Portable Appliance Testing / PAT Testing

Who / Where?

We offer PAT Testing services in the Dundee area, to small businesses, landlords/letting agencies, etc, that need to have electrical equipment inspected for safety (PAT tested) as part of their legal or contractual responsibilities to their employers, customers, and tenants.

Why? I heard it's not a legal requirement.

There are no laws that specifically refer to PAT Testing by name. However, you may be required, by law, to comply with various electrical safety regulations. You may also be required contractually to comply with them too. PAT Testing is one of the most recognised ways of achieving this compliance, and identifying if maintenance of any electrical items is required.

Specifically, regulations require you to do everything "reasonably practicable" to protect people from harm. Employers, landlords (in Scotland), shop owners, venue owners, etc, have a duty of care to their employees, tenants, customers, and also to the public and anyone visiting their premises. As part of this duty of care, it is either legally required (e.g. for landlords and employers), contractually required (e.g. terms and conditions of insurance), or recommended (best practices) to ensure that all electrical equipment that people could be exposed to is regularly checked and tested by a competent person. The Electricity at Work Regulations (1989) apply to all aspects of the use of electricity within the workplace and places duties on employers, employees and the self-employed to prevent danger.

When it comes to the sale of second-hand electrical items, the law is just as strict for selling new items as it is for old. The seller is responsible for ensuring such items meet legal safety requirements, and should comply with the Plugs and Sockets etc (Safety) Regulations 1994 and the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994.

Insurance companies usually assume that you are in compliance with all necessary electrical safety regulations. They may refuse, reduce, or delay to pay a claim if they suspect that the cause was an appliance that had not been regularly tested.

You may be liable for prosecution, and may have to pay compensation, if an unsafe electrical item that you are responsible for causes injury or damage.

What should be PAT Tested?

The latest 5th Edition of the IET Code of Practice for In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment clarifies what should be inspected and tested by removing ambiguous words like "portable" and "appliance". It now just refers to "electrical equipment".

The Electricity at Work Regulations (1989) defines electrical equipment as every type of electrical equipment from a high-voltage transmission overhead power line to a battery-powered hand lamp. The main criteria for testing is whether danger may arise.

In short, anything electrical (battery or mains powered), used at work or for work, that is not covered under some other recognised standards or processes, where danger may arise, should be formerly inspected and/or tested.

Examples of items that should be PAT Tested include televisions, vending machines, dishwashers, washing machines, lamps, electric hedge trimmers, blenders, electric lawn mowers, kettles, games consoles, even TV Remotes, and so on. Additionally, all power cables, extension leads, plugs, and anything connected between the item and a wall socket are also included in a PAT Testing visit.

What happens if an item fails a PAT Test?

The item should be taken out of service until it can be made safe or replaced. Some minor, but common, issues can be repaired by ourselves for free, including plug rewiring, damaged plug replacement, lead repair, and fuse issues. In these cases, the item will also be retested free of charge.

If the item can't be repaired to a safe state by ourselves, then the Duty Holder (person responsible for the safety of the electrical items) will be informed, and advised on the best course of action to take.

How often?

This depends on the various factors. Annual testing is the sensible de facto standard, as this helps with insurance liabilities and provides peace of mind. But it really depends on a risk assessment of the equipment that includes the type of electrical item, the environment where it is being used, who it is being used by, its condition, etc. For example, we would recommend that an electrical saw used on a building site be tested more frequently, as both the saw itself, the environment that it is being used, and the frequency of use, all increase the overall risk. Whereas a small low voltage LCD TV semi-permanently installed at ceiling height, out of reach and rarely touched, would require less frequent testing.

How much does PAT Testing cost?

We try to charge less than other companies. Please see our rates page for further details.

What is involved? How long does it take?

Typically, an item being tested will have various visual checks performed (e.g. socket, plug, switch, cable, body), the plug will then be examined and opened to check the wiring and fuse rating, before reassembling. It will then be plugged into a specialist tester, which will perform the series of tests for that class of electrical appliance. The full results of the test will be interpreted to ensure the item does not fail any relevant electrical safety limits (a Pass or Fail result from the tester is not final). A risk assessment of the item will be performed and recorded. A photograph of the item and the full test results are also recorded. Finally, a Pass or Fail sticker will be filled out and applied to the item. To do all of this carefully and thoroughly usually takes around 5 minutes per item, on average, but it highly depends on the item being tested.

Note, that it is common for the number of items to be underestimated. For example, if the power cord is removeable, that must be tested separately. If it's plugged into an extension lead, that also must be tested separately. A typical computer setup may include a PC, PC power lead, Monitor, Monitor power supply/lead, printer, printer power supply/lead, 4 way extension lead - 7 items total.

What is included?

Our PAT Testing service includes:

What are the risks?

The modern high-quality PAT Testers and testing equipment we use are designed in way as to not damage any equipment they're connected to. This, combined with the training, experience, and expertise of the operator, means that the risks should be the same as those encountered when simply unplugging and plugging back in the item being tested.

Of course, accidents can happen to anyone, so we're also fully insured, just in case.