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Health and Safety

What is PAT testing? Process of PAT testing


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What is PAT testing? Let’s rephrase with the full form. What is Portable Appliance Testing? PAT Testing is the process of inspecting and testing electrical appliances for safety through a series of visual and electronic inspections.

Now the question is why do we PAT test? It is required since it determines whether portable equipment is suitable for use in the workplace. It reduces the risk to the user and other business workers by ensuring that there is little chance of accidental injury due to malfunctioning electronics.

If you want to learn more about what is PAT testing?

What is PAT Test?


According to Wikipedia, in the UK, government estates were the first to implement formal portable appliance testing and inspection of both electrical installations and high-risk type of equipment to ensure the safety. This was under the control of the Property Services Agency – prior to 1972 the Ministry of Public Building and Works.

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From the early 1960s onwards, testing was done on a three-month (high-risk) and six-month (low-risk) basis in some circumstances. An insulation resistance tester, simple hand tools, and eye inspection were employed in most cases, and extensive record-keeping was kept in logbooks.

Workers may see evidence of testing in the form of stickers that read passed tested for electrical safety and do not use after being mounted to various areas of the electrical equipment. This testing and inspection took place before the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Electricity at Work Act 1989, as part of a planned maintenance program. All of these laws and requirements are referred to as the PAT testing British Standard in the United Kingdom.

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PAT Test

The term “portable appliance testing” refers to the process of inspecting electrical appliances and equipment to ensure that they are safe to use. The majority of electrical safety faults can be seen visually, while some defects can only be detected by testing.

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What Does PAT Stand For?

PAT test stands for Portable Appliance Testing. It can also be defined as the process of examining portable electrical devices and appliances to confirm that they are suitable for use in the workplace.

It’s crucial to be aware of risks that aren’t evident to the human eye when conducting portable appliance testing, as they can be difficult to identify. Electrical workers’ tools, instruments, and equipment frequently have unique design qualities that, if not protected, can result in serious electric risks.

What Does a PAT Test Consist of?

A PAT test includes a visual inspection and a more thorough check using specialized equipment. This test checks for earth continuity, lead polarity, and insulation resistance. Some appliances only require a simplified test, called a PAT insulation test.

Why PAT Test is Important?

“Why is PAT testing important?” is a question that most of us have. The following information provides a quick overview-

  • It is crucial since it assures that all “portable” electronics in the workplace are safe to use. In this case, the term “portable” is a little confusing, although it generally refers to anything that can be plugged into a wall outlet.
  • It certifies that portable gadgets are safe to use in the workplace.
  • It reduces the risk to the user and other business workers by analysing risk environments and ensuring that there is little chance of accidental injury due to malfunctioning electronics.
  • It also reduces the possibility of more serious damage to electrical equipment, which can result in costly repairs or replacements.

Process of PAT test

Three steps are involved in the PAT test requirements or process, which are discussed below.

The first step is for the user to double-check everything.

  • All users of electrical equipment should receive some basic instruction on how to use the equipment properly and recognise danger indicators.
  • Users should feel comfortable visually inspecting the equipment on a regular basis for visible signs of damage and potential hazards, such as cables caught beneath desks or water hazards.

An electrician examines the cable connection in the electrical line

The second step is to conduct a formal visual inspection.

A formal visual assessment of the equipment should be performed prior to the manual PAT test. This method can detect 90% of problems and can be carried out by a competent person of staff with the appropriate training or a professional.

Before commencing the visual inspection, make sure the equipment is turned off and unplugged. The following items should be included in the checklist:

  • The electrical outlet or plug

Look for evidence of damage, such as cracks, burns, or bent pins, and double-check the wiring. Further, all live, neutral, and earth wires should be tightly linked to their appropriate terminals. If feasible, run an earth continuity test and other relevant electrical tests.

  • The cable

Visually and physically inspect the cable for any damage, such as fraying or cuts.

  • The device

Examine for visible damage such as cracks, burns, corrosion, and wear and tear.

  • The power outlet

Despite the fact that this is not a PAT test, it should be included in the visual inspection. Sockets are tested for mains during a fixed wire test. Examine the shutter mechanism for fractures, evidence of overheating, and any loose fittings.

  • Residual Current Device (RCD) tests

RCDs have a test button and will trip if the current running through the live conductor differs from that flowing through the neutral conductor.

Look for evidence of damage, check the operational current, and test the ‘test’ button to ensure it’s in working order throughout the examination.

  • Analysis of the environment

Check for trip hazards such as cables, extension leads that are overloaded, water hazards, and fire hazards.

