PAT Testing Explained - everything you need to know




Portable appliance testing (PAT) is the term used to describe the examination of electrical appliances and equipment to ensure they are safe to use. Most electrical safety defects can be found by visual examination but some types of defect can only be found by testing.


A full PAT test should include a visual inspection and a more in-depth check using specialist PAT testing equipment. This involves testing earth continuity, lead polarity, and insulation resistance checks.


At the end of every PAT test, each appliance should be marked ‘passed’ or ‘failed’. These records should then be recorded into a database.



There are 7 categories of appliance which should be considered for PAT testing:


  1. IT appliances

  2. Stationary appliances

  3. Fixed appliances

  4. Moveable appliances

  5. Hand Held appliances

  6. Cables and chargers

  7. Portable appliances


Is PAT Testing legally required?


PAT testing is not, in itself, a legal requirement. However, current UK legislation states that businesses must maintain electrical equipment in a safe condition.


Businesses have legal responsibility to ensure the safety of employees and the public.

Because PAT testing is one of the most effective ways to ensure safety, it has become a standard way of meeting this legal requirement.


If you would like to read the specific guidance concerning electrical equipment at work, you can find this in a number of pieces of legislation:


Risks of not meeting legal obligations


The result of being found to not meet legal obligations on electrical appliance safety can be as high as 2 years’ imprisonment, as well as an unlimited financial penalty.


Who is resposible?


The ‘Employer’ is responsible for electrical appliance safety. In larger businesses a ‘competent person’ is often appointed by the employer, whose role is to make sure the company is compliant.


What are electrical classes?


Electrical appliances are categorised as Class 1, 2 or 3, with Class 1 being the most dangerous and Class 3 the least dangerous.


The class of an appliance helps determine whether it needs to be PAT tested and to what degree. 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.


Class 1 appliances This type of electrical equipment has only basic insulation and relies on an earth for protection.


Class 2 appliances This type of electrical equipment has extra insulation and so doesn’t rely on an earth for protection, which makes it safer.


Class 3 appliances Class 3 appliances are low voltage items and are the safest class of electrical appliance. Their charging leads may need to be PAT tested.


How often should electrical items be tested?


There are no specific rules for the frequency of PAT tests. However, the regulations say that the level of precaution taken should be ‘appropriate’ to the risk.



Would you like to know more about how Protest ES Ltd can help protect your business, staff, and visitors, thus keeping you safe and legally compliant with the latest regulations?



Please do not hesitate to contact us, by calling this number: 01604 696113 today. Or contact us via email: enquiries@protestesltd.co.uk