PAT, Portable Appliance Testing Explained



Every year about 1000 accidents at work involving electric shock and burns are reported to the Health and Safety Executive? 


HSE prosecutions lead to fines and prison sentences.


Whatever your profession, trade or business, if you allow employees or the general public to use equipment then any appliances on the premises should be inspected and tested to approved standards on a regular basis.


Records must be maintained as proof of testing!




There are four main sets of legislation relating to in-service inspection and testing of electrical equipment or Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) as it is more commonly known.

These are:-

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

The Management of the Health and Safety at Work Act Regulations 1999

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989


Regulation 4 (2) of The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 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”.


In order to meet these requirements, it is recommended to implement a programme of planned inspection and testing of portable appliances.


What is a portable appliance?


A “portable” appliance constitutes any item that has a plug and is connected to a mains socket in order to operate. It can be hand held, portable or fixed. Such items would include the following:


PCs, monitors, printers, fax machines, mailing equipment, scanners, kettles, fans, portable air conditioning/heaters, radios, stereos, TVs, projectors, microwaves, toasters, drink machines, water coolers, mobile phone chargers, power supply units, extension leads, tills, credit card machines, compressors, photocopiers and any specialist trade equipment such as hair dryers, drills, soldering irons, chip fryers, hedge trimmers, lathes, beauty/tanning equipment.




Generally the items tested are either 240V mains supply or 110V (generally on building sites).

Portable Appliance Testing by an external contractor would generally involve carrying out formal inspection and testing as laid out in the IEE Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment for portable appliances. This involves the following procedure:


1.      Each item is given an asset number.

2.      Formal inspection of cable, plug, internal plug wiring and fuse. Any equipment failing the inspection test will either be repaired if a minor repair is acceptable or be withdrawn from service and labelled with a fail sticker for repair by others.

3.      Assuming visual inspection passed, approved electrical testing procedures take place using a Portable Appliance Tester. These tests are specific to the class of equipment being tested and all results per item are retained in the tester.

4.      All items passing tests are provided with a pass sticker indicating result, asset number and date of next inspection. Any item failing test will be labelled accordingly as a failure and withdrawn from service.

5.      At the end of testing equipment on site, the test results are removed from site and downloaded to a PC. A report is then compiled giving written proof of results – copy sent to client.

How often should items be tested?


Tables are provided in the IEE Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment for portable appliances giving indications for both regular inspection of equipment and for the combined formal inspection and testing.


However, the guide continues to indicate that the intervals between testing should be based on usage and the environment in which it is being used.


Generally most portable appliances used in the work environment should be formally inspected and tested every 12 months with records kept to show that the testing has been carried out and indicating full results.


What do you need to do next?


If your appliances have never been tested or were tested over 12 months ago then contact a specialist firm of suitably qualified Electricians, for a cost per item quotation.


The quotation should include all items identified for inspection and testing, and subsequent reporting services.



One Response to “PAT, Portable Appliance Testing Explained”

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