Your guide to PAT testing


Your guide to PAT testing

If you're looking to get PAT testing carried out for your commercial or domestic property, we're here to help.

This article will help you understand what PAT testing means as well as answer your frequently asked questions about what needs to be tested.

What is PAT testing?

PAT testing is when electrical equipment is tested for safety.

This is done through different types of visual and electronic tests.

PAT testing is also known as electrical equipment testing and portable appliance testing.

Is PAT testing a legal requirement?

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 make it your responsibility to make sure all your electrical equipment is safe to use. This means you should regularly inspect, test and maintain electrical appliances to make sure they’re compliant.

If you don’t do this, you could be putting yourself, your employees and your business at risk.

More information about PAT testing and the law

Do I need PAT testing for my insurance?

Some insurance companies ask that businesses have proof of PAT testing in order to prove that the electrical equipment on their premises is in a safe condition. 

If someone is injured or property is damaged as a result of faulty electrical equipment, an insurance company may refuse to accept a claim.

Proof of PAT testing may also reduce your business premiums when it comes to renewal.

What needs testing in a PAT inspection?

Broadly speaking, anything that is plugged into a power source needs to be tested.

This includes everything from the office photocopier and computer monitors, to the kettle and microwave in the kitchen.

'Portable appliance testing' is not entirely accurate, as PAT testing also applies to fixed appliances that can't be moved.

More information about what needs PAT testing

The more unusual things our customers ask us to test!

Can I carry out my own PAT testing?

PAT testing needs to be carried out by a 'competent' person.

Unless you have been trained to operate a PAT testing machine safely and know what to look out for, we would advise that you allow an electrical engineer to carry out testing on your behalf.

Otherwise, you may put yourself or someone else at risk.

How long does a PAT test take?

It depends on how many items need testing. The more items that need testing, the longer PAT testing will take.

The building also plays a part too. An open-plan office will take less time to test than a building with several offices across multiple floors.

How often should I carry out PAT testing?

The 5th edition In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment code of practice recommends that you should carry out a risk assessment to determine how frequently your equipment should be checked.

This will take into consideration:

  • How often the equipment is used
  • The environment it is used in
  • Who is using it
  • The lifespan of the equipment

For example, electrical equipment in a busy factory will need testing more often than computers and monitors in an office.

Many people think that you need to have PAT testing carried out once a year, but this isn't always the case.

What is tested during a PAT inspection?

We carry out a number of tests when we inspect your electrical equipment. The general PAT testing procedure is:

  1. A visual examination – We look for any damage that may cause an appliance to be faulty. Visual checks are extremely important as most fails happen at this stage. Things we look out for include: 
    • Cracks and dents in the product casing
    • Scorch marks and overheating
    • Damage to the leads or plug
    • If the right size fuse has been used
    • Whether the appliance has adequate ventilation
  2. An in-depth inspection and test – This helps us pick up on any damage that may not be immediately visible. It includes:
    • Earth continuity checks (also known as the Earth bond test or Earth resistance test). This check makes sure there is a satisfactory connection between the case of the appliance and the plug's Earth pin. This connection reduces the risk of electric shock when the case is touched
    • Lead polarity checks. This check makes sure that the lead of your appliance is wired correctly
    • Insulation resistance checks. This check makes sure that the insulation around the live parts of the appliance have a high level of resistance
    • With microwave ovens, we carry out an additional leakage test. Microwaves can get damaged over time, causing radiation leakages. If the radiation is above an acceptable level, we would recommend replacing the microwave
  3. Function check - Once we’ve completed these tests, we conduct a function check to ensure that everything works as it should

If there any remedial works that need doing when PAT testing, for example, a fuse needs changing or a plug needs replacing, our engineers will carry this work out as part of the test.

How long does PAT testing last?

It depends. If you have carried out a risk assessment, this will help you determine how long to leave between tests.

When your PAT testing is carried out, we apply a label to your equipment that specifies the date it was tested. This helps you to determine when testing needs to be rescheduled.

When we carry out testing we will suggest a retesting date based on the type of equipment and where it is located, but this is just a recommendation.

Can PAT testing damage equipment?

No - PAT testing won't damage your electrical equipment if it is done correctly. 

What happens after the test?

When we have tested a piece of equipment, there are two different outcomes:

  • Pass - If the equipment passes, we put one of our barcoded labels on it to show that it has passed inspection. You can then use it as normal!
  • Fail - if the equipment fails, we label it and remove it from the office environment so that nobody is tempted to use it. You can then decide if you want to get it repaired or dispose of it safely

What is included in the PAT testing certificate?

When your testing is complete, we will send you a PAT testing certificate that comes in two parts.

The first part of the certificate looks like this. This is a summary of your testing, which shows you are compliant.

Certificate of compliance - PAT testing
The PAT test certificate will include the address that the electrical equipment testing took place at and how long the certification is valid.

How long the certificate is valid for depends on what is being tested and the environment it is tested in. For example, heavy-duty manufacturing equipment in a busy factory will need re-testing sooner than IT equipment in an office.

The PAT test certificate will also have an authorised signature from the company that carried out the testing.

The second part of the certificate lists the equipment that has been checked, broken down by room or area. 

Electrical equipment testing report

  • All equipment is given a reference number. At Hawkesworth, this reference number is on each individual label too for easy identification
  • The test date for each piece of equipment is listed, alongside a recommended retest date
  • The name of the engineer who tested each piece of equipment will be supplied
  • The report will list which equipment has passed inspection and what has failed inspection.

At Hawkesworth, we provide photos of what has failed inspection so you can see for yourself why any equipment is no longer compliant. For example, this photo of a plug that failed as the cable had melted.

Example of a melted cable
Many of our customers find the photos useful as they can use them to train their staff how to look out for dangerous equipment in the future!

What does a PAT testing certificate prove?

This certificate shows your business is compliant with regulations including the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Electricity at Work Regulations (1989).

What can you do with a PAT testing certificate?

  • If your business has public liability insurance, your insurance company may request a copy of your certificate to show your electrical equipment is safe
  • You can include a copy of your certificate in any tender applications to show your company’s commitment to health & safety
  • If you have a certification file at reception, you can include your certificate in there to show visitors you operate safely
  • If you are a landlord, having a certificate to show to interested tenants is an excellent way to demonstrate the electrical equipment you provide (for example fridges and microwaves) works and is safe

How much does PAT testing cost?

It depends on how many units need to be inspected, as well as the needs of your business.

When you reach out to us, let us know roughly how many units will need to be tested. We can then provide you with a quote based on this number. 

We offer competitive rates so if you are interested in a free no-obligation quote, get in touch with us today.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you be compliant when it comes to electrical equipment.

>> A guide to EICR for landlords