Professional Portable Appliance Testing

Frequently Asked Questions

Nearly a quarter of all reportable electrical accidents involve portable equipment
The vast majority of these accidents result in electric shock


What is a Portable Appliance?
There is no universally accepted definition of what is meant by portable or transportable electrical equipment. However, for guidance it means equipment that is not part of a fixed installation, but is intended to be connected to a fixed installation, or a generator, by means of a flexible cable and either a plug and socket, or a spur box, or similar means. This includes equipment that is either hand-held or hand-operated while connected to the supply, intended to be moved while connected to the supply, or likely to be moved while connected to the supply. The electrical supply to the equipment is assumed to be at a voltage that can give a fatal electrical shock to a person, i.e. more than 50 V ac or 120 V dc

How often do Portable Appliances have to be tested?
Deciding on the frequency of inspection and testing is a matter of judgment by the duty holder, and should be based on an assessment of risk. This can be undertaken as part of the assessment of risks under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

At myPATtesting we can advise on the frequency of testing, either following an audit or as general guidance based on the IEE recommendations

What should I consider when deciding what Portable Appliances need to be tested?
Some of the factors that need to be considered when making the assessment should include the following:

Type of equipment and whether it is handheld or not
Manufacturer's recommendations
Initial integrity and soundness of equipment
Age of the equipment
Working environment in which the equipment is used (eg wet or dusty) or likelihood of mechanical damage
Frequency of use and the duty cycle of the equipment
Foreseeable abuse of the equipment
Effects of any modifications or repairs to the equipment
Analysis of previous records of maintenance, including both formal inspection and combined inspection and testing

What are my legal duties?
The particular legal requirements relating to the use and maintenance of electrical equipment are contained in the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (EAW). These Regulations apply to all work activities involving electrical equipment. They place duties on employers, the self-employed (including landlords) and employees (subsequently referred to as duty holders). These duties are intended to control risks arising from the use of electricity.

The Regulations are goal-setting, describing safety objectives to be achieved, without prescribing the measures to be taken. This allows the duty holder to select precautions appropriate to the risk rather than having precautions imposed that may not be relevant to a particular work activity. For further information see the Memorandum of Guidance on the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

EAW Regulation 4(2) requires that all systems be maintained, so far as reasonably practicable, to prevent danger. This requirement covers all items of electrical equipment including fixed, portable and transportable equipment. Particular actions that can be taken in order to maintain portable and transportable equipment, and thereby prevent danger. The Memorandum also gives guidance on the meaning of 'reasonably practicable'

What is a RISK?
A simple definition of risk is the chance (large or small) of harm actually being done when things go wrong (eg, risk of electric shock from faulty equipment)

What is a HAZARD?
A simple definition of a hazard is anything that can cause harm if things go wrong (eg, a fault on equipment)