Understanding PAT Testing Regulations

Did you know that there is technically no legal requirement for you to have the electrical appliances within your workplace, or the residency of your tenants, PAT tested? It’s true; there is no law that insists that it must be undertaken. Things are never as simple as they seem though, because although it isn’t written in stone that a PAT testing company must darken your door once every year, the law does state that every item of electrical equipment must be ‘safe, well maintained and suitable for the purpose for which it is being used’. And the way to ensure that this is the case? PAT testing.

Failing to ensure that your electrical equipment is safe will certainly cost you, with some serious cases facing unlimited fines and jail terms. Without evidence to show that you have kept your electrical equipment maintained and tested imagine the repercussions should an employee or tenant suffer an electric shock, or be injured in a fire caused by an unsafe electrical appliance. The risk simply isn’t worth it.

It is true that many faults with electrical devices can be spotted with simple visual inspection. You can see that the plug for your computer has a crack through its centre, or the obvious burn marks on the cable from your kettle. What you can’t see is what is happening beneath the surface. You can’t see the condition of the wires within the plug itself, or whether the earth wire is doing its job successfully. That is why it is essential that all electrical appliances are tested frequently; there is no other way to stay compliant with the legislation related to PAT testing.

Several sections of legislation correspond to the maintenance of your electrical appliances; let’s consider some of these now:

The Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974

It seems that the UK has gone health and safety mad in recent years, but when it comes to ensuring that electrical appliances are safe this makes perfect sense. Section 2(1) of this particular act informs an employer that it is their responsibility to care for their employees and to keep them safe.

The Electricity at Work Regulations, 1989

Any and every piece of electrical equipment is technically covered by the Electricity at Work Regulations. This legislation is designed to prevent injuries that could be caused from working with electrical appliances. It clearly specifies that all electrical systems must be maintained so as to prevent danger (as far as is reasonably practicable).

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations, 1998 (PUWER)

This final piece of legislation that we will consider is very clear in its instruction that all electrical work equipment must be suitable for its purpose, and maintained to a state of efficient working order and good repair. Any equipment to be used in work should be constructed, or adapted, to be suitable for what it will be used for, and should be used only for operations for which it is deemed to be suitable.

Hopefully you now understand that although PAT testing is not technically a legal requirement, it is something that must be undertaken to ensure the continual safety of you and your employees.

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