PAT testing is an expected part of every employer’s safety environment. Visual inspection of electrical appliances, on its own, is not enough to determine the item you are working on is safe to use. Guidance encompasses all electrical equipment including portable and transportable equipment. Hence why testing with proper equipment is imperative and at Martindale, we offer not just the tools alone but conduct PAT training too.

The Regulation (Electricity at Work Regulations 4.2) defines ‘Electrical equipment includes anything used, or intended to be used or installed for use, to generate, provide, transmit, transform, rectify, convert, conduct, distribute, control, store, measure or use electrical energy’. Regulation, therefore, encompasses all electrical equipment including portable and transportable equipment, which needs to go through the process of being tested. In all of the documents, the word ‘maintain’ or ‘maintenance’ appears and this includes the inspection, test and repair of equipment.

Although formal visual inspection can pick up a lot of faults, there are some faults that can only be picked up by a test instrument. For example, if the insulation within an appliance has been damaged, then a visual inspection alone will not be able to identify this. The only way this is going to be discovered is by using a PAT tester.

To look at another example, if the Safety Earth Connection (earth bond) inside an appliance has become disconnected, exposing the user to the danger of an electric shock. A PAT tester will identify this type of problem while a visual inspection will not.

The 5th edition of the IET C.O.P emphasises 8 key factors to be considered when deciding on the frequency of PAT testing:

  1. The environment
    Equipment installed in an office vs a construction site for example, will suffer less damage.
  2. The users
    If equipment users identify and report damage, hazards are avoided.
  3. The equipment construction
    This section covers the differences in safety risks of Class I and Class II equipment.
  4. The equipment type
    Handheld equipment is more likely to be damaged than fixed equipment.
  5. Frequency of use
    Frequent use of mobile or handheld equipment affects service life.
  6. Type of installation method
    Installation methods should be taken into account, especially when assessing fixed equipment.
  7. Previous records
    Records of inspection, testing and maintenance are useful to determine testing frequency required.
  8. Functional in-service life
    Some equipment may have an intentionally short service life e.g. regularly replaced IT equipment.


Many organisations carry out PAT testing annually, irrespective of the risk factors, which may dictate testing more or less frequently. The environment in which it is used determines how likely an appliance is to get damaged. Damage is most likely to happen in factories, workshops and commercial kitchens or construction sites.

The changes to the code of practice now mean that it is simply not enough to carry out testing of all appliances on an annual basis. Some appliances may not require any electrical testing at all, whereas others may need to be tested more regularly. Maintaining asset lists and details of test regimes can be a huge task, especially for larger sites.

Who needs training?

The Electricity at Work Regulation applies to self-employed persons equally as to employed persons. Managers of a contracted test and inspection company must also be trained to ensure that tests and inspections are carried out properly. Hence why it is essential to ensure that PAT testing on equipment is done properly, as a safety responsibility. Any accident resulting from a portable electrical appliance due to it not being tested or maintained could result in prosecution under the HSW Act.

At Martindale we offer PAT training courses online over video call. This opportunity would allow you to have a one-day comprehensive training experience, taught in accordance with the IET Code of Practice 5th edition. This teaches delegates the theory and practical aspects of testing portable appliances safely. To find out more or to get in contact with us here.

Paul Wilson

UK & Ireland Sales Manager

Martindale