Our guide to PAT testing in the office

Image showing computers in an office - office pat testing being carried out in a Newcastle upon Tyne office

PAT testing office equipment should be an essential part of your in house Health and Safety policy; regular PAT tests will help you maintain safe electrical equipment, something which you are legally required to do.

Being proactive in your approach to electrical safety not only makes your office safer, but gives your staff assurance that you take their safety seriously.

Regular PAT testing in offices is the best way to keep your staff and premises safe. You would do this on all electrical appliances in your office.

How often you do it is dependent on your assessment of the risks, but it’s no secret that most companies get it done every year, as this is accepted as the best PAT testing frequency to ensure equipment maintains safe standards.

This guide we have put together should help you to understand about your PAT Testing requirements in the office including how it is carried out, some other things you can do to help, what you need to test and how often you should get it done.

Why should I get my office PAT tested?

Using electrical equipment safely and responsibly in the office is crucial, not to mention a legal requirement for all employers and a duty expected of employees.

As an employer, you have a legal responsibility to protect your employees’ health and safety. In the UK, this duty of care is called the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Within that law is the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. These regulations tell us how electricity should be used in the workplace, including making sure electrical equipment is safe and fit for purpose.

The regulations not only give employers a legal duty of care, but place responsibility on employees, contractors and other similarly employed workers too.

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

The Electricity at Work Regulations require you to

  • maintain all electrical systems in a way that prevents danger
  • make sure employees do nothing that might cause danger when operating, using, maintaining or working near an electrical system
  • make sure the equipment you provide to protect people from the hazards of electrical systems is suitable, fully maintained and used in the proper way
  • use any electrical equipment whose strength and capability is so excessive that it might cause danger
  • take precautions to make sure potentially dangerous conductors cannot cause people danger
  • provide suitable means for cutting off the supply of electricity to any electrical equipment, and isolating any electrical equipment
  • make sure any person working with electrical systems or equipment has the technical knowledge or experience they need to avoid injury or cause danger

Of course these are just the parts that relate to electrical equipment.

Under the Electricity at Work Regulations, you have a legal duty to keep all your portable electrical equipment in a safe condition.

However, one problem with the regulations is that they don’t tell you how to do this, or when—just that you need to!

How often should PAT testing be done in the office?

In order to meet your legal requirements your electrical equipment must maintain safety standards.

To prove that you do that a PAT test is the way to go – the PAT test is designed to check an appliance is safe, and provide documentary evidence to support that.

A PAT test will help you comply with your legal requirements.

But how often you get the test carried out, is not as straightforward. You should get a risk assessment done to determine what you need to do to maintain safe equipment, taking various factors into account.

Some equipment will need testing more often than others, and some less often. For example a computer on a desk is fairly static and won’t move much, so won’t need testing as often as the kettle, but the TV fixed to the wall will need testing less often than the computer.

Doing it this way however, can be confusing, and is easy to lose track, which is why most people get their office PAT Testing done every year. The report provided provides proof that equipment is safe, and from that you comply.

Some risk assessments simply say that they get their equipment PAT Tested every year, and they consider that sufficient to maintain safe equipment.

So there is no rule on how often you need to get your office PAT testing done but most do it annually instead of doing complicated retest periods and risk assessments.

We rent office space – do we need to PAT Test?

Yes. You need to make sure your electrical equipment is safe for you to use, but you also need to protect your landlords’ premises from fire risk.

Chances are your landlord/business centre will require you to do PAT testing; many even arrange it for you. We work with a number of business centres who book us to test all their tenants equipment.

What office appliances need PAT Testing?

image to show office electrical equipment that may need a PAT Test

Any electrical items that plug in need to be tested, whether they are portable or not.

Also any electrical items that started life with a plug, but are now hard wired, also need checking, although not as often.

Here’s just a small list of office equipment you’ll need to get PAT tested.

In your office

  • Computer
  • Monitor 
  • Photocopier
  • TV
  • Laptop charger
  • Franking machines
  • Portable heaters
  • Fans
  • Phone and tablet chargers
  • Plug in phone adaptors
  • And anything else that plugs in

Many IT based electrical items have power leads that can be unplugged from the unit – these need testing on their own, and plugged in to the unit.

In the kitchen 

  • Kettles, boilers
  • Coffee makers
  • Fridge Freezer
  • Microwave Oven
  • Toaster, Sandwhich Toaster
  • and anything else that plugs in

Top Kitchen Tipappliances should only be plugged directly into wall sockets – if you’re using extension leads take it away – they’re very prone to overheating and that can lead to a fire. 

There’s gong to be other items too that need testing – servers, vending machines, water coolers, hand dryers in the toilets, vacuum cleaner and so on.

Happy to Help

If this doesn’t answer your questions feel free to email it to us, and we’ll do our best to answer.

PAT testing Office equipment

As a PAT testing company we specialise in low risk environments, namely offices. IT equipment is relatively easy to inspect and test to check it is safe; many electrical appliances don’t ever need a test (they will need inspecting though), and many more will only need an inspection for the first few years.

Pat testing office equipment isn’t too hard providing you know what you are doing, but it is very important to have the right equipment. Some PAT Testers will test at 500volts which can damage the sensitive parts of a computer. 

A computer is bought, put on a desk, wired in to the socket underneath and used by someone, it doesn’t move for years – how would it get damaged? This is worth considering when doing a risk assessment

If it doesn’t move it won’t get dropped or knocked so the chances of a fault developing inside are very low.

It’s more likely to get damaged on the outside; users getting too heavy handed, desks resting on cables, plugs getting damaged etc.

The appliance should get an inspection by us every so often, and a test every few years perhaps – we’ll be able to advise you better when we see your site.

The morale of this story is this – if you current get your office PAT tested every year then get in touch with us, as you’re likely getting it done far too often, and thus wasting your money!

Visit our main PAT testing in offices pages for more information

PAT testing Office equipment can be done with relative ease and minimal disruption if we work together. A quick look around your office will enable us to quickly devise a plan that will allow us to do our job whilst allowing your staff to work easily. Testing a computer only takes a few minutes so there won’t be too much down time if we work together. We have done enough offices to know the best course of action.