PAT Testing Information – what we can do for you

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

“Hello, I am Richard. I am going to try to explain to you a bit about what we do and what you get when you choose us to PAT test your electrical equipment. 

I have tried to make it interesting, but there is an opportunity to waffle on and bore you to tears so this is just an overview. If you really want to learn more you can delve into our many blogs, or just book an appointment and we’ll come do the job. After all I’m not interested in what my accountant does as long as he saves me tax, and you probably don’t care what we do, as long as we ensure your equipment is safe and give you a certificate. 

Before I get into the nitty gritty I just want to let you know these things, especially if you are still considering which PAT testing company to use”. 

Richard Ayre, Director of DRA PAT Testing

If there is ever an accident, and an electrical appliance is to blame, even if it has been tested YOU are still held responsible. You have to be able to prove in court (if it comes to that) that you did everything you needed to do to make sure the appliance was safe. If you can provide a PAT Testing Certificate it will help you; but if you can provide a report that lists all the appliances tested, what tests were done, the results obtained (readings not just ‘pass’), and any repairs carried out that will be much more help. If your report includes just a ‘pass’ comment, and no information, you may not be covered, as anyone can make that up. All our reports include all the information you need to provide evidence that you have taken the appropriate action. Many of our competitors supply reports that’s not worth the paper they’re written on – you can spot these companies because they charge low rates per item (usually less than £1).

If we find a faulty appliance that needs repair, in most cases, we do the repair free of charge, automatically. Most other companies charge for this, or don’t do it at all. Simply they fail the item – why would you want an appliance that can easily be repaired, failed so you can’t use it? You can spot these companies because they charge low rates per item (usually less than £1). 

We don’t rush our work – our engineers are encouraged to find faults and fix them; they’re also encouraged to do a thorough job, to tidy messy cables and to make sure your workplace is safer when they leave. We don’t target our engineers ‘per item’, we simply want the job done well so you are happy. Many companies out there, especially the ones who charge low rates, want their engineers to achieve unrealistic targets (approx. 500 items per day – we do about 2-250 items).

We are based in the North East – many companies claim to be based in the region, who aren’t. We are based in Wallsend, and our engineers work from home in North Shields, Newcastle and Blyth. That company with purple labels are in Thirsk, the one with Green paper labels are in Leeds; the one that claims to be based in Newcastle is really in Edinburgh, and so on. There’s a really good company in Newcastle, as well as us, and another good one in Durham, but there’s not loads of us up here.

We’re not electricians, nor do we need to be – we are highly skilled, competent, qualified, experienced PAT Testing engineers. I have done this job since 2009, before that I worked for a bank. I have built up a good business with a great reputation and train my team to work like I do – Kyle, Rob and Jane all have high standards and are very good at what they do. A good PAT tester works with electrical equipment every day.

DRA PAT Testing LtdExcellentDRA PAT Testing Ltd5.0 Based on 321 reviews fromJoanne RuddickJoanne Ruddick ★★★★★ Great service very professional completed with no problems used this company for a few years now never had a problem would definitely recommendResponse from the ownerThanks Joanne Dawn O'NeillDawn O'Neill ★★★★★ Jane is very friendly and efficient. Always use this company every year 5 stars every timeResponse from the ownerThanks Dawn Jamie MiddletonJamie Middleton ★★★★★ Prompt and efficient service with solid communication throughout. Rob has attended our site for years now and has always been accommodating to our needs. Thanks again Rob!Response from the ownerThanks Jamie js_loader
DRA PAT Testing Team Photo 2022-2023

This is my team, well most of it.

Left to right there is Kyle, Rob, Me, Jane and Lee. If you want to get to know us better check out the ‘About us‘ section.

We are a great team – I am very proud to work with these guys, they all bring something different to the team and have their unique skills that ensure we do a great job every time.

We also have Chelsea who assists us with admin from the office and Pete an electrician who works for us as a contractor to do EICRs. If you need your mains wiring inspection doing we can arrange that for you.

