Are your electrical appliances safe?

Electrical tools require testing to ensure they are safe to use. Although cordless tools are exempt, their chargers are not and must be tested. Portable appliance testing or PAT should be carried out by properly trained authorised testers. Any electrical appliances that are used by employees or the public should be included, so everything from power tools to heated towel rails and kettles.

The HSE has reissued guidance on portable appliance testing (PAT) to combat misleading advice.

Issuing a revamped version of the leaflet INDG 236 MaintainingZ Portable Electric Equipment in Low-Risk Environments, the regulator said disproportionate advice on PAT costs business £30 million a year.

Many organisations with “low-risk” environments such as offices, shops, some parts of hotels and residential care homes are persuaded to pay unnecessarily for annual PAT for all workplace
equipment, said the HSE.

Though it contains no new information, the guide has been reissued after Professor Ragnar Löfstedt’s government-commissioned review of safety regulation last year said the legal requirements for electrical appliance maintenance were “applied too widely and disproportionately”.

Regulation 4(2) of the Electricity at Work Regulations requires dutyholders only to ensure electrical equipment is maintained “at regular, appropriate intervals” to prevent danger.

INDG 236 now incorporates INDG 237 which covered the same topic for hotels and tourist accommodation.

It sets out recommended frequencies for visual inspection and combined inspection and testing for common electrical equipment.

They include between two and four-yearly visual checks for desktop computers and display screens but no fault testing if they are double insulated.

An HSE spokesperson told HSW the relaunch was designed to clear up “confusion, often spread by companies offering the services themselves.”

Launching the redesigned leaflet, employment minister Chris Grayling claimed it was evidence of “significant progress” by the government in cutting red tape affecting businesses. Click here to continue

Further information


PAT testing and portable appliance testing information