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PAT Testing

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PAT testing or portable appliance testing is an important part of any health & safety policy. This page is intended as a guide to both the legal implications and to the technical requirements.

The Health & Safety Executive states that many reportable electrical accidents involve portable appliances. The Electricity at Work Regulations place a legal responsibility on employers, employees and self-employed persons to comply with the provisions of the regulations and take reasonably practicable steps to ensure that no danger results from the use of such equipment. This in effect requires the implementation of a systematic and regular program of maintenance, inspection and testing. The Health & Safety at Work Act (1974) places such an obligation in the following circumstances:

1. Where appliances are used by employees.
2. Where the public may use appliances in establishments such as hospitals, schools, hotels, shops etc.
3. Where appliances are supplied or hired.
4. Where appliances are repaired or serviced.

The level of inspection and testing required is dependant upon the risk of the appliance becoming faulty, which is in turn dependant upon the type of appliance, the nature of its use and the environment in which it is used.

The Institution of Electrical Engineers publish the "Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment" (ISBN: 0-85296-776-4) . This guide forms the basis for portable appliance testing in the U.K.

Electrical testing should be performed by a person who is competent in the safe use of the test equipment and who knows how to interpret the test results obtained. This person must be capable of inspecting the equipment and, where necessary, dismantling it to check the cable connections.

If equipment is permanently connected to the fixed installation, e.g. by a flex outlet or other accessory, the accessory will need to be detached from its box or enclosure so that the connections can be inspected. Such work should only be carried out by a competent person.

Portable Appliance Testing - Introduction

The Health & Safety Executive states that 25% of all reportable electrical accidents involve portable appliances. The Electricity at Work Regulations place a legal responsibility on employers, employees and self-employed persons to comply with the provisions of the regulations and take reasonably practicable steps to ensure that no danger results from the use of such equipment. This in effect requires the implementation of a systematic and regular program of maintenance, inspection and testing. The Health & Safety at Work Act (1974) places a clear responsibility on both occupiers of premises and employers to ensure that the workplace is maintained in a safe condition to protect employees, visitors, trainees, guests and cleaners from danger.

Portable Appliance Testing - Who is responsible

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) requires, every employer to ensure that work equipment is suitable for the purpose for which it is provided, only used in the place and under the provisions for which it is provided. It also requires every employer to ensure work equipment be efficiently maintained and kept fit and suitable for its intended purpose. It must not be allowed to deteriorate in function or performance to such a level that it puts people at risk. This means that regular, routine and planned maintenance regimes must be considered if hazardous problems can arise.Regulation 3 of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 recognises a responsibility that employers and many employees have for electrical systems."It shall be the duty of every employer and self employed person to comply with the provisions of the Regulations in as far as they relate to matters which are within his control.It shall be the duty of every employee while at work:(a) to co-operate with his employer so far as is necessary to enable and duty placed on that employer by the provision of the Regulations to be complied with: and(b) to comply with the provision of these regulations in so far as they relate to matters which are within his control".

Portable Appliance Testing - Types of Appliance

For the purpose of the legislation a portable electrical appliance is taken to be an item of equipment which is not part of a fixed installation but is, or is intended to be, connected to a fixed installation, or a generator, by means of a flexible cable and a plug and socket. This basically means that any item with a plug is a Portable Appliance. This would include electric drills, kettles, PCs, printers, monitors, extension leads and even some large items such as vending machines are classed as portable.


Southwest Test carry out Portable Appliance Testing all over Dumfriesshire and Cumbria, and in and around Dumfries, Lockerbie, Annan, Carlisle, Moffat, Thornhill, Castle Douglas, Dalbeattie, Gretna, Gatehouse of Fleet, Kirkconnel, Kirkcudbright, Langholm, Lochmaben, Newton Stewart, Sanquhar, Stranraer, Wigtown, Aspatria, Brampton, Cockermouth, Longtown, Maryport, Penrith, Silloth, Whitehaven, Wigton and Workington.


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