Is PAT testing Electrical Equipment a Legal Requirement?

A recent call from a panicked client has led to this blog post regarding PAT testing.

Portable Appliance Testing (PAT), is a process of periodically testing electronic devices to ensure they are maintained and safe for use.

If a device has been PAT tested you will usually find a sticker on the plug, which has the date of the last test.

This formal process of regular inspection and testing has clear advantages for reducing risks associated with electronic devices in the workplace. However, I often hear PAT testing quoted as a legal requirement for businesses. This is incorrect.

Electrically Safe – The Law
Regulation 4(2) of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 says

“As may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, such danger”

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides a useful leaflet to help you manage electrical risk in your workplace. In offices and low risk environments, often a visual inspection is all that is required, however with some portable devices, testing may be more appropriate to ensure it’s safety.

Think carefully about the best way to manage this risk using the HSE’s advice, PAT testing or both.


HSE PAT – Portable appliance testing FAQs – May 2012. … esting.htm

HSE Guidance Leaflet, Maintaining portable electric equipment in office and other low risk environments – April 2011.

HSE Article, Myth: All office equipment must be tested by a qualified electrician every year – July 2007.


Robert Clements
Robert Clements
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