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The Comprehensive Guide to Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

Understanding Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)


Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is an essential safety procedure for checking the electrical safety of portable devices in various settings. This practice involves inspecting and testing all types of electrical equipment that can be plugged into a standard electrical outlet. PAT aims to ensure that all such equipment is safe for use and does not pose any electrical hazard.



Importance of PAT


  • Safety Compliance: Ensuring workplace safety and compliance with Health and Safety regulations.

  • Prevention of Electrical Hazards: Identifying and mitigating risks such as electric shocks and fire hazards.

  • Maintaining Equipment Efficiency: Regular PAT helps maintain the efficiency and longevity of electrical appliances.


Legal Requirements and PAT


While PAT is not legally mandated, it is recognised as a reliable method to comply with various health and safety regulations. Employers are obligated under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 to ensure all electrical equipment in the workplace is safe and well-maintained.


Process of Portable Appliance Testing


Step-by-Step Guide


  • User Checks: Regular informal inspections by users to identify visible damage or faults.

  • Visual Inspections: A thorough examination of the appliance, plug, and cable for any signs of wear or damage.

  • PAT Testing: Conduct tests using a PAT testing device to assess insulation resistance, lead polarity, and earth continuity.


Identifying Class I and Class II Equipment


  • Class I Equipment: Requires an earth connection and is generally metal-cased. It includes items like kettles and toasters.

  • Class II Equipment: Known as 'double insulated' and doesn't require an earth connection. Examples include drills and computers.


Frequency of PAT Testing


PAT testing frequency varies based on the type of equipment, its usage, and the environment. High-risk settings or frequently used equipment may require more regular testing.


Who Can Perform PAT Testing?


PAT testing should be done by a competent person, preferably a trained and experienced professional, especially in high-risk environments.


Documentation and Compliance


Although not legally required, maintaining records of PAT tests is highly recommended for proving compliance and ensuring safety.


Incorporating PAT Testing in Business Safety Practices


Businesses should integrate PAT testing into their regular safety procedures to ensure a safe working environment and compliance with safety standards.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)


Can you PAT test with a multimeter?


Carrying out a PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) test using a multimeter is impossible. This is because the voltage provided by a multimeter is too low to perform the complete test required for a thorough PAT test effectively. Utilising a multimeter for a PAT test risks inaccurately passing a faulty appliance, posing a potential danger. To ensure accurate and reliable results, it is recommended to enlist the services of a qualified PAT tester with a professional portable appliance tester designed explicitly for this task.


What equipment requires PAT testing?


Any electrical appliance connected to the mains power supply via a plug should undergo PAT testing. This includes Class I and Class II equipment ranging from office appliances like computers and printers to power tools and kitchen equipment.


How often should PAT testing be conducted?


PAT testing frequency depends on the appliance type and its use environment. Typically, high-risk environments or frequently used appliances require more frequent testing. It's best to consult a PAT testing professional for tailored advice.


Is PAT testing mandatory?


While PAT testing is not mandated by law, it is a widely recognised and effective method of complying with several health and safety regulations. Employers are responsible for ensuring electrical equipment is safe under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.


Who is qualified to perform PAT testing?


Someone with adequate knowledge and experience should conduct PAT testing, ideally someone with specific training in PAT testing. This ensures a comprehensive and safe testing process.


Can I do my own PAT test?


Doing portable appliance testing (PAT) with a good understanding of electrical equipment and the necessary training is advisable. It can pose risks to yourself, your business, and other users. Suppose you need more expertise and knowledge to use and interpret the results from portable appliance testers. In that case, it is strongly recommended that you seek the assistance of a fully qualified and experienced professional in this field. Their expertise will ensure that the testing is conducted properly and that any electrical safety issues are identified and addressed correctly.


What does a PAT test involve?


A PAT test involves a series of checks, including visual inspections, earth continuity tests, insulation resistance tests, and functional checks. These tests are performed using a specialised PAT testing device.


What happens if an appliance fails PAT testing?


If an appliance fails PAT testing, it should be removed from use immediately. The faulty equipment must be repaired or replaced and retested before being returned to service.


Do I need to keep records of PAT testing?


While not legally required, maintaining records of PAT testing is recommended. These records provide proof of compliance with safety regulations and help track appliance maintenance schedules.




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