What is PAT Testing and how does it affect my business?

What is PAT Testing? 

Portable Appliance Testing, more commonly known as PAT Testing, is a series of inspections that assess the quality of your portable electrical equipment.

How is PAT Testing different to EET?

Electrical Equipment Testing (EET) is overall testing which is split between PAT and Fixed Appliance Testing (FAT). FAT Testing is a series of inspections carried out on your built-in appliances – such as boilers, dishwashers, refrigerators, hand-dryers, air conditioning units etc. – and requires a different set of skills to PAT Testing.

Why is PAT Testing important?

PAT Testing is a clear indicator that your people are safe when they’re handling electrical equipment at work. Everyday wear and tear can lead to damage and an increased risk of fire or electrical shocks, so it’s crucial all your electrical equipment is regularly checked, and PAT Tested.

Is PAT Testing a legal requirement?

Managing your electrical equipment is a legal must. Under the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, you’re legally required to make sure that any risks that stem from work-related activities are assessed and managed – and that includes, of course, your portable electrical equipment.

Your electrical safety responsibilities don’t stop there. As an employer, you’re governed by the Electricity at Work Regulations 1998 to make sure that any electrical equipment that could cause harm or injury is maintained in a safe condition.

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What is involved in a PAT Test?

There are two aspects to PAT Testing that can establish if an appliance or piece of electrical equipment is safe to use. The first method is by checking the equipment visually, and the second method is by testing its operation – both of which should be carried out by a qualified engineer.

What items need PAT Testing? 

All portable electrical appliances that can be moved when in use or can be easily moved from one place to another – i.e., a laptop, phone, kettle, toaster, power tool or vacuum cleaner – must be PAT Tested.

Larger items like printers and photocopiers are also classed as portable electrical appliances because they’re not permanently wired into your electrical system, so they too need PAT Testing.

There are two main factors which determine whether or not an item should be PAT tested:

  • The electrical ‘class’ of the item
  • The ‘category’ of the item

What are Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 appliances for PAT Testing?

Appliance ClassDescription
Class 1 appliancesThese have basic insulation and rely on an earth for protection, so therefore need a full PAT Test. Examples of Class 1 appliances include (but are not limited to): refrigerators, microwaves, and toasters.
Class 2 appliancesThese have two layers of insulation and therefore need a PAT Insulation Test. Examples of Class 2 appliances include (but are not limited to): computers, photocopiers, and most plastic power tools.
Class 3 appliancesThese don’t need to be PAT Tested at all because they require a lower level of voltage. Examples of Class 3 appliances include (but are not limited to): torches, cameras, and mobile phone chargers.

How often should PAT Testing be done?  

There are several factors that determine how often you should conduct your PAT Testing, including: the industry your business falls under, the type of electrical appliance, and how often it’s used.

For sector-specific recommendations, see the chart below.

SectorFrequency
Shops / offices / hotelsClass 1 equipment such as stationery and IT equipment should be tested every four years. Moveable equipment like extension leads and hard drives should be tested every two years and handheld equipment should be tested every 12 months.
Schools / college/ universities All Class 1 equipment in education settings should be PAT Tested annually and Class 2 equipment should be tested every four years.
Hospital and healthcare settingsHealthcare settings are expected to maintain any electrical equipment if it can cause harm or danger. Although the law does not specify how often settings are expected to carry out electrical testing, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) states that ‘providers should decide what level of maintenance is needed according to the risk of an item becoming faulty, and how equipment is made.’
Industrial settings Occupants are often working to tight schedules and regularly use a wide variety of appliances, so there’s an increased risk of accidents and damage. All 110V equipment used on sites should be PAT Tested every three months.
Construction sites The tough and sometimes chaotic environment of construction sites, plus the frequent use of handheld tools, means they are exceptionally high-risk environments. Like industrial buildings, all 110V equipment used on sites need to be tested every three months.

Who can do PAT Testing? Do you have to be qualified to PAT Test?

To ensure your PAT Test is carried out properly and meets electrical safety standards, you need to appoint a qualified engineer like ours here at Citation Fire & Electrical who you  can trust with the safety of your business.

When working with a compliance provider, you want to make sure they’re accredited by British safety bodies like NICEIC and NAPIT for example, and they invest in regular training and auditing, so you know you’re in safe hands. We understand that you’ll naturally compare the price of a PAT Testing service from a recognised, accredited service provider to one that isn’t – but is it worth taking the risk? The answer is no.

It’s important you do your research when scouting for an engineer to carry out your PAT Tests. Along with outlining the , we recommend you search for a competent person who holds:

  • In-depth knowledge and experience in carrying out PAT Testing
  • The correct equipment to conduct the checks
  • Experience using the testing equipment
  • The ability to interpret the test results

How to prepare for a PAT Test?

Preparing for a PAT Test may feel daunting but if you regularly check your electricals for any wear and tear, your PAT Test should run smoothly. To help maintain your electrical equipment in-between PAT tests, there are some key things you need to look out for:

  • Damage to cables and plugs
  • Evidence of unsuitable operating conditions e.g., the presence of water
  • Damage or faults to the equipment
  • Evidence of overheating or discolouration
  • Problems arising from the equipment in use

By spotting any of the above faults or defects, you can act quickly and discontinue using the item, so you and your employees stay safe from potential burns or electric shock.

You must never wait for your next PAT Test to discontinue using a damaged piece of equipment because you’re not only putting people in danger, but you’re also putting your business at risk of facing serious legal action.

If you spot any signs of damage to larger or more essential pieces of electrical equipment that needs immediate attention, we strongly recommend getting in touch with our team.

How do I keep a record of my PAT Test results?

Keeping a record of all your testing is essential to maintaining the required standard of electrical safety in the workplace. A key part of record-keeping is labelling. Each tested appliance should be appropriately marked to record the examination date and the result of the test (pass or fail). The due date for the next test should be decided by the duty holder as part of the general risk assessment.

What happens if a PAT Test fails?

If one of your items fails its PAT Test, that means that the item is unsafe to use in its current condition and you’ll need clarity on why it failed. If the item needs small repairs such as fuse replacements or loose wiring this can be corrected on the spot, but larger repairs would need further action.

There are a few reasons why an electrical item might fail its PAT Test – such as:

  • Incorrect fitted fuse
  • Cracked or damaged plug
  • Non-insulated live and neutral pins on plugs
  • Damaged flex and/or cable
  • The plug’s earth pins are only partially insulated Your qualified service provider must inform you if your equipment has failed its PAT Test and they should provide written proof in the form of a label to stick onto the electrical item, so you know it’s not safe to use.

How Citation Fire & Electrical can help?

As a fire and electrical compliance company, it’s our duty to ensure businesses across the UK are operating as safely and compliantly as possible.

We know that PAT Testing falls under the umbrella of electrical safety and compliance, which is why we’re proud to be a NAPIT-registered company. Each of our engineers hold a NICEIC qualification, regularly undergo an audit process, and are CRB-checked so they can complete electrical testing and servicing to meet safety standards.

But it doesn’t stop there. Our multi-skilled engineers are also qualified to carry out your Fixed Wire Testing, provide you with an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR), and perform Fixed Appliance Testing (FAT), so all your electrical equipment can stay up to scratch.

To get in touch with our team to see how we can support your business, click here.

Related Resources

Health and Safety Policy

Manufacturing: How compliant are you with your PAT and Fixed Wire Testing?

Fixed Wire Testing service

PAT testing when homeworking

PAT Testing legal requirements

Is PAT Testing a legal requirement?