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The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, require that any electrical equipment, that has the potential to cause injury, is maintained in a safe condition.
Follow the link below to access the HSE Maintaining portable electrical equipment HSG107 (Third edition) On page 16 of the document, there is a useful table for suggested initial, maintenance intervals for portable appliance testing.
More common questions asked about portable appliance testing is available here.
Self -employed individuals have a duty to ensure that their portable electrical appliances are safe, are suitable, and used for the purposes intended.
Normally if a contractor supplies their own tools and equipment then they would be responsible for its maintenance and upkeep, and would need to supply you with a Pat Test Register of their equipment that they have on your site, to provide assurance that it is safe to use.
The regulations do not specify what needs to be done, by whom or how frequently
(They do not make inspection or testing of electrical appliances a legal requirement, nor do they make it a legal requirement to undertake this annually.
The process of completing periodic testing usually means all electrical testing is done on a site every five years, testing all electrical installations for efficiency and flagging up any dangers that need to be rectified.
Instead of this, many firms now also opt to complete fixed wire testing in instances of 20% over the five yearly period, bringing in contractors to assess the building systematically over the next half-decade.
This new approach to fixed wire testing comes because of amendments to the IEE's wiring regulations, which states that electrical installations should not be left for five years, as was previously the case. Instead, the procedure generally involves completing an annual visual check of electrical installations for damage that may have happened over the year, while the 20% physical check is also adopted by many organisations as well.
More information can be found on the IET Electrical Excellence here.
A cordless power tool would not need to be PAT tested but their battery chargers that plug into the wall for power do need to be tested.
All 110-volt equipment in addition to all 3-phase equipment must also be tested.
The frequency of inspection and testing depends upon the type of equipment being used, and the environment that it is being used in.
For example, a power tool used on a construction site must be examined more frequently than a lamp in a hotel bedroom.
Normally the HSE would expect to see a Pat Test register with regular testing done and in an office environment at least yearly.
For more guidance relating to inspection and testing, visit the HSE website here.
BESA members have access to a free dedicated health and safety helpline. For all of your health and safety questions contact one of our BESA representatives on 01768 860452.
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