Q: What does the law say about Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)?
A: You must maintain electrical equipment if it can cause danger, but the law* does not say how you must do this or how often. You should decide the level of maintenance needed according to the risk of an item becoming faulty, and how the equipment is constructed. You should consider:
■ the increased risk if the equipment isn’t used correctly, isn’t suitable for the job, or is used in a harsh environment; and
■ if the item is not double insulated, for example some kettles are earthed but some pieces of hand-held equipment, such as hairdryers, are usually double insulated. This includes any electrical equipment your employees use at work, whether it is their own or supplied by you. You have a joint responsibility to maintain any equipment used by your employees that is either leased (eg a photocopier) or provided by a contractor (but not equipment both provided and used by a contractor). You will need to check periodically if any work needs doing. How you do this depends on the type of equipment
* Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 Click here for more information
Q: Does every electrical item need a PAT?
A: In some cases, a simple user check and visual inspection is enough, eg checking for loose cables or signs of fire damage and, if possible, checking inside the plug for internal damage, bare wires and the correct fuse. Other equipment, eg a floor cleaner or kettle, may need a portable appliance test, but not necessarily every year.
Q: How can you determine what needs testing and the frequency?
A: See the HSE's leaflet Maintaining portable electric equipment in low-risk environments or contact us for advice
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