An electrician works on an industrial switchboard

The third step is to perform a manual inspection using a portable appliance tester

  • Only a qualified person with the necessary training and equipment should perform this task.
  • For the safest results, it is strongly advised to hire an experienced and licensed tester.
  • A visual check, as well as a manual electrical examination utilising a portable appliance tester device, will be performed by the PAT tester.
  • This will check for earth continuity, lead polarity, and insulation resistance, among other things, and will indicate whether the appliance passed or failed the PAT test.
  • The appliance will be given a pass or fail sticker, and the duty holder should keep track of the results for future reference.
  • Appliances that have failed should not be used and should be removed immediately to be fixed or replaced.
  • After the item has been fixed, it must pass a new test before it can be used again.

PAT Test Passing Score and Guide

To pass the PAT test and be eligible for Quality License Scheme approved and CPD accredited certifications, you must score at least 60% on the exam. Subsequently, after completing the exam, you can apply for a certificate.

PAT testing is not a legal requirement or mandate in and of itself. Current UK regulation, on the other hand, mandates that firms keep their electrical equipment in good working order. They are also legally obligated to safeguard the safety of their employees and the general public.

PAT testing has become a typical method of completing this legal responsibility since it is one of the most effective ways of doing so, particularly in high-risk or big, complex workplaces.

When deciding whether or not an object should be PAT tested, there are two PAT testing rules or key criteria to consider:

  • The product’s electrical ‘class’
  • The product’s ‘category’

The most dangerous electrical appliances are classified as Class 1, Class 2, or Class 3, with Class 1 being the most deadly and Class 3 being the least dangerous.

The class of an appliance determines whether or not it requires PAT testing and to what extent. Class 1 appliances need a full PAT test, Class 2 appliances need a PAT insulation test, and Class 3 appliances don’t need to be PAT tested at all.

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  • Appliances in the first class

This form of electrical equipment simply has rudimentary insulation and is protected by the earth.

  • Appliances in the second class

This form of electrical equipment is safer because it has more insulation and does not rely on the earth for protection.

  • Appliances in the third class

Low-voltage goods are classified as Class 3 appliances, which are the safest type of electrical appliances. It’s possible that their charging cables will need to be PAT tested.

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How Frequently is a PAT Test Required?

There are no set guidelines for how often PAT testing should be performed. The laws, on the other hand, provide that the level of precaution adopted must be “reasonable” for the danger.
The frequency of PAT testing is determined by three key factors:

  • The amount of risk in the work environment
  • The appliance’s electrical class
  • The appliance’s category

The Health and Safety Executive additionally advises that the following be taken into account if necessary:

  • Recommendations from the manufacturer
  • The item’s age
  • The frequency of usage
  • Potential misuse
  • The consequences of any modifications or repairs
  • The item’s history

PAT Test Required


What does PAT testing actually do?

PAT testing is used to see if portable equipment is suitable for use in the workplace.

Do you PAT test fixed appliances?

While portable appliance testing (PAT) only covers individual products like kettles, microwaves, and computers, fixed appliance testing covers any electrical equipment that is permanently wired into a structure.

Do new electrical items need PAT testing?

New equipment should be supplied in a safe condition and not require a formal portable appliance inspection or test. However, a simple visual check is recommended to verify the item is not damaged.

What is classed as a portable appliance for PAT testing?

Any equipment that can connect to a fixed installation or generator may require PAT testing.

How often should portable appliances be PAT tested?

Every 24 months, moveable equipment such as extension leads and portable equipment should be inspected. In addition, handheld equipment should be inspected every 12 months. Further every 12 months, all Class 1 equipment in schools should be PAT tested.

Do cordless tools need to be PAT tested?

PAT testing is not required for cordless power tools, but it is required for battery chargers that plug into the wall for electricity.

Is PAT testing necessary?

No, the law only requires an employer to ensure that their electrical equipment is kept in good working order in order to avoid hazards.

Who is responsible for PAT testing?

If you are an employer, you are responsible for ensuring the PAT testing and safety of all of your employees and visitors.

How long is the PAT test valid for?

A PAT test will result in a PAT certificate, which has no set expiration date and is dependent on other circumstances. Further, every 24 months, portable equipment in hotels, offices, and shops should be retested.

Can you PAT test the washing machine?

Because washing machines are electrical devices that hook into a power source, they must be completely PAT tested.


When it comes to PAT testing, one thing stands out, which is safety. When using electrical appliances, PAT testing is necessary to ensure safety regulations are met. I hope you found this article useful in learning more about PAT testing.

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