PAT testing law

Is PAT testing a legal requirement?

There can be some confusion around whether there is a legal requirement to have PAT testing conducted. Contradictory and misleading advice about the legal status of PAT testing is widespread. It is clear that there is no strict legal requirement to perform PAT testing written into UK law explicitly. However, the law does clearly require that all electrical equipment provided to employees in the workplace is maintained in safe working order.

PAT testing is the most effective way to ensure that electrical equipment is safe.

Both the UK Health and Safety Executive, and insurance companies, expect employers to perform regular PAT tests.

Which UK regulations does PAT testing help employers to comply with?

Regular PAT testing is the best way to ensure that you are complying with regulations covering safety in the workplace, including:

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA)

The HSWA specifies a wide range of duties for employers to protect the ‘health, safety and welfare’ of everyone who is present on their premises. In relation to electrical equipment, the HSWA states that an employer is responsible for ‘the provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health’. Essentially, PAT tests are the ‘sufficient measures being taken’ to ensure that fixed wiring and portable appliances are safe and properly maintained, fulfilling obligations stated in the HSWA.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Under this regulation, employers are required to perform a risk assessment to protect every person present in the workplace to make sure they are not subject to danger. A risk assessment is required so that the HSWA can be put into practice in every workplace.

PAT testing specialists such as Reaction Group are experts in helping organisations to create and conduct necessary risk assessments, which ensure organisations meet regulations and provide for workplace compliance.

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (EAWR)

The EAWR regulations, in particular, are directly relevant to the testing of electrical equipment. Under the EAWR, employers have a duty that all electrical equipment is regularly inspected and repaired as needed, to ensure they’re safe to operate. The EAWR states, ‘As may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, as far as is reasonably practicable, such danger’. The EAWR also states that electrical equipment is ‘maintained in a condition suitable for that use’.

Although the EAWR does not specifically mention portable appliance testing and inspection; the law requires electrical systems to be ‘maintained’ in a condition so as not to cause danger. The only way to be sure that electrical equipment is safe and maintained is by conducting electrical testing and inspection. Essentially, the need for PAT testing is implicit in the EAWR regulations.

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)

Under this law, there is a clear duty for every employer to ‘ensure that work equipment is so constructed or adapted as to be suitable for the purpose for which it is used or provided’. PAT testing meets the stated obligation for employers to properly maintain equipment. Under the Regulation ‘every employer shall ensure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair’. The Regulation also clearly states that the employer has a duty to conduct inspections when new equipment is first put into service, after it’s moved, and also at regular intervals during service to check for deterioration. Additional tests and inspections should also be conducted on all equipment for any damage from events such as fires and floods.

What are the potential consequences of not complying with regulations?

Failing to comply with workplace safety regulations can incur fines of up to £20,000 and/or 6 months in prison. Although PAT testing itself is not a legal requirement, it is the most effective way to ensure that you are complying with workplace safety regulations.

UK law requires employers, and the self-employed, to ensure that all electrical equipment provided is safe and properly maintained. Therefore, PAT testing needs to be a key part of every company’s health and safety policy.

Contact Reaction Group for your PAT Testing

Contact the UK specialists for PAT testing today. Get in touch with our expert team who will advise on your PAT testing requirements. Our experienced team have worked with many high profile clients across the UK including Coca-Cola, Samsung and Amazon.

Reaction Group provide comprehensive workplace compliance services, on a one-off or scheduled basis, for your business. Call 0203 961 5855 or click here to contact us online.

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