How Often Should You PAT Test?

Although it isn’t required by law, PAT testing is still important to stay on top of in commercial settings, not least of all because of the insurance implications.

The Electricity At Work Regulations 1989 specify not that appliances have to be PAT tested on a regular basis, but that all portable electrical equipment must be maintained in good condition. This means that there’s no actual legislation that dictates how often you should PAT test appliances.

However, HSE has published guidelines on maintaining portable electrical equipment, which serves as a handy framework to help you decide what level of risk each appliance presents and what that means for how often you should PAT test.

What is portable appliance testing?

PAT testing is the process through which portable electrical appliances and equipment are tested to ensure that they are safe to use.

Most electrical defects can be found through visual examination, but some can only be found through testing – so it is imperative that both visual and testing are both employed to assess the appliance.

Types of equipment that can be PAT tested

Class Traits Example appliance
1 Usually made of metal, have three cables, earth pin, and fuseLabelled with the Class 1 symbol Refrigerators, microwaves, irons, kettles, toasters
2 Usually has a plastic coverLabelled with the Class 2 symbol Hair dryers, televisions, computers, printers
3 Labelled with the Class 3 symbol Laptops, mobile phones, energy saving light bulbs

How often to PAT test

Although there’s no catch-all legislation around PAT testing frequency, there are recommendations for how often different classes of appliances should be tested in different settings to ensure they’re kept in good condition:

PAT testing office equipment

  • Class 1 office equipment including stationary, kitchen appliances, and IT equipment should be tested every 4 years as a minimum
  • Moveable equipment like extension leads should be tested every 2 years
  • Handheld equipment should be tested every 12 months

PAT testing in schools and public buildings

  • All Class 1 equipment (IT equipment) in schools and public buildings should be tested every year
  • Class 2 equipment should be tested every 4 years
  • Moving, portable and handheld equipment that falls into class 2 should be tested every year
  • Moving, portable and handheld equipment falling into class 1 should be tested every 6 months

PAT testing on construction sites

  • All 110V equipment used on construction sites should be tested every 3 months

PAT testing on industrial sites

  • Industrial sites like commercial kitchens should have their portable and handheld equipment tested every 6 months
  • IT, stationary and moveable equipment should be tested every 12 months

The importance of PAT testing

It is imperative that employers, employees and building managers do everything within their power to ensure that their workplaces are safe. This means carrying out PAT testing when it is necessary. Testing can be done by any local company, or alternatively, it is possible to obtain individual certification to perform testing.

Although electrical faults are just one of the potential hazards of the workplace, PAT testing minimises the risk electrical appliances pose and help to create a safer environment for all employees.