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Why Your Business Needs To PAT Test Its Electricals


As an employer, you are legally responsible for the health and wellbeing of any staff under your care. Of course, the risks can look very different depending on the nature of your industry. The hazards in a factory setting, for example, vary greatly from those in an accountancy firm’s office.

But the point stands that all employees – and any visitors – must receive the same due care and attention when it comes to protecting their safety. And that extends to the testing of any electrical equipment on the premises.

Typically, this is done with a PAT tester, but what exactly is PAT testing? Is it a legal requirement? And why is it so important in the workplace? Read on to find out more.

What is PAT Testing?

PAT stands for portable appliance testing, so adding the word ‘testing’ to the end of the acronym is superfluous but has become common parlance – a bit like how many people use the term ‘PIN number’.

It refers to the assessment of electrical equipment to ensure it is fit for purpose and safe to use. A PAT tester can usually offer an immediate pass or fail verdict, which means multiple appliances can be checked in a short space of time.

Which Items Need to be PAT tested?

PAT testing can be done on a wide range of equipment and hardware, including the likes of power leads, extension leads, plugs, and RCDs (residual current device).

Is PAT testing a Legal Requirement?

According to The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, any appliance or piece of equipment that may cause harm has to be safely maintained. However, those regulations do not state that PAT testing is a legal requirement, nor does it offer guidance on how often it should be done.

As a result, the frequency of PAT testing tends to vary depending on the appliance and the nature of its use.

Why Is It Important For Employers To Carry Out PAT Tests?

If an appliance is not tested, any issues could be missed and this could have grave consequences for all concerned. As the Health and Safety Executive states, electrical injuries can range from shocks and burns to violent muscle spasms that can even cause breaks or dislocations.

If an employee or visitor were to come to such harm as a result of faulty equipment, the impacts could be life-changing in terms of their physical, mental, and financial wellbeing. And the employer could be hit with a major financial penalty in the event of a lawsuit, not to mention serious reputational damage in the eyes of the public. 

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