Martindale's logo sits on a black background at the top-left of the image. Beneath it, white text reads 'Martindale Outlines the Requirements for PAT Testing'. On the right, a Martindale PAT tester shows a PASS result.

In recent blog posts, Martindale Electric’s Steve Dunning and Paul Wilson outline PAT testing and training requirements. In doing so, they have answered many common PAT testing FAQs. This blog summarises the information presented by Dunning and Wilson.[1]  

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Why Is PAT Testing Important?

In short, to ensure user safety. Visual inspections of portable appliances are good but they can only tell you so much; for instance, you cannot tell whether there has been damage to the insulation within an appliance from a visual inspection nor can you know whether the earth bond (safety earth connector) within the electrical item has become disconnected. Only PAT testing the instrument will reveal these kinds of faults and help you to protect yourself, your staff, and/or your clients from electric shocks or injuries, and, in the worst cases, fatalities. In a recent blog post, Martindale’s Steve Dunning asserts that  

“According to The Health and Safety Executive, 25% of all reportable electrical accidents involve portable appliances. From these figures, it is clear that a large number of incidents and injuries caused by misuse or faulty electrical equipment can be prevented with proper electrical checking, inspection and safety testing”.[2]

Furthermore, maintaining compliance with PAT testing guidelines, and therefore the law which requires employers “to ensure that their electrical equipment is maintained in order to prevent danger”[3], is often an essential condition of many insurance policies.

What Equipment Needs PAT Testing?

Martindale’s Paul Wilson explains that the Electricity at Work Regulations 4.2 defines electrical equipment as

“[including] anything used, or intended to be used or installed for use, to generate, provide, transmit, transform, rectify, convert, conduct, distribute, control, store, measure or use electrical energy.”[4]

Based on this definition, Wilson advises that the Electricity at Work Regulations apply to all portable and transportable appliances. Therefore, regular PAT testing of these instruments can help ensure compliance with previously stipulated maintenance requirements.

Who Can PAT Test?

Absolutely any competent person can PAT test. The IET 5th Edition Code of Practice defines a competent person as

“A person possessing sufficient technical knowledge or experience to be capable of ensuring that injury is prevented.”[5]

Generally, a person considered to have acceptable knowledge or experience will have adequate:

  • Knowledge of electricity
  • Understanding and practical experience of the system to be worked on
  • Awareness of the hazards that may arise and the precautions that should be taken

What Qualifications Do You Need to PAT Test?

Technically you don’t require any official qualifications to PAT test. However, you must be able to prove competency. The best way to do that is to enrol on a PAT testing course and gain a certificate of competency. Attending a PAT testing course in person is preferable to watching a video/online course as 'traditional' training offers the chance both to learn the theory and get experience using PAT testers to check various appliances. Video or online training courses are convenient and provided a useful way of learning over the pandemic; nevertheless, the additional practical component and opportunity to learn from experienced industry professionals means traditional ‘classroom’ courses will offer a superior, more comprehensive training experience.

At PASS Ltd, we offer two PAT training courses delivered in multiple locations across the UK.

1-Day PAT Testing Competency Course

Ideal for businesses wishing to train staff members to PAT test, this practical- and theory-based course offers the chance to use a range of PAT testers to check various appliances, and covers the following topics:

  • Overview of PAT testing and what it is
  • Why PAT testing is important
  • PAT testing requirements
  • The IET Code of Practice
  • Basic electrical theory

The course concludes with an open-book, multiple-choice exam. Once you pass this exam, you will be awarded a Certificate of Competency in PAT Testing.

More Information

2-Day City & Guilds 2377-77 PAT Training Course

Upon completion of this theory-based course and passing the online exam, you will be awarded a recognised qualification in PAT testing from City & Guilds, a leading qualification body within electrical training. This course is recommended for those wishing to PAT test professionally and/or set up a PAT testing business. Those responsible for maintaining portable appliances in workplaces may also find this course helpful. We recommend that you are familiar with the following before undertaking this course:

  • IET Code of Practice 5th Edition
  • Electrical theory
  • Ohms Law
  • Basic maths

More Information

Who Needs PAT Training?

Anybody responsible for the inspection, testing, and maintenance of portable appliances whether employed or self-employed must be trained in PAT testing. This includes:

  • Nominated staff members responsible for maintaining equipment in offices and other workplaces
  • Landlords
  • Caretakers/janitors
  • Charity/second-hand shops selling recycled electrical goods
  • Anyone offering PAT testing as a service

How Often Should PAT Testing Be Carried Out?

Recent changes to the IET Code of Practice (5th Edition) advise that test frequency should be specific to each appliance. Guidelines highlight eight risk factors (see below) that should be considered when ascertaining how often to test an appliance. This means it is no longer acceptable to test all appliances annually as some may require more frequent checking, while others may not need electrical testing at all.

What Are the Risk Factors Highlighted in the IET 5th Edition Code of Practice?

The IET 5th Edition Code of Practice instructs individuals to consider the following eight risk factors when assessing how often appliances need to be PAT tested.

  1. Environment: appliances used on construction sites are more likely to sustain damage compared to those used in offices; therefore, construction site appliances will require more frequent testing.
  2. Users: how vigilant are the users of the equipment? Are they inclined to report issues or not? You should take this into account when deciding on a test frequency.
  3. Equipment Construction: the structural integrity of the appliance, or its Class (Class I or Class II), should be considered when determining test frequency.
  4. Equipment Type: handheld equipment is more likely to sustain damage than fixed equipment; this means that handheld equipment may need to be tested more frequently.
  5. Frequency of Use: equipment that is constantly used will undergo more stress over its lifetime, increasing the chances of damage; therefore, continually used equipment will need to be checked more often than sporadically used instruments.
  6. Installation Method: when ascertaining PAT testing frequency, the installation method should be taken into account, particularly when assessing fixed equipment.
  7. Previous Records: looking at an appliance’s past records provides information about the previous testing frequency and the instrument's maintenance history both of which are important factors to consider when determining test frequency going forward.
  8. Functional In-service Life: some appliances, such as certain pieces of IT equipment, have an intentionally short service life and may need to be tested and/or replaced more frequently.

Read More About Updates to the IET 5th Edition Code of Practice

Further Information

For more help and advice regarding PAT testing, our PAT courses, and/or our extensive range of PAT testers and PAT testing Kits, including models by Martindale, please contact our team on 01642 931 329 or via our online form.

[1] Information for this blog was gathered using the following sources:

[2] Dunning, How safe is your workplace?

[3] HSE, PAT – Portable appliance testing FAQs, last accessed 06 April 2022

[4] HSE, The Electricity at Work Regulations. Guidance of Regulations, p.7, last accessed 06 April 2022, and Wilson, PAT Testing Code of Practice

[5] Dunning, How safe is your workplace?