Electrical Safety First is a UK charity that is dedicated to reducing deaths and injuries caused by electrical accidents. It has produced a guide to portable and stationary appliance testing in private rented accommodation which is aimed at landlords and those acting for them such as managing agents.
The guide says that you must maintain electrical equipment if it can cause danger. This means that landlords must repair and keep in proper working order the electrical installation together with any equipment that they provide. However, what the law does not say is how this should be done and how often. The law is different in Scotland, but regardless of where a rented property is situated within the United Kingdom, it is necessary for a landlord or an agent acting on their behalf to implement means of regularly inspecting and, where appropriate testing, and where required maintaining, any supplied electrical equipment.
Persons carrying out inspection and testing of portable or stationary electrical equipment must be able to identify the construction class of the equipment to determine what electrical testing, if any, is appropriate. There are four recognised construction classes for electrical equipment – Class 0, Class1, Class 2, and Class 3. Class 0 is not permitted in the UK.
Examples of Class 1 equipment are domestic white goods, home laundry equipment, and certain kitchen appliances. Examples of Class 2 equipment are hair dryers, home internet equipment, power supply units for telephones, and some table lamps. Class 3 examples are mobile phones, laptops, and low energy light bulbs.
A properly conducted visual inspection, sometimes referred to as a formal inspection, carried out by a suitably competent person is the most important factor in determining whether (or not) an item of portable equipment remains safe for continued use. As an example, if there is a plug with a removable cover it should be removed, and the wiring connection checked, and the fuse checked to ensure it is the correct type and voltage.
As regards the competency of persons carrying out appliance inspection and testing, there are a number of examination bodies including City and Guilds and EAL who offer qualifications addressed at both those carrying out the inspection and testing of appliances and those responsible for overseeing such activities.
The guide covers the frequency of inspection and testing, test instruments, labelling of items inspected, record keeping, and making decisions about whether to repair, replace, or discard an item. You can read the full guide here: