What is PAT Testing?

  • Portable Appliance Testing (Pat Testing) is an important part of a company's responsibility to keep up to date with health and safety.

  • PAT testing is completed in compliance with the IEE code of practice and HSE guidelines and involves a visual inspection to check the appliance casing and flex for wear or damage.

  • This involves appliances in the work place having a series of specialized test procedures.

  • After being tested the appliance will have the test results and data recorded.

  • Labels are placed on all appliances to identify whether the item has passed or failed.

  • Test results and Asset lists for each appliance will be given with pass or fail information.

  • On completion a Pat Testing certificate will be given to prove the testing has been carried out and to display for health and safety purposes.


    What is a portable appliance and Which appliances need testing?


    For the purpose of the legislation, a portable electrical appliance is taken to be an item of equipment which is not part of a fixed installation but is, or is intended to be, connected to fixed installation, or a generator, by means of a flexible cable and a plug and socket.

    Phew, heavy stuff eh? In layman's term this means that any item with a plug is Portable Appliance. This would include electric drills, kettles, PCs, printers, monitors, extension lead and even some large items such as vending machines and photocopiers.

    Why PAT Test?



    PAT testing was introduced to ensure that all electrical appliances are safely maintained and suitable for the environment in which they are used. This involves periodic planned inspection and testing of portable appliances to meet all required standards and regulations. The Electricity at Work Regulation states that it is a legal requirement that the employer maintains their electrical systems at work to prevent any danger.

    Important reasons for carrying out Portable Appliance Testing include:

    • Adherence to the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974
    • Compliance with the Electricity At Work Regulations 1989
    • Minimize Fire Risks due to faulty damaged electrical equipment
    • Minimize Electric Shock Hazards due to faulty/ damaged electrical equipment
    • Insurance companies cannot dispute claims for damage through fire because of insufficient electrical maintenance
    • The ISO 9000 Quality Assurance Standard requires all companies to comply with the Health and Safety requirements
    • Maintain the safety of employees, visitors and customers

    How often do I have items tested ?



    There is no specific schedule set out. There are however guidelines to help. The frequency of testing depends on the type of equipment and the environment in which it is used. For example a high-risk item such as an electric drill should be tested more frequently than a low risk item such as a PC. Furthermore a drill that is used everyday in a high density manufacturing plant should be tested more frequently than a drill used only occasionally in an office environment. Essentially it is the responsibility of the employer to assess the risk involved and implement it's own program of testing. Most companies still opt for a blanket test of all equipment on an annual basis to ensure conformity.

    Can anyone test items?

    No, the legislation states that the person testing the item must be a competent person.

    Is it done during normal office hours?

    This type of testing can be executed either during or outside normal working hours. If you are in charge of a department budget you should be aware that it is likely that evening work and weekend work would attract an uplift in costs.

    Do we have to unplug the machines?

    Yes. In order to electrically test the equipment it needs to be disconnected from the mains and plugged into a testing device. This is how the electrical readings are obtained and a PASS or FAIL status is defined.

    What are the implications for our I.T. systems, servers and critical systems?

    In some environments where it is not possible to turn equipment on and off, such as computer suites and comms rooms, it may only be appropriate for a visual inspection to be carried out. If this is the case, then every effort must be made to carry out a combined inspection and test at the next available times. This would normally be during a scheduled shutdown for maintenance purpose.

    How long does it take?

    This will obviously depend on the number of appliances within you're building and how easily accessible they are. A normal workstation with a computer, printer and extension lead would typically take between 10 and 15 minutes to test and reconnect. If you have any specific timescales to work to you should liaise with us and gain clarification.

    Is Portable Appliance Testing a legal requirement?

    PAT Testing or portable appliance testing is a specialized process of testing all portable electrical appliances to ensure they are safe to use. It is a legal requirement, and your responsibility as an employer, to make sure that all electrical appliances in the workplace are regularly maintained and in good repair. It is therefore recommended good practice to test the appliances are safe to use by means of PAT Testing.

    Does PAT Testing affect insurance cover?

    Insurance companies assume when giving cover that there is compliance with all necessary regulations. An insurance company may reduce, delay or even refuse to pay a claim for damage if an appliance that has not been tested is the cause.