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PAT Testing Law

The industry has been plagued for years by cowboys trying making easy money by telling business that they must get PAT tested because “it’s the law”. There is no such law, but many parliamentary acts have produced legislation that dictates that businesses have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of both employees and public alike.

PAT Testing and the law depicted by a gavel and the scales of justice

So there is no law which says you must PAT Test your equipment. In fact, all that the legislation requires is that your equipment is maintained in a safe condition. Of course, keeping it in a safe condition means you must do something - otherwise it will deteriorate and you'll be in trouble when you have that inevitable accident, this risk also applies at home but there no legislation for home appliances (other than manufacturing ones) and in the main most home owners chose to ignore any risks.

The only way to comply with this legislation is through testing, and the recording of results. So, every item of electrical equipment in a commercial environment – from chargers and computers to kettles and desk lamps – must be PAT tested for safety, the types of test and results obtained must be recorded. Without detailed results Duty Holders have no proof that they performed “due diligence” in the conduct of their duties under British law.

We have established that PAT Testing is not a legal requirement, but sometimes other organisations have an influence over testing! In many cases, insurance companies insist on PAT testing being carried out every 12 months in order for the public and employers liability cover to be valid. Some companies require landlords renting their properties to have PAT Testing carried out, and many bands and DJ's have to have their equipment tested before they can set up in public buildings and hotels.

PAT Sure provides you with everything you need to keep on the right side of current legislation in respect of your obligations toward portable appliance testing, however we cannot read your insurance policies, if you are a duty holder for your company please read the small print before it’s too late.


What if I don’t comply!

Failure to comply with Electrical Regulations can, at its extreme, lead to imprisonment. There is a maximum penalty of a £5,000 fine and/or up to six months imprisonment for breaches under the general duties of the Health Safety at Work Act 1974. In 1992 penalties of up to £20,000 were introduced and offences heard on indictment in the Crown Court now attract unlimited financial penalties and up to two years imprisonment


Which products do we have to PAT Test?

Anything electrical that can be moved has to be maintained. The reason for this is that most of the damage occurs to the power cord or the plug and the chances of this happening are higher if the appliance can be moved. It only needs one wrong move to cause damage that is a potential hazard. So not only do small portable appliances have to be tested, equipment such as fridge freezers and washing machines also fall within the scope of legislation. Handheld items such as drills and hair dryers can suffer damage more easily. For this reason they are maintained more frequently than stationary items such as fridge freezers.


What The Statutes say;

How legislation points toward PAT testing The legislation of specific relevance to electrical maintenance is: (for guidance only; not intended to be definitive)


The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974;

  • Section 2(a) the provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health;
  • Section 6.1(c) requires that it shall be the duty of any person who designs, manufacturers, imports or supplies any article for use at work to supply adequate information about the use for which the article is designed and has been tested, and about any conditions necessary to ensure that it will be safe when being used, cleaned, set, maintained, dismantled and disposed of.


 The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999

  • Regulation 3(1) Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work; and the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking. For the purpose of identifying the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon him by or under the relevant statutory provisions and by Part II of the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997.


The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998

  • Regulation 4(1) Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is so constructed or adapted as to be suitable for the purpose for which it is used or provided.
  • Regulation 4(2) In selecting work equipment, every employer shall have regard to the working conditions and to the risks to the health and safety of persons which exist in the premises or undertaking in which that work equipment is to be used and any additional risk posed by the use of that work equipment.
  • Regulation 4(3) Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is used only for operations for which, and under conditions for which, it is suitable.
  • Regulation 4(4) In this regulation “suitable” means suitable in any respect which it is reasonably foreseeable will affect the health or safety of any person.
  • Regulation 5(1) Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.


The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989; (EAWR 1989)

  • Regulation 2 defines an electrical system as all equipment which is or can be connected to a source of electrical energy and the term includes both the source and the equipment. The same Regulation defines electrical equipment as anything used, intended to be used or installed for use to generate, provide, transmit, transform, rectify, convert, conduct, distribute, control, store, measure or use electrical energy.
  • Regulation 4(2) 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’.
  • Regulation 29 states that it shall be a defence if it can be proved that all reasonable steps were taken and due diligence was exercised to avoid the commission of any offence under certain regulations.


Workplace (Health, Safety & welfare) Regulations 1992

  • These regulations require that every employer shall ensure that the workplace equipment, devices and systems are maintained. This includes keeping the equipment devices and systems in an efficient state, in efficient working order, and in good repair. Where appropriate, the equipment, devices and systems shall be subject to a suitable system of maintenance.


Law and legislation make Portable appliance testing necessary It is clear that the combination of the:

The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974

The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

The Workplace (Health, Safety & welfare) Regulations 1992

Applies to all electrical equipment used in, or associated with, places of work. The scope extends from distribution systems down to the smallest piece of electrical equipment. It is clear that there is a legal requirement to test and inspect all types of electrical equipment used in all work situations.

To ensure that all workplace electrical systems are properly managed, installed and maintained in such a way as to prevent an accident it is clear that the (EAWR 1989) intention is toward a prospective approach in preventative maintenance. The only sensible method to accurately and repeatedly decide when maintenance is necessary to prevent danger is to perform regular inspections and testing of the equipment concerned; consequently there is a legal requirement to inspect and test any equipment which may be connected to an electrical supply