A guide to PAT testing in the office

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A guide to PAT testing in the office

Now that staff are returning to offices across the UK, you need to make sure they are returning to a safe and secure environment.

Health and safety in the office is essential, and being proactive will not only help keep staff happy but also reduce the risk of things going wrong. One of the ways you can keep your staff and building safe is by PAT testing your electrical appliances.

This short guide will help you understand more about PAT testing in an office environment, how it works, what you need to test and how often you need to get it done.

What is PAT testing?

PAT testing (also known as portable appliance testing, electrical appliance testing or electrical equipment inspection) is when equipment is tested to make sure it is safe to use.

PAT testing consists of a thorough visual inspection as well as testing the equipment for internal faults. If equipment passes inspection it is safe to use. If it fails it needs to be repaired or replaced.

Why should my business get PAT tested?

PAT testing can help your business in many ways, including:

  • Reducing the risk of fire and electric shocks on the premises
  • Providing health and safety reassurance to staff, visitors, customers and suppliers
  • Validating your insurance in case of an incident
  • Providing an inventory of electrical equipment

Who is responsible for PAT testing?

The employer is ultimately responsible for an employee’s health, safety and well-being when they are in the office, in line with The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974).

The person in the office who arranges PAT testing varies from workplace to workplace. In some places, it may be the office manager, in other places it may be the QHSE representative.

Is PAT testing a legal requirement?

Many people think you have to have PAT testing done by law, but this is not true.

However, UK legislation does state businesses must ensure electrical equipment in the workplace is maintained in a safe condition, to ensure the safety of staff and the public.

PAT testing is the most effective way to do this.

PAT testing and the law

How often do you need to have a PAT test?

The Electricity at Work Regulations (1989) state all electrical equipment that could cause injury is maintained in a safe condition.

The 5th edition In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment code of practice advises 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 and the lifespan of the equipment.

Some equipment may need testing more frequently than others. For example, PC monitors are not subject to the wear and tear that a vacuum cleaner is and as a result, don't need testing as often,

Am I responsible for PAT testing if I am in a rented office?

Yes - you need to make sure that the office is safe for you, as well as for your employees and any visitors.

Some office complexes do provide PAT testing as part of the service they offer to tenants. Check your contract to see if this is the case. 

What needs to be PAT tested?

The phrase ‘PAT testing’ can be misleading, as you need to test electrical items that aren’t portable!

As a general rule of thumb, anything that plugs into the mains should ideally be PAT tested. Items that should be PAT tested in the workplace include, but are not limited to:

In the office

  • Monitor
  • PC unit
  • Laptop
  • Docking stations
  • Phone
  • Printer/photocopier
  • ID badge printer
  • Franking machine
  • Laminator
  • Extension cable
  • Portable electric heater/fan

In the meeting room

  • Television screen
  • Projector

In the kitchen

  • Kettle/water boiler
  • Fridge/freezer
  • Microwave (microwaves need a special additional test to check for radiation leakage)
  • Toaster
  • Toastie maker
  • Coffee machine
  • Dishwasher

In the break-out room/canteen

  • Vending machine
  • Phone charger
  • Water cooler

In the server room

  • IT rack
  • Server
  • IEC cable

In the cleaning cupboard

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Steam cleaner
  • Iron

Do I need to get cleaning equipment PAT tested?

In the toilets

  • Hand dryer
  • Electric towel rail

Electrical installations like sockets and light fittings are tested as part of EICR.

Equipment not covered by PAT testing guidelines includes:

  • Lifts and passenger conveyor systems
  • Medical equipment
  • Equipment that is being maintained under another specialised maintenance process (for example, equipment in an explosive environment)

More information about what needs PAT testing

Do I need to PAT test new equipment?

You don’t need to PAT test new equipment as it should have been supplied to you in a safe condition. Just carry out a quick visual check before you use it.

However, if new equipment has arrived and you are concerned about it (for example, it doesn’t have a BSi kitemark), then an inspection can put your mind at ease.

Does new electrical equipment need PAT testing?

Who is responsible for PAT testing hired equipment?

If you have a piece of equipment like a printer or scanner on hire, and you are hiring it for over a week or more, it is the responsibility of your office to test it alongside your other electric equipment (unless you have come to an agreement with the hiring company).

If you have the equipment on hire for less than a week, you don’t need to get it tested but do carry out visual tests before you use it.

Do I need to get hire equipment PAT tested?

Do I have to get equipment tested that staff have brought in?

Photos of damaged fans

Yes. You can potentially be liable if someone hurts themselves on equipment in your workplace, even if you haven't purchased it. For example, a fan that an employee brings in to keep cool over the summer, or Christmas lights to decorate their desk.

Do I need to shut down my computer/equipment when the PAT testing takes place?

Yes, equipment does need to be turned off while it is being tested, but it only takes a few minutes so it should not be too much of an inconvenience.

If someone's equipment can't be switched off (for example, they're printing out a really long document), then a PAT testing engineer will be able to carry on their testing and come back later.

Did you know we offer evening and weekend testing free of charge? This means we can work on your PAT testing while staff are out of the office, leaving your staff to focus on what they do best!

Do I need to get PAT testing arranged for home workers?

Employees have a duty of care towards their employees, even if they are working from home, This means if you get PAT testing done in the office, you should extend this to home workers too.

There are two ways of carrying out PAT testing for home workers. You can get the engineer to visit them at home or ask your employee to bring their equipment in for testing when they next come into the office.

How to stay safe when working from home

What does a PAT test cost?

As PAT testing is charged per item, it depends on the number of items you have in your office.

We can provide you with a no-obligation quote you can factor into your budget for PAT testing.

How long does a PAT test take?

It depends on how many items need testing as well as the size of the office. For example, an office with multiple rooms over several floors will take longer than one open-plan office.

A PAT testing engineer will work with you to ensure that testing is completed with minimal disruption.

Can I carry out an office PAT test?

PAT tests should be carried out by a ‘competent person’ who has been trained to carry out PAT testing in a safe manner.

Therefore we recommend you don’t carry PAT testing out yourself unless you have undertaken training.

If you are looking for a company to carry out your office PAT testing, Hawkesworth is here to help.

Our experienced network of PAT testers carry out over seven million PAT tests a year, in offices across the country.

We’re one of the most cost-effective PAT testing companies in the UK, with prices that can’t be beat!

Contact us today for your free, no-obligation quote.


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