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How Often Should Electrical Equipment Be PAT Tested?

Posted in
Date
19/05/2021
how often should electrical equipment be pat tested

PAT testing is a key requirement when it comes to electrical compliance, as well as health and safety more broadly. It’s important that electrical equipment is PAT tested often enough to keep your business compliant and your staff or tenants safe.

But just how often is PAT testing required by law? And how often should PAT testing be carried out based on that? Read on as we provide the answers.

How often is PAT testing required?

The Electricity at Work Regulations (1989) don’t cover how often PAT testing is required. Nor do they specify that PAT testing is a legal requirement. What they do say, however, is that it’s an employer’s responsibility to make sure portable electrical items are well maintained and safe to operate.

Given that PAT testing is the best way of doing so, it’s highly advisable to carry out regular PAT testing on all portable electric items and appliances at your premises. In doing so, items will be given a PAT test certificate which details when the test took place, any recommendations for repair and a date when the next test is due.

It’s worth noting that PAT test certificates don’t have an official expiration date listed. The date for the next test is simply a recommendation, so the certificate doesn’t expire. That said, ignoring recommendations and leaving equipment well past a suitable PAT testing frequency could see you held liable if any issues arise.

How often should PAT testing be carried out?

Because there isn’t a legal requirement to carry out PAT testing per se, many businesses remain unclear on how often electrical equipment should be PAT tested. In truth, it depends on the type of equipment, how often it’s used, and the environment in which it’s being used.

Class one vs class two equipment

Firstly, equipment can be split into class one or class two:

  • Class one appliances rely on an earth connection for protection alongside their basic insulation – including fridges, toasters, microwaves and kettles
  • Class two appliances are equipped with supplementary insulation (double-insulated) – such as computers, photocopiers and power tools

A rough estimate based on these classes alone is that class one appliances need to be tested every four years (48 months), while class two require biannual testing (every 24 months).

Low, medium and high-risk work environments

Secondly you need to consider the risk level involved in different work environments. Some examples include:

  • Offices, retail units and hotels – low risk
  • Schools and hospitals – low to medium risk
  • Industrial buildings (factories and workshops, for instance) – medium risk
  • Gyms – high risk
  • Construction sites – extremely high risk

To give a little context on this, equipment in a low-risk environment may need to be tested every 12 months. This typically shortens to six months for medium-risk sites and 3 months for high risk. Of course, it also depends on the type of equipment (above) and a few other factors (below).

Other factors to consider

Thirdly it is also advised to consider the item’s individual history, including:

  • Any manufacturer’s recommendations – they might say it’s best to get the item tested every six months, for example.
  • How old the item is – Appliances that are several years old may need more frequent testing to keep them safe and fully functional.
  • How often it’s used – Items that are used on a daily basis may need more frequent PAT tests due to wear and tear. That said, appliances that are rarely used will still need PAT testing to ensure they’ve not become unusable or unsafe.
  • Any potential misuse of the item – It can be hard to keep tabs on how employees are using appliances, which is why PAT testing is a must.
  • Whether the item has been repaired or altered – Alterations may heighten the risk of an appliance, meaning it needs testing more often to stay in use.

how often should you pat test

Finding out for sure how often you should PAT test

With so many factors to consider, the frequency of inspection and testing should be determined by a risk assessment completed by a person or company competent in electrical safety. They will take everything above into account on a case-by-case basis. As such, following their recommendations is the best way to ensure that your electrical items are safe.

To be clear, “competent” means they have knowledge of electrical appliances (ideally a qualified electrician) as well as experience working with electrics (ideally performing PAT testing on appliances like yours in a similar environment).

As well as experience and qualifications, some trust factors to look for include:

  • Do they have NICEIC approval?
  • Are they on the Electrical Safety Register?
  • Do they have SafeContractor accreditation?

Why should equipment be PAT tested often enough?

We’ve covered how often PAT testing is required. But you might be wondering whether it matters so much. Even if a qualified electrician says your appliances need to be tested every six months, can’t you just do it every year or two years regardless?

We definitely wouldn’t recommend this negligent approach. How often your appliances need PAT testing isn’t just a period plucked out of thin air. It’s a specific timeframe based on the condition, usage and environment of each item.

Ignoring that is essentially ignoring the safety implications that come with faulty appliances. This includes minor and major electrical shocks, plus the potential of fires breaking out.

PAT testing your equipment

If you’re unsure about how often PAT testing should be done on your electrical equipment, the best advice is to speak to an expert. At Volta Compliance, we have a wealth of experience providing professional PAT testing services to business in Leeds and the surrounding areas.

Our team will provide clear, honest advice about how often PAT testing is required to keep your company compliant and your staff safe. Contact us today to arrange a site visit or to ask any questions about our PAT testing services.

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Richard Carr Volta Compliance
Richard Carr
Managing Director
Richard is the Director of Volta Compliance. He is a fully qualified approved electrician graded with the JIB. Richard has over 20 years electrical experience working on commercial and industrial installations.
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