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What is PAT testing and why is it carried out?


Simply put it is the testing of portable and, in some locations, moveable appliances to ensure their safe operation and minimise any risk to the operator or user.

This includes - but not limited to - work tools (240/110v), domestic appliances such as vacuum cleaners, kettles, toasters, microwaves, fridges/freezers, lamps, office equipment including IT, public access equipment such as vending machines.  The list goes on but really if it has a plug attached it should be tested.


Darlington PAT Testing use advanced testing equipment on all tests. All cords and flexes are checked for damage and security and all plugs are checked for damage, wire security and correct fuse rating.  Plugs and fuses are replaced if required.  A record of all items tested will be provided.


Legal Requirements

The legislation of specific relevance to electrical maintenance is the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 puts the duty of care upon both the employer and the employee to ensure the safety of all persons using the work premises. This includes the self employed.


The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states:

Every employer shall make suitable and sufficient assessment of:

     (a) the risks to the health and safety of his employees to            which they are exposed whilst at work, and

     (b) the risks to ensure the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him or his undertaking.


The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states:

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

The PUWER 1998 covers most risks that can result from using work equipment. With respect to risks from electricity, compliance with the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 is likely to achieve compliance with the PUWER 1998.

PUWER 1998 only applies to work equipment used by workers at work. This includes all work equipment (fixed, transportable or portable) connected to a source of electrical energy. PUWER does not apply to fixed installations in a building. The electrical safety of these installations is dealt with only by the Electricity at Work Regulations.


The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 states:

"All systems shall at all times be of such construction as to prevent, so far as reasonably practicable, such danger."

"As may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far as reasonably practicable, such danger."

'System' means an electrical system in which all the electrical equipment is, or may be, electrically connected to a common source of electrical energy and includes such source and such equipment"

"'Electrical Equipment' includes anything used, intended to be used or installed for use, to generate, provide, transmit, transform, rectify, convert, conduct, distribute, control, store, measure or use electrical energy."


Scope of the legislation

It is clear that the combination of the HSW Act 1974, the PUWER 1998 and the EAW Regulations 1989 apply to all electrical equipment used in, or associated with, places of work and that there is a requirement to inspect and test all types of electrical equipment in all work situations.

Landlord Legal Requirements

Anyone who lets residential accommodation (such as houses, flats and bedsits, holiday homes and caravans) as a business activity is required by law to ensure the equipment they supply as part of the tenancy is safe.

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 requires that all mains electrical equipment (cookers, washing machines, kettles, etc), new or second-hand, supplied with the accommodation must be safe. Landlords therefore need to regularly maintain the electrical equipment they supply to ensure it is safe.

The supply of goods occurs at the time of the tenancy contract. It is, therefore, essential that property is checked prior to the tenancy to ensure that all goods supplied are in a safe condition. A record should be made of the goods supplied as part of the tenancy agreement and of checks made on those goods. The record should indicate who carried out the checks and when they did it.

It is strongly advisable to have the equipment checked before the start of each let. It would be good practice to have the equipment checked at regular intervals thereafter. You should obtain and retain test reports detailing the equipment, the tests carried out and the results.

Housing Act 2004 (England and Wales) introduced a new method for assessing risk in residential properties, called the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, to provide a safe and healthy environment for any potential occupiers or visitors. This includes portable electrical equipment and the condition of associated leads and plugs should be taken into account if they are provided as part of a rented dwelling. Portable appliance testing is one method of ensuring that electrical equipment is safe for continued use.

Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 defines the statutory requirements that have to be met by a private landlord and includes the electrical installation and electrical appliances. The landlord must ensure that the property meets the requirements at the start of the tenancy and at all times during the tenancy where the landlord is made aware of possible defects. 

Check our Services page for further Landlord information

Product Recalls

The charity Electrical Safety First say that "The average success rate of an electrical product recall in the UK is just 10-20%. This means that there are potentially millions of recalled electrical items still in UK homes. As most of these products have been recalled because they offer a risk of electric shock or electrical fire, they present a serious risk".  Recent news items have highlighted Indesit and Hotpoint appliances as being recalled with safety concerns but there are many more out there.  Go to our Service page and you will find links to product recall lists and what to do next.

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