While many believe that the law mandates them to test their electrical appliances every year, this is not the case. According to the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, any electrical equipment or appliance that could potentially cause injury must be maintained in a safe condition.
That being said, the regulations are not specific about exactly what must be done to keep electricals safe, how frequently or by whom. So, the regulations don’t make it a legal requirement to test or inspect electrical appliances and they don’t specify that it should be done on a yearly basis.
An employer will have fulfilled their legal obligation by ensuring that all electrical equipment is maintained to prevent any sort of danger to visitors or employees. It is advised that they take a risk-based approach while considering the kind of appliances or applications they have installed and what they are being used for.
For kettles, floor cleaners and other equipment that is used regularly and moved around, visual checks and testing can form an important aspect of an effective maintenance regimen. The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has guidelines on how equipment can be maintained, including using PAT testing.
PAT testing is one of the most reliable means to make sure the government regulations around electrical equipment are met. Insurance companies and HSE expect employers to have PAT testing done to make sure they fully comply with the relevant regulations such as:
- The 1999 Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations
- The 1998 Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations
- The 1989 Electricity at Work Regulations
- The 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act
Failing to comply with the regulations mentioned above could lead to six months’ imprisonment and/or fines as high as £5,000. In some cases, fines have gone up to £20,000 and some sentences have been as high as two years’ imprisonment in addition to the high financial penalties. So, PAT testing is a serious matter even though it is not strictly required by law. It ensures that you are protected by keeping you compliant with the necessary regulations.
Note that when we say ‘employers’ are required to follow these regulations, this includes the self-employed. Instead of looking at PAT testing as something that must be done because someone else requires it, consider it a crucial aspect of the health and safety of your business environment. It’s the most reliable means to identify any defects with frequently-used electrical equipment or appliances.
When faults are spotted early on, you can avoid dealing with potential hazards by making the necessary repairs. Think of the costs and other possible consequences of an electrical fault that’s left unattended to.Knowing that your electrical appliances and equipment are safe and having peace of mind that the general public, operators and members of staff are not at risk of any harm should be enough to motivate you to perform PAT testing regularly.