PAT Testing Info

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Home PAT Testing Frequency

Regular Testing Responsibilities

There are no absolute rules regarding how often an item of electrical equipment should be tested. HSE Guidance Notes advise "regular testing" and this is generally interpreted as a requirement for annual testing. However, circumstances and conditions of use will vary. The competent test person should be able to advise on the frequency of testing resulting from his own experience and discussions with the user or dutyholder (who may be a non-technical person) regarding the "lifestyle" of the equipment.

Personnel responsible for the safe use of electrical equipment, for example contractors, managers of electrical/electronics laboratories (test equipment and tools) office managers (electrical office machines) are each regarded by the Electricity at Work Act as 'dutyholders' and should operate a routine safety testing programme.

Where an employee is permitted to bring his own portable or transportable electrical equipment onto a site or into a Works, that employee under the Health & Safety At Work Act 1979 and Electricity At Work Regulations 1989 has an additional duty in that the equipment is to some extent "within his control". The employer must, however, monitor the employee's provision and use of such equipment and where applicable, must include the items in the schedule of appliances to be tested.

Principle For Frequency Of Testing

The underlying principle for frequency of testing is that the dutyholder (i.e. the person with the equipment "within his control") with the advice of the competent test person when necessary must assess the need for testing the equipment against the following:

  1. Type of equipment (portable, hand held or transportable)
  2. Style of use (continuous, infrequent, rough)
  3. Age of the equipment
  4. If regularly moved or transported and by what means
  5. Type and competence of personnel using the equipment
  6. Environment of usage (outdoors, construction sites, hazardous atmospheres etc).
  7. Results of previous tests
  8. Manufacturer's recommendations
  9. Effect of any modifications or repairs to the equipment

Suggested Initial Frequency Of Inspection And Testing Of Equipment

 

Type Of
Premises
Type Of
Equipment
(Note 1)
User
Checks
(Note 2)
Class I
Class II
(Note 4)
Formal Visual
Inspection
(Note 3)
Combined
Inspection and
Testing (Note 5)
Formal Visual
Inspection
(Note 3)
Combined
Inspection and
Testing (Note 5)
Construction
Sites
110V
equipment
S
IT
M#
P#
H#
None
None
Weekly
Weekly
Weekly
1 month
1 month
1 month
1 month
1 month
3 months
3 months
3 months
3 months
3 months
1 month
1 month
1 month
1 month
1 month
3 months
3 months
3 months
3 months
3 months
Industrial
including
commercial
kitchens
S
IT
M
P
H
Weekly
Weekly
Before Use
Before Use
Before Use
None
None
1 month
1 month
1 month
12 months
12 months
12 months
6 months
6 months
None
None
3 months
3 months
3 months
12 months
12 months
12 months
6 months
6 months
Equipment
used by the
public
S
IT
M
P
H
Note 6+
Note 6+
Note 6+
Note 6+
Note 6+
Monthly
Monthly
Weekly
Weekly
Weekly
12 months
12 months
6 months
6 months
6 months
3 months
3 months
1 month
1 month
1 month
12 months
12 months
12 months
12 months
12 months
Schools
S
IT
M
P
H
Weekly
Weekly
Weekly
Weekly
Before Use
None
None
4 months
4 months
4 months
12 months
12 months
12 months
12 months
12 months
12 months
12 months
3 months
3 months
4 months
48 months
48 months
48 months
48 months
48 months
Hotels
S
IT
M
P
H
None
None
Weekly
Weekly
Before Use
24 months
24 months
12 months
12 months
6 months
48 months
48 months
24 months
24 months
12 months
24 months
24 months
24 months
24 months
6 months
None
None
None
None
None
Offices and
Shops
S
IT
M
P
H
None
None
Weekly
Weekly
Before Use
24 months
24 months
12 months
12 months
6 months
48 months
48 months
24 months
24 months
12 months
24 months
24 months
24 months
24 months
6 months
None
None
None
None
None

Right-click to download a printable version of the above table (Source: IEE Code of Practice).

Note:

  1. S Stationary equipment
    IT Information technology equipment
    M Movable equipment
    P Portable equipment
    H Hand-held equipment
  2. User checks are not recorded unless a fault is found
  3. The formal visual inspection may form part of the combined inspection and tests when they coincide and must be recorded.
  4. If class of equipment is not known, it must be tested as Class I
  5. The results of combined inspections and tests are recorded
  6. For some equipment such as children's rides a daily check may be necessary
  7. (+) By supervisor/teacher/member of staff
  8. # 110V earthed centre tapped supply 230V portable or handheld equipment must be supplied via a 30 mA r.c.d. and the intervals between inspections and tests reduced

The information on suggested initial frequencies above is more detailed and specific than HSE Guidance, but is not considered inconsistent with it.

It must be emphasised that the table is produced for guidance only, and an individual judgement must be made by considering the actual conditions pertaining to any particular situation, in order to assess the hazard and reduce the subsequent risk of electric shock.

For example there is a great deal of equipment used in offices not hand held and the methods of use and the environment in which it is used leads to a lower level of risk than in other sectors such as in industry or construction. There are however types of portable equipment in offices together with their leads and plugs which could result in high levels of risk of electric shock if not inspected and tested and subsequently properly maintained.

Long Term Safety Of Appliances

The requirement is not only to determine the immediate safety of the unit under test but to ascertain so far is reasonably practicable, that the unit will remain safe under the expected conditions of use at least until the next scheduled test date. Such a judgement may rely heavily upon the competence of the test person to offer sound practical advice.

 

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