PAT Testing Advice for Landlords
This is an often overlooked electrical safety test, but a critical one nonetheless. Conforming to PAT testing regulations will help you to ensure that the portable appliances in your properties are safe. PAT testing legislation came into effect to ensure that all companies conform to the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974, Electricity at Work Regulations of 1989, Provision and Use of Work Equipment regulations of 1998 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work regulations of 1999.
What is portable appliance testing?
Portable appliance testing (PAT) is the term used to describe the examination of electrical appliances and equipment to ensure they are safe to use. Most electrical safety defects can be found by visual examination but some types of defect can only be found by testing. However, it is essential to understand that visual examination is an essential part of the process because some types of electrical safety defect can't be detected by testing alone.
I have been told that by law I must have PAT testing carried out every year, Is the correct?
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 require that any electrical equipment that has the potential to cause injury is maintained in a safe condition. However, the Regulations do not specify what needs to be done, by whom or how frequently (ie they don't make inspection or testing of electrical appliances a legal requirement, nor do they make it a legal requirement to undertake this annually).
How frequently do I need to test my appliances?
The frequency of inspection and testing depends upon the type of equipment and the environment it is used in. For example, a power tool used on a construction site should be examined more frequently than a lamp in a bedroom.
Do I need to keep records testing and should I label any appliances that have been tested?
There is no legal requirement to label equipment that has been inspected or tested, nor is there a requirement to keep records of these activities. However, a record and / or labelling can be a useful management tool for monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of the maintenance scheme – and to demonstrate that a scheme exists.
Do I need to test new appliances?
New equipment should be supplied in a safe condition and not require a formal portable appliance inspection or test. However, a simple visual check is recommended to verify the item is not damaged.
I have been told that I need to get an Electrician in to do PAT testing. Is this correct?
The person doing testing work needs to competent to do it. In many low-risk environments, a sensible (competent) member of staff can undertake visual inspections if they have enough knowledge and training. However, when undertaking combined inspection and testing, a greater level of knowledge and experience is needed, and the person will need:
- the right equipment to do the tests
- the ability to use this test equipment properly
- the ability to properly understand the test results
Is PAT testing compulsory?
No. The law simply requires an employer to ensure that their electrical equipment is maintained in order to prevent danger. It does not say how this should be done or how often. Landlords should take a risk-based approach, considering the type of equipment and what it is being used for. If it is used regularly and moved a lot e.g. a floor cleaner or a kettle, testing (along with visual checks) can be an important part of an effective maintenance regime giving tenants confidence that they are doing what is necessary to help them meet their legal duties. HSE provides guidance on how to maintain equipment including the use of PAT.
What are the exceptions to PAT testing if any?
As with all laws and regulations there will be local and national variations to that stated above. It is advised to contact your local council and seek information from them for specific details.