What is PAT Testing?

PAT testing, or Portable Appliance Testing, to give it its full name is a process for checking electrical equipment fitted with a plug to make sure it is safe to continue using.

Want to know more? Check out this blog on Workplace Electrical Safety.

Information on what we do and how we operate

Quotations and Planning

Step one in arranging a PAT test is simple – we need to know about the job:

  • The working environment (e.g. office, pub, factory, building site)
  • The type of appliances (e.g. computers, hair driers, 110v power tools, 3phase equipment)
  • How many appliances you have
  • Where we have to go to do the job

We get this from talking to you, or by coming to see you to have a look at the job. It’s called a survey, but basically we would walk around your facility – ideally you showing us around so we don’t get lost, and we count how many appliances we see.

You can contact us using the phone numbers or email at the top and bottom of the page, or by our contact us or get a quote pages. If you just want to get the job done with no hassle you can book an appointment today at our fixed prices.

A count by you or us gives a rough idea on numbers – there will always be more, as there will be some hidden under desks, in drawers, cupboards etc and there is always that one room you forgot to show us.

From the count, and what we know about the job we can give you a price.

Once the price has been agreed, we can book an appointment to do the job.

Anything up to 250-300 items in an office, one engineer will take a day to do it. Any more than that and it’s going to be more days, or more engineers. In most cases we put more people on the job to get it done in the same day, thus reducing travel costs, which keeps the price down for you.

We estimate around 20-30 items can be tested in an hour and that’s how we plan most jobs.

In factories, building sites, industrial locations this number can be reduced, which is why we charge more for them. We may even quote a day rate.

Now you just need to put that in your diary, and remember we’re coming.

When we arrive

When we come to you to check if your appliances are safe; this is what we do… 

Our engineer will assess the job on arrival to make sure we have allocated sufficient time to the job, and the job is as expected (it’s not unusual for the estimated number of items to be completely different to the reality) – if we did a survey this won’t be necessary.

The engineer will also do their own risk assessment to make sure the working environment is appropriate/safe.

The engineer will check with you if there are any priority areas to work in such as meeting rooms that are going to be in use; and also if there are any appliances that cannot be turned off, such as servers.

In some locations none of this may be necessary but you get the idea.

If your site is big, say a mix of office and workshop, we recommend doing office areas first, but you may also have a preferred route plan. For example when we do doctors surgeries which are busy time focused locations we find an organised Practice Manager will have a route plan mapped out and we love it when that plan comes together!

When all that is sorted, which usually only takes a couple of minutes combined we will crack on with the job. Our aim is to do the job with minimal fuss, and minimal disruption to you so we over the years we have perfected our pre-checks to ensure this can happen.

Our inspections and tests

I won’t bore you with the finer details, but we need to unplug appliances to test them, so they can’t be used when we’re doing our bit. So people will need to leave their desks, only for a few minutes usually.

We’ll do our work, and then all being well we’ll plug everything back in and switch it back on ready to use again.

  • We take off old labels, and put on our nice new labels which we print inhouse and show the test date and unique appliance ID number.
  • If the plug or cable needs repairing we’ll do that automatically.
Seaward Apollo 600 PAT tester, PAT test labels, St James Park in background - home of Newcastle United

Repairs

Sometimes we come across an appliance that needs a repair.

  • It could be damaged by heat such as melted plug or pin – if this happens we will repair it or replace the plug but we’ll also tell you about why it has happened to try to prevent it happening again. For example, we come across many melted extension leads with heaters plugged into them – a heater should only go into the wall socket.
  • It could be that someone has blown the fuse and replaced it, but put in the wrong fuse – we’ll replace the fuse.
  • If the plug needs replacing for another reason – we’ll replace it.
  • If part of the plug is defective we will replace that part, or the full plug.
  • If the plug doesn’t meet British Standards – we’ll replace it.
  • If the flexible cable is damaged we will cut it back to a safe location and reattach the plug.

