Common questions about PAT Testing

There is something you should know about Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) Testing;

It is actually not a legal requirement.

It is however a legal requirement to ensure that electricity at work is constantly maintained and deemed fit. PAT testing is a means to prove that these checks have been carried out.

Here are some of the common questions people ask about PAT testing, and should hopefully clarify a few questions you may have yourself.

What is PAT testing?

A portable appliance is any electrical item that can be plugged into an electrical socket and can be moved; examples include computers, extension leads and power tools.

PAT testing is the term used to describe the examination of these electrical items to ensure they are safe to use.

The purpose of a PAT test is to periodically confirm the critical aspects of the electrical integrity of portable appliances, which should be undertaken by a competent person.

What does a PAT test consist of?

A PAT test begins with a visual check looking for:

  • Damaged flexes
  • Damaged plugs or equipment i.e. burn marks, overheating etc.
  • The correctly rated fuse

This is then followed by a series of tests which may include the following checks:

  • Earth leakage
  • Earth bonding continuity
  • Insulation resistance
  • Functional
  • Polarity test

A label is attached to each item showing the asset number, date, when next test is due, and whether it passed or failed.

How often do I have to get my equipment PAT tested?

This all depends on your company’s risk assessment, the amount the equipment is used and the environment it is used in.  The frequency of testing can be aware between three to six months in high risk areas (such as construction sites or damp environments) or annual in low risk situations (such as offices).

Is it compulsory?

The law states that all equipment must be in a safe condition and fit for use; a regular maintenance schedule which includes PAT Testing ensures that equipment is safe and fit for use.

What happens if an item fails a PAT test?

It all depends on the reason for the item failing; small repairs such as loose wiring or replacing fuses can be corrected immediately within a small time period, but larger repairs may require further action.

Do I need to keep records and label appliances tested?

There is no legal requirement to label or keep records of equipment that has been inspected or tested.

However, records and labels can be a useful management tool for monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of the maintenance scheme, and to demonstrate that a scheme exists in light of any incidents or potential claims.

Does PAT testing affect insurance cover?

Insurance companies assume that when giving insurance cover to a business, the owners of that business are complying with all regulations necessary.

An insurance company may reduce, delay or even refuse to pay on a claim for damage if an appliance that has not been tested has caused the damage.

Show commitment to health and safety by providing a member of your organisation the knowledge to successfully test portable appliances in your workplace. We can run in-house PAT Testing training for you; contact us for more information on 01394 389683 or


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