How often should I carry out PAT testing on my electrical equipment?

Electrical equipment should be visually checked regularly. Equipment should be more thoroughly tested by a competent person often enough that there is little chance that the equipment will become dangerous between tests.  We can offer a one day training course to provide that competence in house giving you flexibility and cost savings.  We often get clients asking for advice when its comes to electrical testing.   From PAT (portable appliance tests) through to building supply inspections it seems that the waters are rather murky and many business people are frustrated by a lack of clear guidance on what they must do rather than what they could do.  This is further complicated by a range of suppliers who all provide information in a way which makes you suspect that their intentions are more commercial than educational.

So what are the facts?

Portable appliances
You should have a scheme of inspection (could be visual) by a person competent to spot the risk issues (not necessarily an electrical engineer). However, you’ll find that pretty much everyone interprets this as having a company carry out portable appliance tests once a year for portable equipment (less often for fixed equipment like photocopiers and more often for equipment in tough environments like workshops or construction).

It is your choice to do otherwise but we’d recommend the above, if you wish to do it in house companies such as ourselves can offer one day training courses to give sufficient competence to operate a tester and carry this task out.

Electrical installations
Typically your insurer will ask to see evidence of inspection and test on a five yearly basis. If you have recently moved into your offices you should be in receipt of a handover certificate which states that the installation was carried out in line with the requirements of the current IEE Regulations (17th Edition) and all is well. Once you get five years beyond this its time to review and you’ll need to get hold of a competent contractor to do this for you (NICEIC for example).

Remember, there can be a lot of power moving through the system hidden behind walls and in risers cupboards, poor connections can be overheating or perhaps sparking leading to fire and major problems. Perhaps have a shop around, a larger contractor with heat sensing camera equipment might actually work out to be better value than having to shut down sections whilst the survey is completed.

In summary, none of this is strict law but it is alluded to in the regulations as being reasonable. The fact that just about everyone else is doing it makes complying your best option in this case.  If you have questions then please contact one of our health & safety consultants by calling us on 01453 800100.

More information on PAT test frequency (for guidance only, make your own assessment through a competent person)

Type of premises

Formal visual inspection

Combined inspection & testing

Offices & Shops

Stationary equipment 24 months 48 months
IT equipment 24 months 48 months
Movable equipment 12 months 24 months
Portable equipment 12 months 24 months
Hand-held equipment 6 months 12 months

Hotels

Stationary equipment 24 months 48 months
IT equipment 24 months 48 months
Movable equipment 12 months 24 months
Portable equipment 12 months 24 months
Hand-held equipment 6 months 12 months

Equipment used by the public

Stationary equipment Monthly 12 months
IT equipment Monthly 12 months
Movable equipment Weekly 6 months
Portable equipment Weekly 6 months
Hand-held equipment Weekly 6 months

Industrial including commercial kitchens

Stationary equipment None 12 months
IT equipment None 12 months
Movable equipment Monthly 6 months
Portable equipment Monthly 6 months
Hand-held equipment Monthly 6 months

Schools

Stationary equipment None 12 months
IT equipment None 12 months
Movable equipment 4 months 12 months
Portable equipment 4 months 12 months
Hand-held equipment 4 months 12 months

Construction sites 110V equipment

Stationary equipment Monthly 3 months
IT equipment Monthly 3 months
Movable equipment Monthly 3 months
Portable equipment Monthly 3 months
Hand-held equipment Monthly 3 months