You get the idea right? If there is a fault, and we can repair it we will. Most of the time we don’t charge. On the odd occasion we may have to charge but we will always get your permission first.

UK Plug where the blown fuse has been wrapped in foil rather than replacing the fuse.

We found this plug in an electrician’s workshop!

This proves that being a sparky doesn’t mean you know how to make an appliance safe. A tin foil fuse will never trip when an accident occurs – you’ll just keep getting electrocuted. 

Appliances that can’t be repaired

Sometimes we come across an appliance that even we can’t fix, and when that happens we have no choice but to fail it.

But this doesn’t mean it’s going in the bin – you may have someone else who can fix it, like a specialist maintenance engineer, or simply replacing it could be the cheaper option. Whatever it is we’ll tell you about the failure, and what you need to do about it.

We mark all failed items with a big red sticker that clearly says the appliance has failed. We put the label on the appliance and the plug, and remove the fuse from the plug. We remove the fuse so that if the item is plugged in accidently, it can’t be used.

Fail PAT Testing label Red and white with Failed Do not Use on it

When extra tests are needed

On the odd occasion we may have to do extra tests, most of the time this doesn’t affect you, but with Microwave ovens it does.

Microwave Ovens work by using radiation to heat food, and that radiation can leak out of the gaps in doors etc of the oven. So part of the inspection process is to measure for leakage. This is done using a specialist test unit we carry, and takes a few minutes to complete. We charge £5.00 per oven to do this. More information on Microwave testing can be found here.

Appliances that can’t be turned off

Some times an appliance can’t be turned off, such as Server units. We never turn off a server.

  • If it can’t be turned off we will do a visual inspection, the best we can do using our eyes. We will check each part of the unit, albeit without being able to unplug it and record each item on your PAT report.

We do not recommend only ever doing this visual inspection – a more thorough check should be carried out by either;

  • Doing a thermal image survey every 2-3 years following installation. A survey will check for heat spots and is done with a thermal camera. If this interests you speak to us about it  – we may recommend it if we have not tested the server for a while, or…
  • Do a full shut down and test each item correctly. This may not be convenient at the same time as the rest of the test, so arrangements can be made to do it on an evening or weekend.

Industrial Appliances / Commando Plugs

For most people this won’t apply, but in factories, some commercial kitchens etc. we do come across 3-phase equipment, and other commando plugs such as 110v devices. If you have no clue what I am on about – move on, you don’t need to know this.

  • We can check all types of commando plugs – they all fall under the same remit for inspection, but its when it comes to repairs we may be limited. We charge more per item than a standard plug due to the added time the inspection takes. We charge £2.95 per item.
  • We can test 110v, 230v and 400v plugs of an calibre; we can repair most cables except for armour. There are always additional charges – we don’t do these for free as they’re time consuming, and the plugs cost more than normal ’13a’ type. On average a repair would be £10.00 per plug but we would get your authority first.
  • We can’t repair 400v plugs as they’re specialist items.
110v straight plug

When the job is finished

When we finish the job the engineer will seek you out and explain what has been done.

  • They’ll tell you about any repairs or fails
  • They’ll confirm how many items have been tested (this may or may not be spot on as our testers have an annoying habit of telling us a different number).
  • They’ll talk to you about retest periods and their recommendations
  • They’ll ask you to do a review of their work on Google – they’ll give you a business card with QR code and a pen.

Back at the office, they’ll produce your report. This may be done that evening – it’s their choice if the want to do that, but on most occasions you will get it by Friday afternoon as we use this time for admin. You’ll be sent the report by email from our info@ email address. The report comes as a PDF and includes all the information you need.

More information on our PAT Testing Certificate Reports can be found here.

Invoices – we issue invoices after the report (in most cases); the invoice should be paid on receipt, or by the due date at the latest.

