Struggling to understand exactly what the regulations for PAT testing are, and how they apply to you? You're not alone.

The first thing you need to know is that PAT testing is not a compulsory requirement. It is not, by law, a necessary part of checking an environment's electrical appliances. It is, however, the almost universally-accepted method of checking an appliance's safety and ensures full compliance with The Electricity At Work Regulations.

About The Electricity At Work Regs

Regulation 4 (2) of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 states:

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

This sentence is why we PAT test - it is a requirement for electrical appliances used in commercial, industrial and other environments to be regularly checked to ensure they are in safe working order. The PAT test is the most common way to do this and ensures that the regulations are adhered to.

Regulation 4 (2) is concerned with the need for maintenance to be done in order to ensure safety of the system if danger would otherwise result.  The quality and frequency of maintenance should be sufficient to prevent danger so far as is reasonably practicable.  Records of maintenance, including test results, should be kept throughout the working life of the electrical equipment to enable:

  1. The condition of the equipment to be monitored.
  2. The effectiveness of the maintenance policies to be assessed, and
  3. To demonstrate that an effective system is in place.

Remember - PAT testing itself is NOT compulsory, but it is the BEST way to ensure compliance with these regulations (which must be followed at all times).

The IET Code of Practice For In-Service Inspection & Testing

Although not a formal requirement, the IET's guidebook for PAT testing safely is used almost universally as a guide to the rules and regulations of testing.

Based on European standards, regular amendments and the Electricity at Work regulations, this book outlines everything from how frequently PAT testing should be performed to the requirements on duty holders such as landlords, managers and others involved with businesses.

We highly recommend anyone who wants to PAT test reads and studies this book to gain a comprehensive understanding of the requirements and recommended courses of action.

You can get a copy of the IET Code of Practice here.