In today’s technologically driven workplaces full of diverse electrical equipment, the focus on safety is paramount. PAT Testing ensures your devices are operating at peak condition and free from any hidden hazards. Understanding and fulfilling your responsibilities regarding PAT Testing is central to creating a secure work environment.

This article explores the importance of PAT Testing in the workplace to minimise risks such as fires and electric shocks, ensure workplace safety, and maintain the efficiency of your electrical equipment to prevent potential downtime.


What is PAT Testing?

PAT Testing stands for Portable Appliance Testing. It is a process by which electrical appliances and equipment are examined and tested to ensure they are safe. While many defects that could cause safety issues can be identified by visual inspection alone, others require a testing procedure.


What Appliances Require PAT Testing?

Any portable electrical appliance that uses a flexible cable or a plug and socket must be PAT tested, including any device plugged into a wall socket or a generator. This includes items such as computer equipment, kettles, photocopiers, cash registers and vending machines.

Items that may not appear portable such as a refrigerator or dishwasher, will need to be tested because they plug into a socket. Cordless items such as power tools or electric bikes will not need to be tested, but their battery charger would need to be tested.


Electrical Classes

Electrical appliances will usually be categorised as Class 1, 2 or 3. Class 1 refers to potentially dangerous appliances, and Class 3 is the least dangerous. Class 1 appliances have only basic insulation and rely on an earth for protection. Class 2 appliances don’t require an earth for protection and feature extra insulation

These classes help determine whether a PAT test is required and the type of test that should be conducted. Class 1 appliances need a full PAT test, and Class 2 requires a PAT insulation test. Class 3 appliances do not have to be PAT tested.


Is PAT Testing a Legal Requirement?

Inspection and testing of electrical appliances are not a legal requirement, but it is strongly recommended. The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 requires that any electrical equipment that has the potential to cause injury needs to be maintained in a safe condition. Failing to comply with these regulations can result in fines and prosecution.

How this should be achieved is not detailed, but PAT Testing is a key means through which companies ensure they are compliant with the regulations. Regular PAT Testing gives you peace of mind that electrical equipment is safe for employees, tenants, and members of the public to use.


Why is PAT Testing Important?

PAT Testing is a critical means by which you can ensure that your electrical equipment is safe to use. Regular PAT Testing of electrical equipment protects users against the dangers of faulty or damaged electrical equipment. Faulty equipment can pose serious user risks, such as fires and electric shocks. PAT Testing identifies potential hazards that can then be addressed.

Undertaking sufficient PAT Testing is a way to demonstrate that you take your legal responsibilities seriously.  Regular PAT Testing enables you to show your commitment to electrical safety. It provides proof that safety measures are being taken seriously, also helping minimise the risk of unplanned downtime and ensuring that appliances work as safely and efficiently as possible.


What Does the PAT Testing Process Involve?

You should create a comprehensive list of all the electrical equipment at your premises that will require testing. A visual inspection of each appliance should be carried out before the formal testing. This should involve looking for damage, such as loose cables or other signs of wear and tear.

Before the PAT Testing process begins, all appliances should be unplugged, and similar items grouped for easy access. Any equipment users should be notified in advance that testing will be taking place and equipment will be out of action for a short period.

For Class 2 appliances, the testing process will involve a close visual inspection of the devices. This will look for signs of any damage, such as loose cables or wear and tear, that could compromise safety. If any damage is discovered, the appliance will have failed the PAT Test and will then need to be repaired or replaced.

PAT Testing of Class 1 appliances begins with this visual inspection and includes an in-depth check using specialist PAT Testing equipment. This will consist of insulation resistance tests, earth continuity and lead polarity.


After the PAT Test

The PAT Test will categorise your electrical appliances into two groups based on whether they passed or failed the test. Devices that meet the necessary safety standard will be marked with a pass to indicate they comply with electrical safety regulations. Those who have not passed the PAT Test will be marked as such and need further attention or be replaced.

The PAT tester will supply a comprehensive report that documents the condition of each item that has been tested, as well as any additional recommendations. Proper record-keeping should be a key component of workplace safety procedures. Appliances that pass PAT Testing will be labelled with the date the test was carried out and the recommended date for the next test.


How Often is a PAT Test Required?

There is no specific legal requirement for how often PAT Testing should be carried out. However, the HSE publishes guidance that suggests that appliances in lower-risk environments should be PAT Tested every 2-4 years.

In higher-risk environments, such as construction sites, factories, or laboratories, this should be every 6-12 months. The same applies to appliances used by the public, such as those found in hospitals, hotels and schools. A risk assessment should be conducted to ascertain how often testing should occur.

The validity of a PAT Test certificate will be determined by the date of the previous test rather than a fixed duration. This means that once an appliance has been tested, the certificate will be valid until the next test.


Who is Responsible for Electrical Appliance Safety in the Workplace and Office Environment?

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 and The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 outline the obligations of employers when it comes to safety in the workplace. The employer is responsible for ensuring that all electrical appliances in the workplace are safe to use and fit for their intended purpose.


Who Can Carry Out a PAT Test?

In some instances, a suitably qualified and experienced person may be able to conduct a visual inspection of Class 2 equipment in the workplace. However, in most cases, organisations will choose to employ a qualified electrician to carry out comprehensive PAT Testing.

At Akehurst Electrical, we specialise in PAT Testing for your commercial property. Our team of experienced and NICEIC-certified electricians are dedicated to ensuring that your appliances are safe to use and working efficiently. We can carry out a comprehensive PAT Test of your electrical equipment, providing you valuable peace of mind that you are meeting your safety responsibilities.

Contact us to find out more about our commercial electrical services.