  • If you need credit speak to us about that option. Up to 30 days is available.
  • If you want to save some money you can pay up front for a 5% discount.

Other things to consider

Home workers – if people are working from home (since Covid many people still are) their appliances will need checking. Not what they own, but the appliances you supply such as a computer. Just because it is not in the office doesn’t mean it is not your responsibility. And it’s not just what you supply – is the extension lead they’re plugged into suitable for the task? Are the sockets overloaded? Working from home is still work. We can go to their homes to do this inspection. 

Field engineers – tools in vans need checking. This is especially important, as tools bounce around in the back of vans getting damaged.

Fixed Appliances – if you run a hotel, and have hard wired the hair drier or TV it will need checking. It doesn’t need doing every year, but every 2-3 years a check would be useful. Get the sparky who installed it to check it, or we can. More info on fixed appliance testing here.

The Benefits of PAT Testing

PAT Testing is proven to be the best method for ensuring your electrical equipment is safe. PAT, as a regular preventative maintenance programme, it ensures all reasonable steps have been taken to comply with health and safety legislation.

It also helps to protect you and your insurance when claims are made against you or your business, for loss or damage as a result of neglected or faulty electrical equipment.

  • Regular tests help you maintain safe electrical equipment
  • The engineer assesses the suitability of an appliance for the environment it is being used in to help you comply with The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
  • PAT testing records can be used to demonstrate compliance with the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 
  • Regular PAT testing helps you to comply with The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
  • Regular PAT tests in rental property help you comply with The Housing Act 2004 (England and Wales)
  • PAT tests before the start of a tenancy help a landlord comply with The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s guidance
  • Regular PAT tests help you comply with The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016
  • PAT testing finds plugs that don’t meet the Plugs and sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994 and corrects it.

There are 10,000% more counterfeit electrical goods in the UK now than 20 years ago

Our engineers are fully aware of counterfeit goods and we’re always updating our knowledge of them, so if you them, we can spot them. Counterfeit electrical appliances, such as fake Apple chargers, are a major fire risk and have been proven to be the source of many domestic fires.

PAT Testing FAQs

What does the PAT test involve?

Every appliance undergoes a visual inspection, which requires the plug to be opened (where possible) and the insides checked.

  • The wiring of the plug and fuse size will be checked
  • The cable is checked for damage and suitability

The appliance will then be tested using a calibrated PAT tester, with different tests carried out depending on the appliance:

  • Tests for earth continuity, insulation and polarity
  • Additional tests can be carried out for RCD’s and Microwave emissions.
  • Tests can be done on 110v, 230v and 400v plugs
  • All items that pass the test will be labelled with a unique ID number and recorded on the appliance register that accompanies your Certificate.

How does your insurance company view it?

Whilst an insurance company may not directly tell you to PAT test your equipment, they do have a big interest in mitigating the risk and expect you to have a program of regular testing in place, in line with Health and Safety at Work.

Over 25% of fires start from portable appliances, so insurance companies would prefer you to be have them checked and maintained to reduce this number. If you do not, they may use it as a clause to get out of paying your claim.

Many businesses are unaware of the implications not having portable appliance testing in place can have on their insurance.

Failure to carry out the necessary tests may result in an insurance company refusing to pay out in the case of an accident or fire caused by a faulty or badly maintained electrical appliance.

Is PAT Testing compulsory?

No. The law only requires an employer to ensure that their electrical equipment is maintained in order to prevent danger. It does not say how this should be done or how often.

Employers should take a risk-based approach, consider the type of equipment and what it is used for. If it’s used regularly and moved a lot e.g. a vacuum cleaner or a kettle, testing can be an important part of an effective maintenance regime giving employers confidence that they are doing what is necessary to help them meet their legal obligations.

However, if you choose to follow this be very careful; whilst the HSE says this, it would be unwise not to have a regime of inspection in place.

