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PAT testing explained

PAT testing is not a legal requirement however the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 places responsibility on employers to assess and ensure the safety of electrical devices in the workplace to protect people from harm. PAT testing is the most common, and in our opinion, the most reasonably practicable way to check some types of electrical appliances are safe for use in the workplace and has become an essential aspect of many companies Health and Safety Policy.

Portable appliance testing is the process of testing certain electrical appliances to assess whether they are safe for use within the appropriate environment in accordance with the guidelines stated in the IET code of practice. PAT testing should be performed regularly to assist with the protection and safety of everybody within the workplace and to prevent electrical accidents.

PAT testing is a two-part process; firstly, a visual inspection is carried out, the appliance is checked for any visible damage- this can be frayed cords, exposed parts, broken cases. The plug is also checked for damage and correct fusing. Where possible minor damage can be repaired, and plugs replaced.

The second part is the more in-depth electrical test which can include up to three components depending on the class requirement of the appliance (listed below). This is carried out by plugging the appliance into our testing apparatus and running the appropriate test.


Earth continuity- this test ensures that there is a good connection between the mains plug and any earthed metal parts.

Insulation resistance: this test indicates the condition of the insulation between two conductive parts by measuring the resistance given.

Polarity test- this is IEC specific this checks the appliance is wired correctly when you cannot visually check a moulded plug.

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Items that should be PAT tested

  • Hand held- appliances held whilst on and in use, hairdryers, drills etc.

  • Portable- weighing less than 18kg can be moved in operation or easily moved from one place to another, extensions, toasters, kettles, fans etc.

  • Stationary- exceeding 18kg not intended to be moved once positioned, fridges, washing machines etc

  • Moveable- 18kg or less not fixed with wheels or other means to facilitate movement, compressors, air conditioning units etc.

  • Fixed – secured in position or fastened to a support, ovens, radiators, hobs

  • IT equipment- computers, photocopiers, printers etc

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