Understanding what needs to be PAT tested and how often it should be tested is vital to minimise the cost of PAT testing whilst still ensuring that you meet all health and safety obligations. As discussed in our previous blog post PAT testing isn’t a legal requirement but it is an easy way to demonstrate that your company is meeting health and safety legislation. Here we examine what needs to be PAT tested and analysing how your PAT testing program should be implemented.
What Needs to Be PAT Tested
The acronym Portable Appliance Testing is somewhat of a giveaway here as anything that is portable should be tested. However, this applies to everything from power tools to computers – essentially anything that is plugged in or connected to the electrical installation– whether it is moved around or not. What is important is understanding the frequency of when PAT testing should be conducted for different items.
How Often to Test
How often you test equipment depends on three factors – Usage Time, Usage Type and environment.
Usage Time – The more frequently an appliance is used the more regularly it should be tested. However, this needs to be moderated in turn by what type of item it is.
Usage Type – If a tool is used for industrial work – say machining equipment or power tools then there is a high degree of associated risks. If a power tool fails it could cause severe damage. If a vacuum cleaner or computer fails it is unlikely to cause significant damage to people – though it may cause damage to property.
Environment – Equipment installed in a benign environment, such as an office, will suffer less damage than equipment in an arduous environment, such as a construction site.
How an electrical appliance used is important as is the usage type. To give you a better understanding of this consider the following examples:
Desktop Computers used Daily
Desktop computers are designed to be used for extended periods without any issues developing. They are not moved very regularly and are unlikely to become damaged. If a computer breaks the most likely failures are internal with very little risk to personnel or property. With modern computers we would categorise these as very low risk. Therefore you can make a judgement that these can be PAT tested once a year or once every two years (N.B. this would also depend on the working environment – e.g. an office computer is lower risk than a computer on a workshop floor).
Hire Tools
A hire tool may be used daily by various companies and individuals who may or may not have sufficient safety training with the equipment. The tools are frequently moved and used. This makes these more high-risk items – especially as power tools pose significant risks to the individuals using them. If used daily for extended periods these may need PAT testing on a monthly basis. Conversely, a tool hired out just once a month might only need PAT testing every year.
Developing and Refining Risk Management
Once you have developed an initial risk management strategy for your business we can provide the PAT testing services you require at a schedule that suits you. Through accurate record keeping you may also find that frequency of checks on certain items can be reduced. For example if two years go by with no issues on a certain set of tools you may be able to decide that testing can be less regular.

We are happy to work with you on any aspect of PAT testing program development and record keeping so feel free to contact us today.