Portable appliance use is widespread across all industries, from a small-scale office to a large construction site. There is a clear business need for expertise in how often and how much Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is necessary; to gain the benefit of that equipment while avoiding unnecessary cost.

In this blog we will bust the top 9 PAT testing myths:

1. Do all portable appliances need pat testing?

Battery operated, extra low voltage (less than 50 V ac) or double insulated equipment does not require pat testing.

2. Does PAT testing need to be conducted annually?

The HSE recommends that the inspection frequency depends upon the type of equipment and the environment it’s used in.

The HSE advises that portable equipment is visually inspected either every six months or up to every four years, depending on the type of equipment. Equipment that is not double insulated should have a PAT test either after one or up to five years. However, power tools on a construction site may require testing as frequently as monthly and equipment used in industrial environments may require 6 – 12 monthly testing.

3. Who can conduct PAT testing?

What the law does not require, is the person carrying out a PAT test to be someone with the sort of qualification that would be necessary for repair, namely an electrician. What is important is the tester having the right equipment and enough knowledge to undertake the test and understand and interpret the results. It is the employer’s duty to make sure that the tester is competent.

4. Testing the tester

Often, people tend to forget that the PAT Testing equipment itself needs maintaining too. If it is your own PAT Testing equipment, it should be calibrated on an annual basis and, again, this needs to be done by a competent person.

5. Labelling requirements

The use of PAT testing labels on each piece of equipment tested is not a legal requirement however it is advisable for effective management of the maintenance process.

6. New equipment

If you’ve bought brand new electrical equipment, it doesn’t need PAT Testing for the first two years – unless, of course, your visual checks flag any concerns. The only exception to this would be portable electrical equipment used on construction sites.

7. It’s one or the other

A common misconception is that visual checks aren’t needed if you’re up-to-date with your PAT Testing – nope, that’s not right. Visual electric checks play an important role in the day-to-day maintenance of your electrical appliances, and employees should be encouraged to give any items a once over before putting it to use.

8. Risk assessments

“If you stick to regular PAT Testing, you don’t need to risk assess your electrical equipment”. Wrong. Risk assessments exist to identify risks – and subsequently remove, reduce or control them, and they’re absolutely needed alongside PAT tests.

9. Employee equipment

Just because the electrical equipment doesn’t belong to the business, it doesn’t mean you can turn a blind eye. If you let employees bring in their own items (like an electric heater, kettle or fan, for example), you may need to include them in your maintenance plans.