Understanding the Regulations for Electrical PAT Testing

Property owners or employers trying to make heads or tails out of the Electricity at Work Regulations of 1989 may find themselves stumped by sections related to Portable Appliance Testing, or PAT for short. This section of the regulations requires that property owners take steps to ensure the safety and maintenance of any electrical equipment or appliances that may cause harm. Whilst the regulations put the onus of making sure appliances, such as cooking stoves, or equipment like personal computers be free from safety defects, they do not clearly spell out measures employers or property owners need to take to maintain compliance.

Considering the potential for confusion associated with these regulations, here are some basic facts employers and property owners need to be aware of:

  • The regulations do not set testing timeframes – The regulations require maintenance of equipment in a safe condition. They do not, however, specify how often inspections should be performed. Many employers and property owners, however, test annually to ensure safety and compliance while limiting liability.
  • The regulations do not specify testing requirements – The regulations do not specifically state a certified electrician must perform PAT testing. They do, however, require that the person performing the tests have the right equipment to perform them, the knowledge to do so and the ability to understand test results. With that in mind, many property owners and employers turn to trained electricians to ensure compliance.
  • The regulations are not compulsory – Performing routine PAT testing is not compulsory under the regulations. Even so, should electrical equipment cause injury or other harm, property owners or employers may find themselves facing liability concerns. Considering that concern, it is recommended that electrical equipment and appliances be inspected regularly and maintained properly.

PAT testing may not be compulsory, but compliance is considered important for maintaining a safe workplace. Employers and property owners are strongly urged to routinely inspect all electrical equipment and to work with knowledgeable electricians to obtain inspection reports for machinery that is too complex for simple visual inspections. Routine PAT testing, much like obtaining regular inspections of a building’s electrical systems, can serve to protect people and property from serious hazards, such as shocks and fires.

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