Pat testing or portable appliance testing is an important part of any health & safety policy.

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 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.

Portable Appliance Testing

The Inspection and tests that are to be carried out are described below, with tests varying dependant upon the class of appliance. However, the testing of all appliances is essential as part regular maintenance to ensure conformity to Electricity at Work Regulations.


Without passing the initial inspection, no appliance can be passed as safe. The inspection involves examination of the plug top, lead and the casing of the equipment. The plug top is checked for the correct fuse size, adequate cord grip, correct polarity and tightness of terminations, cracking, heat damage and a plug with insulating pins conforming to current BS standards. The casing of equipment is checked for any visual damage or cracks and any holes or vents that are apparent must not have a radius greater than 6mm.


Current legislation demands that employers ensure portable appliances are safe.

Here are a selection of some of the current relevant regulations.

Electricity At Work Act 1989

  • To meet the requirements of the 1989 "electricity at work regulations it is widely regarded to be necessary to implement a programmed of planned inspection and testing of portable appliances,

  • As may be nessesary to prevent danger all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent so far as is reasonably practicable such danger.

Provisions & Use Of Work Equipment Regulations 1992

  • Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficent working order and in good repair.

Provisions & Use Of Work Equipment Regulations 1998

  • Every employer shall ensure that the result of an inspection made under this regulation is recorded and kept until the next inspection under this regulations is recorded.

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