Frequently asked questions about PAT testing
Why is it called PAT Testing?
The process of checking appliances is normally called ‘Portable Appliance Testing’ and is abbreviated to ‘PAT Testing’.
As you can probably see, this is actually incorrect – you are actually saying ‘Portable Appliance Testing testing!
If we used the phrase ‘PA testing’ then this would get confused with those who test ‘Public Address (PA) systems such as microphones, speakers and amplifiers.
Therefore, most people in the industry use the phrase PAT Testing as this is common use.
Is PAT Testing a legal requirement?
The legal requirement for maintenance is designed to ensure that equipment remains safe and is given the various pieces of legislation, the 3 most important of which are as follows:
The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
You will note that there is no specific legislative requirement to carry out inspection and testing nor there is no reference to any prescribed frequency or test methods.
Whilst it isn’t a criminal offence to not carry out PAT Testing, a residential landlord would find it difficult to prove due diligence was followed if an incident occured, without a PAT Certificate in place. It falls under Health & Safety legislation. If a fire occurred or someone got hurt, a landlord may have to prove due diligence was met to avoid severe repercussions. Health & Safety law and Criminal law are often misunderstood.
The Electrical Safety Council’s Guidance recommends Portable Appliance Testing to satisfy a Landlord’s obligation to ensure that any portable electrical appliances provided under the tenancy are safe at the point of letting, and at periodic intervals after that. Tenants should also be provided with instruction manuals and be told to read and follow them.
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How often should Equipment be pat tested?
PAT testing was introduced to ensure that all electrical appliances are safely maintained and suitable for the environment in which they are used. This involves periodic planned inspection and testing of portable appliances to meet all required standards and regulations.
The recommended PAT Testing times are as follows, although if you believe there is a problem or chance of a major hazard please retest before use.
Offices, Shops and Hotels – Class 1 equipment including stationary and IT equipment should be tested every 48 months.
Moveable equipment such as extension leads and portable equipment should be tested every 24 months.
Handheld equipment should be tested every 12 months.
Schools – All Class 1 equipment in schools should be PAT tested every 12 months.
Class 2 equipment should be tested every 48 months.
Public Use Equipment – Stationary and IT equipment such as computers should be tested every 12 months.
Moveable, Portable and Handheld equipment falling into Class 2 should be tested every 12 months.
Moveable, Portable and Handheld equipment falling into Class 1 should be tested every 6 months.
Construction – All 110V equipment used on construction sites should be tested every 3 months.
Industrial – All industrial sites, including commercial kitchens should have Portable and Handheld equipment tested every 6 months. Stationary, IT and Moveable equipment should be tested every 12 months.