FAQ's about PAT Testing

First is testing a legal requirement - no it is not.

But and it is a big but, as the IET Code of Practice for the In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment (5th Edition), can be used to prove negligence under current legislation in the event of an electrical equipment related accident where a suitable safety regime is either not in place or is inadequate. Fines imposed can be very hefty and ruinous where negligence has been proven.

Therefore, more and more companies small, medium and large, the self-employed and Landlords are now mitigating their risk by including PAT testing/ electrical equipment safety testing as part of their electrical equipment Health & Safety regime, plus some insurers are asking for it as a requirement in their policies.

Any person who carries out PAT Testing needs to be a competent person with a knowledge of electricity, electrical equipment and systems.

Such a person may be a member of staff, who has adequate knowledge and training to carry out simple visual checks. But for combined formal Visual Inspection and Testing, a much higher level of knowledge and experience will be required, plus the correct test equipment and the knowledge to use it correctly and interpret the results.

This is covered by "Regulation 16, Electricity at Work Regulations (1989)" which states:"
'No person shall be engaged in any work activity where technical knowledge or experience is necessary to prevent danger or, where appropriate, injury, unless he possesses such knowledge or experience, or is under such degree of supervision as may be appropriate having regard to the nature of the work'.

It is a common misunderstanding that PAT testing applies to only equipment with a 3 pin plug.

However, regulations such as the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, encompasses all electrical appliances, and does not make differences for types of equipment, regardless of whether it is connected to an electricity supply via a 3 pin plug, an industrial plug or fused spur.

Therefore, all electrical appliances and equipment need to be maintained in a safe condition.

Simply if you are an employer, self employed or a landlord, it is the owner of the business, or a person they appoint to act on their behalf, commonly called the Duty Holder.

It is the Duty Holders responsibility to carry out a regular risk assessment of the electrical equipment, then determine the risk to persons using it, record the findings and determine a regular maintenance regime.

They also must assess the risk to visitors using the equipment on their premises (this could be vending machines, hand dryers and children's rides etc.).

Therefore, it can be appreciated how a PAT Testing company can prove a valuable addition to carry out this risk assessment and testing or being appointed as a Duty Holder for smaller organisations.

That is your choice, and if weighing up the risks you choose not to carry out a risk assessment or PAT Test, you may be be lucky and nothing would happen.

But, should anyone injure themselves or suffer an electric shock due to using your equipment, you could find your insurance becomes invalid, you would undergo a rigorous HSE inspection, and possibly be subject to criminal and civil charges, that may result in ruinous fines, and at best a tarnished reputation or imprisonment at worst.