Commercial PAT Testing

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Businesses in the UK have a legal obligation under the The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 to ensure that all electrical equipment is safe and well-maintained for its intended use. Failure to comply can result in substantial financial penalty and up to 2 years’ imprisonment. There is no set test required by law however, PAT testing is an easy and efficient way to ensure you meet your legal obligation. You will have peace of mind your electrical equipment is safe and a certificate to prove your compliance should anything happen.

Office with desks and computer equipment
A black UK plug with a PAT Test label on

What is a PAT Test?


PAT testing stands for ‘portable appliance testing’. It involves both visual checks and testing of portable electrical appliances to ensure they meet the required safety standards.

A portable appliance is defined as any item that can be moved and unplugged from a power supply including kettles, IT equipment, lamps, power tools, microwaves, vending machines and fridges.

How often do I need to test commercial equipment?

There is no set requirement for how frequently testing needs to occur. However, the regulations state it should be proportionate to the risk posed by the appliance. For example, an industrial power tool in daily use will need checking more regularly than a desk lamp. It is also worth considering:

  • The age of the appliance
  • Frequency of use
  • Manufacturer’s recommendations
  • Misuse of the equipment
  • The risk of the working environment
  • The history of the item

Offices, shops and schools are likely to be at a much lower risk than construction sites or industrial factories. We would suggest most equipment is tested every 1-2 years. For further information relating to the frequency of inspections click here.

A construction worker using a power tool
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Can I check equipment myself?

Anyone carrying out a PAT test must be deemed a ‘competent person’. The IEE code of practice defines a ‘competent’ person as:

“A person possessing sufficient knowledge or experience to be capable of ensuring that injury is prevented.”

This involves having:

  • A knowledge of electricity
  • Experience in electrical work
  • An understanding of potential hazards and the precautions to take
  • An understanding of the equipment they are testing
  • The ability to recognise when it is safe to continue

Hiring an electrician to carry out PAT Testing is the best way to ensure you are meeting your legal obligations.


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