It is important to know what electrical appliances come under PAT

If your business uses electrical equipment, you will need to have it tested regularly to make sure it is safe and in good working order. This is called portable appliance testing or PAT. Some equipment is exempt so you need to know what needs to be tested and what does not. Unsafe electrical equipment is not only dangerous for the person using it, it can pose other hazards as well such as cause and electrical fire. The best thing to do is check the Health and Safety Executive guidelines for PAT to find out what equipment is covered by legislation.

The HSE has published new revised guidance on portable appliance testing (PAT) in an effort to stamp out the confusion which currently exists over testing requirements.

It is estimated that office based businesses are currently wasting around £30 million per year on unnecessary testing often due to misleading advice provided by companies offering testing.

The HSE said that it is a myth that every portable electrical appliance in the workplace needs to be tested once a year. In reality the law only requires an employer to ensure that electrical equipment is maintained in order to prevent danger. It does not stipulate that every item has to be tested or how often the testing needs to be carried out. The level of maintenance required should be determined according to the risk of an item becoming faulty and how the equipment is constructed.

Launching the revised guidance on portable appliance testing (PAT), HSE’s Chairman Judith Hackitt commented on the fact that many companies were being misled over the legal requirements and were paying for testing that was not needed. She said “Businesses are responsible for protecting their employees, but they shouldn’t be wasting their money on unnecessary checks that have no real benefit.”

The new simple to follow guidance has been revised in response to the publication last year of the Lofstedt report on health and safety legislation which concluded that the legal requirements in respect of the maintenance of electrical appliances were too widely applied resulting in costly and unnecessary testing.

The new guidance “INDG 236 – Maintaining Portable Electric Equipment in Low Risk Environments” explains the precautions that need to be taken to prevent danger from portable or moveable electrical equipment in low-risk environments, such as offices, shops, some parts of hotels and residential care homes. Click here to continue

Further information

Maintaining portable electric equipment in low-risk environments

Portable appliance testing FAQs