Useful Information from the HSE
i''VE BEEN TOLD THAT, BY LAW THAT I MUST HAVE MY PORTABLE APPLIANCES TESTED EVERY YEAR. IS THIS CORRECT?
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 require that any electrical equipment that has the potential to cause injury is maintained in a safe condition. However, the Regulations do not specify what needs to be done, by whom or how frequently (ie they don’t make inspection or testing of electrical appliances a legal requirement, nor do they make it a legal requirement to undertake this annually).
HOW FREQUENTLY DO I NEED TO TEST MY ELECTRICAL APPLIANCES?
The frequency of inspection and testing depends upon the type of equipment and the environment it is used in. For example, a power tool used on a construction site should be examined more frequently than a lamp in a hotel bedroom. For guidance on suggested frequencies of inspection and testing, see: Maintaining portable and transportable electrical equipment.
DO I NEED TO KEEP RECORDS OF TESTING AND SHOULD I KEEP RECORDS OF APPLIANCES TESTED?
There is no legal requirement to label equipment that has been inspected or tested, nor is there a requirement to keep records of these activities. However, a record and / or labelling can be a useful management tool for monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of the maintenance scheme – and to demonstrate that a scheme exists.
DO I NEED TO TEST NEW EQUIPMENT?
New equipment should be supplied in a safe condition and not require a formal portable appliance inspection or test. However, a simple visual check is recommended to verify the item is not damaged.
I HAVE BEEN TOLD THAT I NEED TO GET AN ELECTRICIAN TO PERFORM MY PAT TESTING. IS THIS CORRECT?
I RUN A TOOL HIRE BUSINESS. WHAT DO I NEED TO DO AND ARE THERE ADDITIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES FOR THE PERSON HIRING THE EQUIPMENT?
It is strongly recommended that equipment suppliers formally inspect and test the equipment before each hire, in order to ensure it is safe to use. The person hiring the equipment should also take appropriate steps to ensure it remains safe to use throughout the hire period. The question ‘What is portable appliance testing?’ above gives guidance on what this will entail.
IS PORTABLE APPLIANCE TESTING (PAT) COMPULSORY?
No. The law simply requires an employer to ensure that their electrical equipment is maintained in order to prevent danger. It does not say how this should be done or how often. Employers should take a risk-based approach, considering the type of equipment and what it is being used for. If it is used regularly and moved a lot e.g. a floor cleaner or a kettle, testing (along with visual checks) can be an important part of an effective maintenance regime giving employers confidence that they are doing what is necessary to help them meet their legal duties. HSE provides guidance on how to maintain equipment including the use of PAT.