PAT Testing Legislation
& Legal Requirements
There are several main sets of legislation in the United Kingdom that apply to the inspection and testing of in-service electrical equipment:
The Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA)
This Act places a duty upon employers to secure 'the health, safety and welfare of persons at work' and also any other persons connected with 'the activities of persons at work'.
An employer has a duty for 'the provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health'.
The Act places a duty upon an employer or self employed person to secure the health and safety of persons 'not in his employment'. Collectively, the provisions laid down, place a duty upon all employers, self employed persons and organisations which have premises that are open to the public, to ensure that persons working within or using their premises or facilities are safe.
Right-click to download The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 (PDF)
The Management of the Health & Safety at Work Act Regulations 1999
In order that the HSWA can be effectively implemented in the workplace, every employer has to carry out a risk assessment to ensure that employees (and those not in their employ), are not subject to danger.
Right-click to download The Management of the Health & Safety at Work Act Regulations 1999 (PDF)
The Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
Work equipment must be constructed in such a way that it is suitable for the purpose for which it is to be used. Once again, the employer is responsible for these arrangements. It is the duty of every employer to: 'ensure that work equipment is so constructed or adapted as to be suitable for the purpose for which it is used or provided'.
The Regulations also cover the duty of employers to carry out risk assessments with regards to 'the health and safety of persons which exist in the premises'. Clearly, employers have a duty, not only to employees, but also to any visitors to their premises.
Covers maintenance under S.5.(1) 'Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair'. S.5(2) provides that maintenance logs be kept up to date.
Covers inspection under S.6(1) Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is inspected: (a) 'after installation and before being put into service' (b) 'after assembly at a new site or location'. It can be seen that even new equipment should be inspected before use. Equipment moved to a new location should be inspected to ensure that it has been properly assembled and has not been damaged during transit. S.6(2) places a duty on every employer to ensure that work equipment subject to deterioration is inspected at: S.6(2)(a) 'suitable intervals' S.6(2)(b) 'each time that exceptional circumstances which are liable to jeopardise the safety of work equipment have occurred'.
They also provide that electrical systems and equipment be regularly inspected and tested to ensure that they are safe for use and that additional inspection and testing is necessary after possible damage due to fire, flood etc.
The inspection and testing should be carried out by a 'competent person', this being a person with the necessary skills, experience and qualifications.
Right-click to download The Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PDF)
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (EWR)
These regulations, in particular, are very relevant to the inspection and testing of in-service electrical equipment.
It states that, 'As may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, such danger' and provides that electrical equipment shall be 'maintained in a condition suitable for that use'.
It can be seen that these regulations place a duty upon employers and owners to ensure that all electrical systems and equipment are regularly inspected and (if need be) repaired to ensure that they are safe to use.
There are two important definitions in the EWR: the electrical system and the duty holder.
This is anything that generates, stores, transmits or uses electrical energy, from a power station to a wrist-watch battery. The latter would not give a person an electric shock, but could explode if heated, giving rise to possible injury from burns.
This is anyone (employer, employee, self-employed person etc.) who has 'control' of an electrical system. Control in this sense means designing, installing, working with or maintaining such systems. Duty holders have a legal responsibility to ensure their own safety and the safety of others whilst in control of an electrical system.
The EWR do not specifically mention portable appliance testing and inspection; they simply require electrical systems to be 'maintained' in a condition so as not to cause danger. However, the only way we know if a system needs to be maintained is if it is inspected and tested, and so the need for such inspection and testing of a system is implicit in the requirement for it to be maintained.
Anyone who inspects and tests and electrical system is, in law, a duty holder and must be competent to undertake such work.
Offences committed under The Electricity at Work Regulation 1989 may be liable for : £20,000 fine for each offence in Magistrates' Court and unlimited fines/prison sentences in Crown Court.
Right-click to download The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (PDF)
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
Right-click to download The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (PDF)
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
The Order places a duty on employers (as a 'responsible person') to carry out an annual risk assessment in order to ensure the safety of all persons he/she is responsible for. Employers are required to compile a policy document detailing safety procedures in relation to fire safety, which will include staff training procedures and evacuation drills training.
Right-click to download The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (PDF)
Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007
Right-click to download Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (PDF)
Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008
Right-click to download Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008 (PDF)