What is portable appliance testing?

In layman’s terms, PAT or portable appliance testing refers to the checking over of electrical goods, equipment or appliances for businesses and public settings, making sure they are in full working order and safe to use.

Whilst ‘portable appliance’ is an umbrella term, it typically refers to anything that has a plug attached and would be connected to your standard wall socket in order to receive power and function properly.

Although it’s often easy enough to spot safety issues or defects in electricals, there are some issues that can only be discovered through proper internal testing – it is important to perform both kinds of inspections regularly.

Any fault or damage to an electrical item is a possible hazard to you and others around you, so it must be dealt with ASAP.

What does it involve?

First, the PAT tester will perform a thorough visual inspection to check for anything like frayed or damaged wiring, broken casing, and other possible hazards with your equipment. These are obvious problems, but no less important to spot!

After this, they will use specialist equipment to perform several integral inspections, including checking for earth continuity, insulation resistance, and lead polarity in your appliance, all of which can cause problems and lead to injury if malfunctioning.

Depending on the equipment, it may only require a shorter version of the PAT test, referred to as PAT insulation testing, in order to be properly maintained. Either way, you’ll receive a “pass” or a “fail” from the inspector.

Your test result and the date the test was carried out are clearly displayed on a label placed on the appliance, and should also be recorded in a PAT testing log so you can keep a clear record of maintaining your electricals upon request.

How often should it be done?

According to the Electricity At Work Regulations from 1989, any electrical equipment which may cause harm or injury must be maintained and kept in a safe condition, but there is no legal requirement for how regularly this must be performed.

How often you test a piece of equipment depends on what it is being used for. Power tools for use in commercial settings, for instance, should be examined far more regularly than you would inspect a TV in a reception area, for instance.

This guide from Gov.UK offers thorough advice on how best to maintain your electrical equipment, as well as offering suggestions for the regularity at which these checks are performed for various kinds of electrical appliances.

What are the consequences if it isn’t carried out regularly?

First things first, you’re disobeying the Electrical Equipment Safety Regulations of 1994, which asks that you regularly maintain your appliances, as well as the Consumer Protection Act from 1987 if you’re a business.

Consequences for failing to produce evidence that you regularly PAT test your equipment in the event of an accident or injury could result in:

  • £5,000 fines for every item that does not meet the government regulations outlined above – this could be as high as £20,000 for multiple infractions
  • Up to six months in prison, though the worst offenders have been known to be sentenced with two years
  • The potential to be charged with manslaughter if there is a fatality as a result of electrical injuries
  • Paying out civil damages should the victim of the electrical injury decide to sue
  • Potential invalidation of your business and property insurance

As you can see, PAT testing for your business is incredibly important, not just for you and your staff, but also for the safety of your customers, as well as protecting your legal rights.

Looking for a reputable company to perform your PAT testing up north? AMS Solutions offer Portable Appliance Testing in Manchester and the North-West. For more information, please call 01204 216955 or send a message using our contact form

Plug sockets in wall

What is portable appliance testing?


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