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Frequently asked questions

What is PAT testing?

PAT testing is the routine inspection of some types of electrical appliances. The purpose is to ensure the safety of those appliances and prevent electrical accidents in the workplace.

PAT testing involves a thorough visual check of the appliance (flex, fuse, plug, wiring, casing) followed by a series of electrical tests. These tests include Earth Continuity, Insulation Resistance and Lead Polarity checks.  

When a PAT test is completed the appliance is marked as ‘Pass’ or ‘Fail’ and the results are recorded.

Is PAT testing a legal obligation?

PAT testing is not, in itself, a legal obligation. However, UK legislation states that businesses must maintain electrical equipment in a safe manner and protect employees and the public from electrical accidents. For example, the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 4(2) that states ‘as may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, such danger’. Similarly, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 places a duty of care upon employers and employees to ensure the safety of all persons using work premises. PAT testing is regarded as the most effective way of meeting these legal obligations and shows you have a maintenance regime in place.

Often, insurance companies require businesses to conduct annual PAT testing, which, if not upheld, may result in refusal of making a claim.  

Who is responsible for electrical appliance safety?

The employer is responsible for ensuring the safety of electrical appliances. A duty holder (manager, director, owner etc) is responsible for ensuring a ‘competent person’ is assigned to keeping the company compliant.

We use 4th Edition ‘Pass’ stickers which do not show a ‘next test due date’. These new stickers place responsibility on the duty holder to ensure the company remains compliant. However, we provide yearly reminders well in advance of your current certificate expiry date.

What are the penalties if I do not meet my legal obligations?

The penalties for a business not meeting its electrical appliance safety obligations can be as high as 2 years imprisonment and unlimited fines. This will depend on the severity of the situation.

What needs testing?

Any electrical equipment that is either permanently connected or by a plug and socket outlet needs to be inspected and tested. A portable appliance is defined as “an appliance of not more than 18kg in mass that is intended to be moved while in operation or an appliance that can easily be moved from one place to another”. Examples include kettles, toasters, and food mixers.  

The term ‘Portable’ can be misleading as not all appliances requiring testing are portable. Other types include handheld, fixed, stationary, IT, movable and extension leads (inc. cables, chargers and RCDs). For example, a washing machine is a stationary appliance as it exceeds 18kg in mass and does not have a carrying handle.  

We can test any electrical item that has a UK 3 pin plug or 110V commando plug attached to it. An electrician will be required to test anything permanently connected to the fixed electrical installation via a fused spur e.g. a wall extractor or hand dryer. However, we will conduct a thorough visual check of such appliances as the visual inspection is the most important element of PAT testing.


Do new appliances require testing?

New equipment should be supplied in a safe condition and not require electrical testing. However, a visual check is recommended at the very least to check the item is not damaged.

Electrical items are manufactured all around the world and a percentage of items will be ‘batch tested’. These items are then shipped using varies modes of transport before they reach the customer.

With this is mind, it is strongly recommended to test all new items as damage could occur during transportation. Insurance companies may also dictate that new electrical items are tested as well as any new items brought onto the premises.

What are the appliance classes?

The categories of appliances are either Class 1, Class 2 or Class 3. Class 1 appliances are the most dangerous, Class 3 are the least dangerous and each class will require its own specific set of tests.  

Class 1:
These appliances require a full PAT test including ‘Earth Continuity’, ‘Insulation Resistance’ and ‘Lead Polarity’ checks. Class 1 appliances offer basic insulation and protection via an earth cable between the earth pin and appliance casing. An example of a class 1 appliance is a kettle. Class 2:These appliances require an ‘Insulation Resistance’ test.

Class 2:
appliances offer basic and supplementary insulation and are therefore safer than Class 1 appliances. An example of a class 2 appliance is a bedside lamp.

Class 3:
These appliances do not require a PAT test however, the appliance charger may require one. Class 3 appliances are low voltage and therefore the safest. An example of a class 3 appliance is a torch.

How often should appliances be PAT tested?

There are no specific rules or laws that state the frequency of PAT testing. However, regulations state the level of precaution taken should be ‘appropriate’ to the risk.  

There are 3 factors that determine the frequency of testing: 

   

  • The RISK level of the environment·

  • The CLASS of the appliance

  • The CATEGORY of the appliance


For example, computers within an office environment that are used by the same people and not moved around are a much lower risk than that of appliances being used by multiple people on a construction site.

The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) also recommends considering the following:

  • Age of equipment  

  • Frequency of use     

  • Foreseeable misuse of equipment

  • Effects of modification and repairs      

  • History of the item


The table below, from the IET Code of Practice, shows the frequency that appliance categories should be tested in a variety of environments.


It is important to note that annual PAT testing is common as many insurance companies stipulate this as part of their insurance terms. Failure to comply with their terms could result in an unsuccessful claim should it be required.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What happens if an appliance fails a PAT test?

If an appliance fails its PAT test at the visual inspection we will replace the fuse, 3 pin plug or re-wire it if that is the cause of failure. If the appliance is physically damaged beyond this it will be removed from service immediately, logged and handed over to the duty holder. The appliance may be repaired by an electrician or the manufacturer if the duty holder wishes but it should be PAT tested again after this is completed.

If an appliance passes a visual check but fails an electrical test the same process as outlined above will be followed.

What documents will I receive after my PAT testing is completed?

Upon completion of testing, we will provide a detailed report that contains information about your assets, test results, critical failures and defects, repairs, and certification.

 

This comprehensive summary enables you to monitor your assets, which is particularly beneficial to those operating across multiple divisions and sites. As an environmentally conscious organisation, this report is sent to you as a digital file.

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