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What The Law Say
Electrical Equipment  In The Workplace Must Be Maintained In A Safe Condition 

UK legislation states that businesses must maintain electrical equipment in a safe condition. However, PAT testing is not, in itself, a legal requirement or obligation. UK businesses have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of their employees and of the public.

These duties and responsibilities are set out for businesses in:

 

One of the most effective ways for businesses to prove that they have safely maintained electrical equipment is by certifying that their electrical appliances are PAT tested. This has become a standard way of businesses meeting this legal obligation and proving that they have done so.

Whilst there is no specific legal obligation to PAT test, many insurance companies will reject a claim should it be proven that a fire or accident occurred due to faulty electrical equipment that has not been properly maintained. The courts can also issue large fines or even imprisonment should a case of negligence or corporate manslaughter be brought forward citing faulty electrical equipment.

There are, however, new legal obligations for private landlords; this is called the Landlord Electrical Safety Certificate Legal Requirement. From 1st June 2020, private landlords in England must have the electrical installation in their rental properties checked by a qualified electrician to ensure that it is safe.

This means that:

  • From 1st July 2020 electrical installations must have been inspected and tested by a qualified electrician prior to the start of a new tenancy.

  • By 1st April 2021checks must have been carried out by a qualified electrician on any existing tenancies.

 

These checks must then be carried out on a five-yearly basis. If a landlord is found to not have complied with the law or if no attempt has been made to complete necessary remedial work that was identified, they could face a penalty fine of up to £30,000. At present, the Landlord Electrical Safety Certificate Legal Requirement does not extend to holiday lets.

 

Who is responsible for electrical appliance safety?

The business owner/employer is responsible for electrical appliance safety. In larger organisations a ‘competent person’ is often appointed by the employer, whose role is to make sure the organisation is compliant with electrical appliance safety; however, the ultimate responsibility for safety lies with the organisation’s directors.

Do I need PAT to test Employees’ personal equipment?

In all the environments listed above, businesses have a duty of care to ensure that any appliance used on their premises is suitable for use within their environment and to also ensure the safety of any employees, visitors and the wider general public.

As stated above, there is no legal obligation to PAT test electrical equipment, however, if an employee is bringing in and using their own equipment on your premises in order to carry out your business, then you have a joint responsibility with your employee to maintain any equipment used by your employee for their job. This includes personal laptops, desk lighting, fans or any other electrical equipment they may use.

You should always be concerned whenever someone brings in an appliance to your premises.

This may include:

  • Students.

  • Contractors.

  • Care home visitors.

  • Trades personnel.

 

Their electrical equipment could, after all, be damaged and bring with it a risk of electrical shock or it could be the catalyst for a fire starting.

If a building fire is caused by a faulty appliance, your insurance company could invalidate its obligations to pay, particularly if you can’t prove that the appliance that started the fire or caused the shock to that person was tested. Many organisations insist that all electrical appliances, whoever owns them, are checked prior to being allowed on site.

When employees are working from home, employers still have a duty of care towards their employees. This means if you PAT test electrical equipment on your premises, you should extend this to home workers too. There are two ways of carrying out PAT testing for home workers. You can either arrange for a PAT tester to visit them at home or you can ask your employee to bring their equipment in for testing when they next come into your premises.

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