Portable Appliance Testing

PAT is an examination of any equipment which has an electric plug which is connected to the electrical wiring system. From small to large items and those that are transportable or stationary, the item must be tested.

Our Engineers are highly skilled, fast but efficient at completing PAT. The engineers are able to work around sites causing minimal disruption to your operations. This is beneficial due to the amount of electrical appliance and technologies that are around today.

Laws and Regulations


In order to check an appliance it must undergo a series of both inspections and tests, this can vary depending on the type of equipment being assessed. Allied service operatives only use seaward portable appliance test equipment in their roles, seaward is the market leading provider of test equipment, software and presentations.


Section three of the Codes of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment 4th  covers the full requirements that help you, the defining mind meet you legal obligations.


This section reinforces the absolutes surrounding electrical safety in the workplace and details all relevant documents that concern electrical maintenance.


Some of these are:


  • Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
  • Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
  • Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
  • The Housing Act 2004 (England and Wales)
  • The Housing (Scotland) Act 2006
  • The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994


If we take these one by one requirements are as follows:



The Health and Safety at Work Act puts the responsibility on both the employer and the employee to ensure that the workplace is safe for all using the facilities, including sub-contractor or self-employed.



In these regulations, they state that:


Every employer shall make suitable and sufficient assessment of:

  1. The risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed while they are at work, and
  2. The risk to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection by him of his undertaking (regulation 3(1))



These regulations ensure that:


Reg. 4(1): Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is constructed or adapted to be suitable for the purpose for which it is used or provided for.


That they ensure work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.


Where work equipment is exposed to deteriorating conditions liable to result in dangerous situations, it must be inspected to ensure faults are detected in good time so the risk to health and safety is managed.



The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 finally set in place a framework that brought electrical systems in the workplace into a set of rules that could be enforced legally. Within these regulations, it requires precautions to be taken against the risk of death or personal injury from electricity in work activities and that all systems are to maintained. Systems within these requirements are considered anything that carries a current and/or a voltage, so with that in mind everything from 400Kv overhead lines down to the humble 9v square battery comes under the requirements of the regulations.


If we take regulation 4 (1) and 4 (2) below we can see that the duty holder is required to ensure that:


The regulations within the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 that cover the In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment are:


Regulation 4        Systems, work activities and protective equipment

Regulation 5        Strength and capability of electrical equipment

Regulation 6        Adverse or hazardous environments

Regulation 7        Insulation, protection and placing of conductors

Regulation 8        Earthing or other suitable precautions

Regulation 10      Connections

Regulation 12      Means of cutting off the supply and for isolation

Regulation 13      Precautions for work on equipment made dead

Regulation 14      Work on or near live equipment

Regulation 15      Working space, access and lighting

Regulation 16      Persons to be competent to prevent danger and injury


It is important to understand that there are no legal requirements within the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 to keep records, although these can be useful, and the Codes of Practice for the In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment do recommend keeping them. So, be very careful of any company or contractor who try to enforce drawings or records citing any of the absolute regulations laid out in Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, or any Codes of Practice as these sales tactics are more based on commercial pressure than actual legal requirements.



These regulations require that every employer keeps all equipment within the workplace in a safe and well maintained condition.  Programs of maintenance detailing frequency of testing along with rectification work help to keep workplaces and equipment in tip top condition and in many cases, extend the life expectancy of the equipment purchased or being used.


  • The Housing Act 2004 (England and Wales)

In 2006, The Housing Act 2004 came into force bringing huge changes to the way privately rented properties were regulated and assessed for safety. The objective was to ‘provide a safe and healthy environment for any potential occupiers or visitors’. Looking at it from an electrical perspective this covers the requirements for portable appliance testing.


  • The Housing (Scotland) Act 2006

As with The Housing Act 2004 in England, the Scottish Housing Act 2006 covers the same scope and provision as before although some provisions of the ACT do relate to housing rented by local authorities. Unlike The Housing Act 2004 in England and Wales, there are statutory requirements. Chapter 4 of the Act – The ‘repairing’ standard – defines the statutory requirements that should be met by a private landlord. From an electrical perspective, these include the installation, electrical appliances, electrical heating, lighting and the hot water system(s). A landlord must ensure that their property meets the ‘repairing’ standard at the beginning of a new tenancy and whenever the landlord has been made aware of an issue (electrically).



