We can provide you with expert guidance on PAT testing frequency for your workplace
Giving you peace of mind that your electrical equipment is safe to use
PAT testing Frequency
Nothing causes more confusion among our clients than how often they need pat testing. It’s always been that businesses should get tested every 12 months and this is still best practice, and the preference of insurance companies.
Now we get many new clients telling us that they know their equipment doesn’t need testing, or only needs doing every 5 years, but in most cases they’re wrong.
The guidance on pat testing frequency is misleading and overly complicated. We find the best guidance is given by the HSE, although even then it is complicated. Health and Safety at Work suggest you get a risk assessment done to determine the best intervals and whilst this is a good plan, it may not be necessary.
Most equipment can be tested on an ongoing basis based on the general risk of the working environment, such as a low risk office probably only needs its equipment testing every couple of years.
How often should electrical equipment be tested?
We use office equipment as our default frequency, as it is simple and everyone understands what it means. Office equipment is the likes of computers, printers, copiers and other appliances in an office like lamps and radios. As a general rule we recommend getting these tested every 2 years, or testing initially, inspecting after 2 years, then testing again 2 years later.
If you work of that as low risk, then extra low risk will be appliances that move even less, and have less chance of being damaged such as fixed equipment, integrated kitchen appliances and server systems. As long as you know they were installed correctly, and have not been recalled then they should be ok for another year or two.
If you go the other way, a slightly higher risk may be office equipment used by the students in a school; as they’re less likely to look after the kit as well as their teachers, for example.
Also consider equipment that is moved more often like portable kitchen appliances, or hand-held equipment in cafe’s, supported living etc. These perhaps should be tested annually.
Higher risk equipment could include power tools in a factory which should be tested more often too; but we would consider the risks on site before proposing a frequency for these, which could be 12-months, or less time.
But also it depends on the construction of the appliance, for example, class 1 equipment generally needs testing more often that class 2 because it also relies on earth protection so you need to make sure that is intact.
These figures are a general guide only; you should always get us to view your site, assess it and test equipment before putting a pat testing frequency period in place.
PAT testing frequency is decided officially by a risk assessment being conducted on the appliances in your workplace. However in reality a good PAT testing engineer should be able to guide you to using the most appropriate retest period for your business.
Sometimes annual retests are the best option – they’re cheaper than the alternative and are good practice to make sure any faults are found quickly. But in other cases there is plenty of opportunity to increase the PAT testing frequency intervals.
All you need to know about PAT Testing Frequency
What we have forgotten about the frequency of PAT tests wasn’t worth knowing, and what we know about it makes your life a lot easier!
How often electrical equipment needs PAT testing is a question people ask all the time, often for the wrong reasons – it’s not about how much money you can save.
If you concentrate solely on saving money then you’re going to get punished later on for something else.
With electrical equipment, electrical wiring, or anything else electrical your safety and the safety of other users must come first, because one mistake could kill!
Take into account the risks associated with the appliance, its use and the environment and you will easily be able to determine a suitable frequency between tests for the appliance.
When we PAT Test electrical appliances we do a thorough inspection of the plug, fuse, lead and appliance followed by tests dependent on the appliance construction, such as whether it is class 1 and needs earth protection or is double insulated. All electrical equipment that operates off mains power requires regular tests to confirm it is continuing to be safe.
FAQs about PAT Testing Frequency
How often do I need PAT testing done?
PAT testing needs to be done as often as a risk assessment recommends… that’s what the guidance says. You or another competent person should carry out an electrical / fire prevention risk assessment on all electrical appliance types and determine what maintenance is required and what risks could arise from the use of the appliance. We can do this for you too.
To make the process easier the Health and Safety Executive offer excellent guidance on retest periods based on environment types; for example equipment on a building site should be tested every 3 months; whilst stationery equipment in an office only needs a test every 4 years.
Best practice still recommends that you get tested every 12 months; especially if you are not planning to do anything in-house.
When you get your PAT testing done by us we will automatically assess your risks, and recommend appropriate intervals for you; saving you the hassle.
But how often is PAT testing required by law?
Sorry but there isn’t a straight answer for this one; we wish there was – it would make our job much easier! It comes down to a risk assessment every time.
How long does a PAT test last?
When you get the MOT done on your car, you can drive it away having successfully passed then on the way home your headlight goes off.. that would have been a failure a few minutes earlier. And if the Police spot you driving at night they may stop you and give you a ticket. You are now responsible for getting the fault fixed and should get the MOT done again, although few of us actually do as it is not a legal requirement.
