Conforming to PAT testing regulations will help you to ensure that the portable appliances in your business are safe and help you to avoid violations. PAT testing legislation was put into effect to ensure that all companies conform to the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974, Electricity at Work Regulations of 1989, Provision and Use of Work Equipment regulations of 1998 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work regulations of 1999.
The current law requires that all employers maintain portable appliances and ensure their safety. This is done through testing of the appliances to safeguard against damage and to make certain that these items perform properly.
PAT testing law requires that all landlords, employers and even self-employed individuals make sure that their portable electrical appliances are safe and are suitable and used for the purposes intended. These appliances should always be maintained properly and remain in good working order.
The guidelines are designed to make certain that this equipment is kept protected and is preserved through regular maintenance as well as inspections and periodic testing. Damage and fault can occur with all electrical equipment use which makes it essential that these items are tested regularly for safety.
PAT testing is done to ensure that all electrical equipment that is classified as “portable” is deemed safe for use. The legislation deems that any competent person can perform it by using a PAT instrument or tester. The visual examination of each appliance in addition to the actual PAT test should be performed only by someone who is deemed competent.
According to PAT testing legislation, a competent person is someone who has experience or knowledge of being able to check and test appliances for safety purposes. Those with knowledge of electricity in general as well as anyone who has experience in electrical work can be deemed capable.
It is imperative that employers, landlords and self-employed individuals follow the rules to ensure that their workplaces are safe. Testing can be done by any number of PAT testing companies or individuals can obtain certification to perform their own testing by successfully completing coursework in this field.
Is PAT Testing A Legal Requirement?
There is currently no strict legal requirement for PAT testing. The Government however has put regulations into place that pertain to the maintenance of electrical appliances and the most effective way to ensure that these regulations are met is through PAT testing.
The UK Health and Safety Executive along with insurance companies will expect you to perform PAT testing to ensure that you are compliant with certain regulations including:
- Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974
- The Electricity at Work Regulations of 1989
- The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations of 1998
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations of 1999
Not complying with the above mentioned regulations can result in fines up to £5,000 and/or six months imprisonment. Fines have been seen to go as high as £20,000 and offences heard in the Crown Court have carried sentences of more than 2 years imprisonment in additional to unlimited financial penalties. So even though PAT testing itself is not legally required, it simply helps you to protect yourself by ensuring that you are complying with these regulations.
Claims that PAT testing is required by law and that the client is breaking the law by not having it done are simply not true. The law does require however that employers, including self-employed, ensure that all electrical equipment that they provide in their business is safe and properly maintained. This means that PAT testing is a critical part of your company’s health and safety and should be considered part of a solution to your safety concerns.
PAT testing provides the most effective way to identify defects that can come with use. Faults in electrical equipment pose a potential hazard, particularly if they are not repaired readily. Even though PAT testing itself is not required by law, the consequences of electrical faults should be considered carefully.
PAT Testing Frequency
PAT testing is required by employers, landlords and self-employed to ensure safety of portable appliances. The Health & Safety Executive provides no set rule on PAT testing frequency, only that testing should be done regularly to ensure preventative maintenance. The reason that there is no set frequency is because different situations arise that call for different measures. There are a number of factors that affect PAT testing frequency and it is up to each individual to determine when testing should be carried out.
In order to determine how often you should have your appliances tested, you should bear in mind a few different factors:
- Equipment that is used more should be tested more frequently. This equipment is likely to suffer less damage than that used regularly.
- If people using equipment report any damages as they become noticeable, there is less chance of a major hazard. If equipment regularly receives damage or abuse that is not reported then inspections and testing are required more frequently.
- The type of equipment in question is a major factor in determining PAT testing frequency. Hand held appliances are more likely to become damaged than those that are stationary. Class 1 appliances carry the greatest risk of danger and should be tested more often.
Although there are no requirements for PAT testing frequency, there are recommendations:
Offices, Shops and Hotels – Class 1 equipment including stationary and IT equipment should be tested every 48 months. Moveable equipment such as extension leads and portable equipment should be tested every 24 months. Handheld equipment should be tested every 12 months.
Schools – All Class 1 equipment in schools should be PAT tested every 12 months. Class 2 equipment should be tested every 48 months.
Public Use Equipment – Stationary and IT equipment such as computers should be tested every 12 months. Moveable, Portable and Handheld equipment falling into Class 2 should be tested every 12 months. Moveable, Portable and Handheld equipment falling into Class 1 should be tested every 6 months.
Construction – All 110V equipment used on construction sites should be tested every 3 months.
Industrial – All industrial sites, including commercial kitchens should have Portable and Handheld equipment tested every 6 months. Stationary, IT and Moveable equipment should be tested every 12 months.