Is pat testing necessary?
Is portable appliance testing (PAT) absolutely necessary in the workplace? Many of our clients ask this question, believing that they need to test all their appliances annually because that is what the law says. In summary, the Electricity at Work Regulations require that electrical equipment that has the potential to cause injury is maintained in a safe condition. However, the Regulations don’t make inspection or testing of electrical appliances a legal requirement. Nor do they make it a legal requirement to undertake this annually.
The risk of injury from electricity is strongly linked to where and how it is used. Undoubtedly, the risks are greatest in harsh conditions. For example, equipment used in wet surroundings, outdoors, in cramped spaces and equipment like extension leads and other flexible leads. Especially those connected to equipment that is often moved. With this in mind, your health and safety risk assessment should consider the risks associated with electricity and electrical equipment.
Our advice for workplace pat testing
We advice that you should make decisions on maintenance levels and the frequency of checks in consultation with equipment users. This should be based on the risk of electrical items becoming faulty. There is an increased risk of this happening if the equipment isn’t used correctly or isn’t suitable for the job.
You should have an appropriate system of maintenance put in place. This can include user checks by employees, e.g., a pre-use visual check for loose cables or signs of fire damage; a more formal visual inspection carried out at regular intervals, and where necessary, a portable appliance test (PAT) by someone with the necessary knowledge and experience to carry out a test and interpret the results.
It is vital that you remove damaged or defective equipment from use. We advise you should either repair it by someone competent or dispose of to prevent its further use.
By concentrating on a simple, inexpensive system of looking for visible signs of damage or faults, most of the electrical risks can be controlled. For your convenience, we have a free resource available to download, see the Portable Appliance Visual Inspection checklist here.
If you require additional help with PAT testing at your workplace or any other Health & Safety support, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0141 221 2984.
We also have a free Health & Safety ‘Health Check’ for your business for a quick overview of your health & safety.