Legal Background

Testing a 4-way extension block
PAT Testing a 4-way extension block

You might be surprised to know that there is no strict legal requirement* for PAT testing. However, there is a legal requirement that your electrical equipment is safe for your employees, clients and/or customers to use, this can include equipment you have hired. You are required to ensure that electrical equipment on your premises is regularly checked by someone competent to do so. Effectively, PAT testing has to be done to ensure your continuing compliance with the law.

Portable Appliances Only?

The term “Portable Appliance Testing” is outdated. In fact all electrical systems should be checked for safety. The snappily named “Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment 4th Edition (now in its 5th edition)” published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology, 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…


  • Other than the fixed installation, which is considered to be the installation from the
    meter point to the socket-outlet, or fuse connection unit, all electrical equipment in an
    installation, whether permanently connected or connected by a plug and socket-outlet, should be inspected and tested…

A qualified PAT tester will know what equipment this includes, suffice to say it’s not just appliances that are portable.

The following documents provide the basis of the regulations and law:

  • The electricity at work regulations 1989
  • The provision and Use of work equipment 1998
  • The management of health and safety 1999
  • Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

* Disclaimer – The information in this website is for general guidance and is not legal advice. If you need legal advice about your responsibilities, please contact an adviser or solicitor.