Inside the In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment the types of equipment subjected to testing can be found on page 43. These items are as follows:


  1. Portable Appliances or Equipment (IT, Kettles, Extension leads and chords, anything less than 18kg in weight that can be moved)
  2. Movable Appliances or Equipment with wheels 18kg or less that can be moved – air conditioning units, electric compressors etc.
  3. Hand held appliances or equipment – drills, hair dryers, hedge cutters etc.
  4. Stationary appliances or equipment – vending machines, large printers, forklift truck charging units
  5. Fixed equipment or appliances ** – toilet hand dryers or anything fixed to a switched or unswitched fuse spur.

**Fixed equipment is more complicated to test as it requires the inspector to disturb the fabric of the building, disconnect, test and reconnect. In Allied’s opinion only a qualified electrician should be working on these types of equipment and as a result, one should expect to pay a premium for this service. If you look at your responsibilities as a duty holder to perform suitable due diligence on those working on your site, along with the IET Wiring Regulations definition of competence which states that competence defined as ‘skilled persons (electrically) as a person who possesses, as appropriate to the nature of the electrical work to be undertaken, adequate education, training and practical skills, and who is able to perceive risks and avoid hazards which electricity can create’.


  • PAT gives clients peace of mind that items are in a good working order
  • PAT is a cost-effective service
  • We have engineers spread across the UK and five offices to ensure we are responsive to customer needs.

Added Value

Our engineers are flexible with their work schedule and work evenings and weekends to meet our client’s schedules to make sure that minimal disruption is caused to day-to-day activities.

  • UK wide coverage
  • Minimal disruption
  • Easy access to reports

Tasks/Stages Involved

Before electrically testing an appliance, a visual inspection will be carried out to confirm that the item is safe and fit for purpose.  Your appliance will then be tested and where an appliance fails (and if, after the plug, fuse and flex has been re-examined or exchanged, the retest still records a fail). If the appliance fails, then the appliance will be isolated, plug top removed and the appliance labelled ‘Do Not Use’.

You will be informed of failed items which could be potentially dangerous and a certificate will be distributed to this effect, signed by the engineer and the client representative. Those items that fail the test should be repaired or a new one should be purchased by the client.

Questions & Answers


Fundamentally, to keep you safe.

Everyday use of portable appliances causes wear and damage to leads, plugs and to the appliance. If unnoticed and unfixed, this may lead to an electric shock or fire. Employers and institutions have a legal obligation to guarantee that all electrical appliances used by all occupants are safe, whether this be by staff or visitors.

It’s important to understand that electricity can kill, this being one of the main reasons why we have legislation and regulations. The primary aim is to protect the end user from shock or burn that can occur because of faults or defects in electrical systems. Undertaking portable appliance testing as part of an overall program of electrical safety management is a great way to achieve your goal.



Absolutely not.

In years gone past, many compliance companies would recommend that all portable appliances are tested on an annual basis. This was mainly due to ease, convenience and commercial pressures rather than safety recommendations.  Within the codes of practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment 4th Edition retest dates are removed from test labels as while there are recommended test dates within the book, these retest dates are only there to guide the inspector during his risk based assessment of your equipment.

This was highlighted back in 2012 when The HSE Chair Judith Hacket said, whilst launching the revised guidance on portable appliance testing (PAT); “we know that low-risk companies are being misled over what the law requires when it comes to maintaining portable electrical appliances, and many are paying for testing that is not needed. Businesses are responsible for protecting their employees, but they shouldn’t be wasting their money on unnecessary checks that have no real benefit”

Now this isn’t saying that portable appliance testing isn’t required, what it is say is that when choosing a contractor pick one that offers programs based on risk based assessments rather than blanket 12-month retest frequencies.

It’s not what the contractor tells you that costs you money, it is what they omit at point of sale that catches you out.



If you look in the Codes of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment 4th page 15, it clearly states that the persons with overall responsibility are as follows:


  • Users of electrical equipment (Whose responsibilities include user checks)
  • Duty Holders with responsibilities for electrical maintenance who may not necessarily have detailed technical knowledge
  • The competent person carrying out the formal visual inspection and the inspection and tests
  • Other duty-holders such as company directors, managers or buildings services managers
  • Hirers and suppliers of hired equipment (additional advice can be found on the Trading Standards Institutes website, tradingstandards.gov.uk)


Landlords and property management companies in control of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s)


It depends on the type of appliance and the environment the appliance is used. For example, a power tool that is used on a day-to-day basis on a construction site should be examined more frequently than a TV in a hotel room.


All commercial, industrial and retail environments, and where the buildings are accessible to the public.