Portable Appliance Testing - PAT - Law
Some Relevant Legislation
Why a you need Portable Appliance Testing carried out to stay within the law.
It is a legal requirement that electrical equipment in either the workplace or, in
the case of any landlord or company-supplied electrical equipment in rented accommodation, holiday lets or
residential care homes etc. are, in simple terms, 'safe, well-maintained and suitable for the purpose
for which it is being used' - at all times.
The only way that we can determine whether electrical equipment is 'safe, well-maintained and
suitable for the purpose for which it is being used' (the legal requirement),
is if it is routinely, formally visually inspected and instrument tested ('PAT Tested'). Therefore, PAT Testing is
implicit in the need to ensure that such equipment, at the time of the inspection and testing at least, is indeed
'safe, well-maintained and suitable for the purpose for which it is being used'.
The penalties for non-compliance can be severe: in certain cases, unlimited fines and
imprisonment, not to mention the harm done to someone in the event of a serious electric shock, or the
damage done to property in the case of a fire (more than 2,500 people are either killed or injured as a result of
electrical fires in the UK every year, and more than thirty people are directly killed by electric shock).
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 Number 635 Part II
Regulation 4 - Systems, work activities and protective equipment:
(1) "All systems shall at all times be of such construction as to prevent, so far as is reasonably
(2) "As may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far
as is reasonably practicable, such danger."
(3) "Every work activity, including operation, use and maintenance of a system and work near a
system, shall be carried out in such a manner as not to give rise, so far as is reasonably practicable, to
(4) "Any equipment provided under these Regulations for the purpose of protecting persons at work on
or near electrical equipment shall be suitable for the use for which it is provided, be maintained in a condition
suitable for that use, and be properly used."
This means that employers, (and the self-employed), must ensure that all electrical work
equipment is safe, suitable for the purpose and properly maintained in good order.
The scope of the legislation covers everything from small portable equipment e.g. hand
drills to fixed 400 kV distribution systems. The requirements apply to fixed and "hard-wired" electrical appliances
(or equipment), such as hand driers in washrooms or ovens in commercial kitchens, in addition to portable and
hand-held appliances which plug-in, such as drills or vacuum cleaners, both single and three phase. Different
inspection and maintenance regimes are recommended for fixed electrical installations and portable electrical
Note that the term "portable equipment" encompasses the following categories of appliance:
- S - Stationary equipment e,g. refrigerator or washing machine.
- IT - Information technology equipment e.g. computer, printer, monitor or
- M - Movable equipment 18 kg or less in mass and not fixed e.g. electric fire or small
- P - Portable equipment 18 kg or less intended to be moved while in operation e.g.
toaster, food mixer, kettle.
- H - Hand-held equipment intended to be held in the hand during normal use e.g.
hairdryer or power drill.
The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974
Section 2 - General duties of employers to their employees.
(1) "It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable,
the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees."
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of an employer’s duty under the
preceding subsection, the matters to which that duty extends include in particular :-
(a) "the provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work that are,
so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health;"
The UK Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)
"Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is so constructed or adopted as to be suitable for the
purpose for which it is used or provided."
"Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient
state, in efficient working order and in good repair."
"Every employer shall ensure that where any machinery has a maintenance log,
the log is kept up to date."