaves, IEC leads and extension leads are examples of items that can be PAT tested.

Some companies say that PAT testing is a legal requirement, others say it isn’t, some companies insist that the law specifies that testing must be done every 12 months and others say the opposite so there tends to be a lot of confusion around the issue, but in reality there is no specific mention of PAT testing in legislation. There is no formal requirement to label your items or produce a PAT testing report or to test your kit every 1 or 2 or 3 years etc.

So why does everyone PAT test?

Whilst the law does not specifically reference PAT testing, legislation is in place to ensure the safety of staff in the work place. For example Regulation 4 (2) of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 states:

“As may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, such danger”.

Given that all electrical appliances are varying forms of electrical systems it is fair to say that this portion of legislation places the onus on a duty holder to ensure that their portable appliances are safe to use. This requirement neatly ties in with the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 which puts a duty of care upon both employer and employee to ensure the safety of all persons using the work premises.

So why do people label all their kit and produce PAT testing reports?

Should there be an accident in the work place due to a faulty electrical appliance, the incident will need to be investigated. If this is serious enough to warrant an investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) then their representative will want to see proof of your compliance with the relevant legislation. Providing them with a PAT testing report, which records all test data from a PAT testing programme and corresponds to labelling on each appliance, tends to be the simplest and most effective manner of achieving this.

There is also no frequency specified for testing as every site is unique. Carrying out a risk assessment of your site will provide you with an initial set of frequencies for testing and as you carry out your testing each year the subsequent test data will enable you to refine your testing procedure so that you test only to the frequencies your site requires.

If you would like any further information, require a quotation or would like to discuss PAT testing in more detail please give us a call on 0203 2864079. Alternatively complete our Contact Page and a representative will call you straight back.


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