It’s the same with PAT testing – you get the PAT done on your appliance, let’s say an electric drill; it passes and gets a pass label put on. You start using it again, and accidentally catch the cable with the drill bit and cut through it. It’s no longer safe and needs repairing; so you repair it. As an employer or self employed person, or even an employee you are responsible for health and safety, and are required to do a ‘user check‘ on an appliance before use. If the lead is damaged you should not use it and get it repaired by a competent person. Covering it in insulation tape is not acceptable.
After the repair it should get tested again, because in this case the lead will have had to be cut back and a new plug fitted, or the lead replaced fully, so the existing PAT test results are no longer valid; but not many people do this as it is not a legal requirement.
So, how long does a PAT test last? It is over as soon as it is over; it doesn’t have an expiry. It is only really valid at the time it is done, although we can assume if an appliance is tested, passes, then never moves or gets damaged in any way, the chances of a defect occurring are very low, so it should be ok to continue using until the recommended retest period. Its because of this supposed grey area that many get tested annually because that seems the obvious choice, although generally not the most appropriate.
How do we determine the risk?
The environment an appliance is used in is actually what is taken into account the most; most guidance tables you’ll find focus on the environment, because this is what people can most easily relate to. For example, an office is likely much safer than a building site – the office is low risk, whilst the building site is high risk.
In an office a computer on a desk never moves, so it is very low risk, so does it need testing every year? No. Maybe every 2-4 years. However power tools on a site get bashed around, they get wet and muddy, so they need testing a lot more often – every 3 months is the norm, with inspections every month and before each use by the user.
However, sometimes the user has to be consider too – a school is a fairly safe environment so you’d say the school is low risk; but children have a habit of breaking things, so the risk goes up, probably not up to high risk, but certainly medium – but is all equipment medium risk? No, because staff tend to look after their equipment better. So all the office equipment for example, could be low risk. This means in a school the office equipment may only need testing every 2-3 years, whilst the equipment in classrooms should be tested annually. But the risk is probably higher than annual so there is a reliance on the teachers to check and report any faults that arise in the mean time.
These are just examples, but are factors that need to be taken into account.
When should PAT testing be done and how often should you pat test?
PAT testing should be done initially and then it should be done as often as is necessary to maintain safe equipment. These are not questions easily answered in a short answer on a website, but can be easily answered after we have seen your site, and tested your equipment so the first thing to do is book us to do your initial testing.
How often should you get PAT testing done?
PAT testing should be completed as often as is necessary depending on the risks associated with the equipment use, and the environment it is being used in. We can assess this and guide you into what would be the most appropriate frequency for your business when we do your testing. When you do a risk assessment you must always consider your insurance policy as that may insist on annual testing, but as a general rule the following usually applies:
- Equipment that never moves in an office like a server or fixed appliance should be tested every 5 years
- Other office equipment such as computers should be tested every 2 years (at most)
- Equipment in a factory or workshop should be tested every year
- And tools used on a building site should be tested every 3 months
How often will our Server need testing?
Server systems are made up usually of IT equipment, and are stationery appliances, usually powered off a large surge protected socket extension, contained in a controlled ‘cage’ system. A server is usually monitored and maintained by a specialist engineer from an IT team; this should reduce the risk.
Being stationery IT equipment, that is managed a server shouldn’t need testing as often as say a computer in an office, so it is generally accepted that a full test every 5 years is sufficient; although this should be every 5 years from install, not from the start of a PAT testing programme.
If interim inspections are required, without unplugging the items there is little an engineer can do but look at what they can see; some companies will still label up each part, which isn’t totally wrong but some would question what they are actually doing. To enhance this, we have a thermal image camera; although not carried by all engineers we can arrange for this to be carried out to check for any overly hot spots in the system.
Our Equipment is used by the public, how often should it be tested?
Equipment used by the public should be tested on an annual basis to make sure it is maintained in good condition – you should also make sure you inspect it regularly because a year is a long time and issues can occur in-between tests.
Our equipment is used in a workshop; how often should that be tested?
Equipment used in workshops can depending on the workshop come under more strain than normal so testing more often should be considered; particularly well maintained workshop equipment may not need testing as often as equipment that isn’t. Equipment that is allowed to remain covered in dirt, grease and grime will deteriorate faster so should be checked more often.