If a fire occurs, or an accident at work, caused by a dangerous appliance, the HSE and potentially the courts, will insist the employer prove they took reasonable action to ensure safe electrical equipment, such as by having a PAT testing regime in place. If the employer cannot produce this they will be considered negligent, and have to face the consequences that come with that.

You have to think, for the relatively low cost of a PAT test, is it really worth not getting it done? 

How often is PAT testing required?

You should carry out PAT testing…

As often as is necessary to prevent danger, whilst being reasonable and practical – e.g. testing an appliance every week is sufficient to prevent danger but isn’t reasonable and practical.

By doing a risk assessment we can determine how often is necessary whilst being reasonable and practical; such as every year. Annual PAT tests in a small business may be reasonable and practical to prevent danger, but is it appropriate? Well, make sure your insurance doesn’t require annual tests first, and if not, you can assess the risk appropriate. For example power tools on a building site will need testing more often than annual, but a computer on a desk in an office probably won’t need testing as often. More information is available on our PAT testing frequency page.

Who can do PAT?

Someone who has enough knowledge or experience to avoid danger; someone deemed competent to do so.

The duty holder of an organisation must decide who they deem competent and what evidence of knowledge or experience they require;

Competence is dependent on many factors, such environment and equipment types.

HSE Guidance states that the scope of technical knowledge or experience should include:

  • adequate knowledge of electricity
  • adequate knowledge of the electrical work being carried out
  • adequate understanding of the system to be worked on and practical experience of that class of system
  • understanding of the hazards which may arise during the work and the precautions which need to be taken
  • the ability to recognise whether it is safe for work to continue

As a PAT testing company we take these factors into consideration whenever we are quoting for or doing a job; if you have someone in-house or considering appointing someone in-house to do your PAT, or thinking about whether you can do PAT yourself, you need to make sure they meet these requirements for competence.

There is no single training course that can make a person ‘competent’. Competency comes from an up to date knowledge and experience, supported by evidence, that allows a duty holder to determine if someone is competent.

You’ll see one day competency courses online; they don’t cover everything you need to be competent to do PAT. We have done PAT for many years and have a huge amount of knowledge and experience, but still don’t know everything. However, there is much more chance of us being competent to PAT test your equipment than someone you appoint in-house.

It’s worth remembering this important factor..

If you employ a sub contractor to do your PAT, and something goes wrong, an HSE investigation will ask you as the duty holder why you deemed that contractor competent, and what evidence you have to support that.

Our engineers are experienced; they hold City and Guilds qualifications, have varying degrees of electrical training and qualifications, have different levels of experience. Some are best suited to offices whilst others operate better in industrial environments. Between us we cover most scenarios. However we also know what we are not capable of, and if the job you want doing requires something we can’t, we’re honest enough to say that upfront. Not all companies do that.

What makes a person competent to PAT?

The Electricity at Work Regulations state that… ‘no person shall be engaged in any work activity where technical knowledge or experience is necessary to prevent danger or, where appropriate, injury, unless he possesses such knowledge or experience, or is under such degree of supervision as may be appropriate having regard to the nature of the work’. 

What needs PAT testing?

Electrical appliances fitted with a plug, need PAT testing. That plug could be the standard 3-pin type we all use at home on our kettles and toasters, sealed rubber plugs on our laptop chargers, iPhone USB plugs, etc. or it could be a more specialist plug, like the yellow 110v adaptors used on power tools on building sites; blue 230v adaptors used more often in factories and commercial kitchens, red 400v adaptors or even other adaptors and plugs used in the theatres. The list goes on and on, but if it plugs in, it is portable.

Some ‘fixed’ appliances are also considered portable, such as kettles or hairdryers in hotels. They are still portable but have been secured to the mains for security or other purposes. Whilst these are still portable, they are secured to the mains supply so can’t be unplugged. They can’t be tested without being removed via their wires, from the mains, which means turning off the power and unwiring them. See below for more information on this issue that causes much discussion.