Is PAT Testing A Legal Requirement?
Posted: 07/12/2023
4 minute read
Is PAT Testing a legal requirement?
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Is PAT Testing A Legal Requirement?

No, PAT testing itself is not a legal requirement, but each year in the UK there are thousands of electrical fires. While some of these are undoubtedly from misuse or a misunderstanding of an electrical item, plenty of them will be due to faulty or damaged items.

That’s why PAT testing of electrical equipment is so vital. But what is PAT testing and is it something you need if you’re a landlord or business owner? That’s what we’ll be discussing this month here at Surrey Tech Services Ltd.

Is PAT Testing a legal requirement?


What is a PAT test?

PAT is an acronym for ‘portable appliance testing’, so it’s unusual that we still follow the acronym up with ‘test’ or ‘testing’, but this is what it’s generally known as. 

Portable appliance testing is the electrical safety testing of appliances and other devices performed by a qualified electrician. Essentially, it’s any electrical item not fully fixed in, so an integrated oven, for example, would not be PAT tested.


Do I need a PAT test?

While we mentioned at the beginning of this piece that PAT testing is not currently a legal requirement in the UK, there are several pieces of legislation concerning workplace safety that mean you definitely should conduct PAT testing or have a good alternative to it in place.

    • The Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 – requires employers to provide safe working environments, and as such impacts the need for proof of electrical safety
    • The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 – focuses centrally on the suitability and maintenance of electrical systems in the workplace
    • The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 – known as PUWER, this also requires employers to ensure electrical equipment is well maintained
  • The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 – places an onus on employees to comply with health and safety practices in the workplace
  • The Housing Act 2004 (England & Wales) – Sets out the obligation of landlords to provide safe housing, including implementing electrical safety measures
  • The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 – requires landlords to put in place testing of all electrical installations at least once every five years

If you, as a landlord or business owner, are found not to be meeting these legal obligations for electrical safety, you could face a prison sentence and/or an unlimited fine. A lot depends on each individual situation, but it certainly pays to stay on top of PAT testing to avoid falling foul of the law.


What is the purpose of PAT testing?

Above, we focused on the legal benefits of PAT testing to meet a variety of legislative obligations, however, the real purpose of PAT testing is to keep people safe. 

Hundreds of people die in fires every year, with almost all homes and businesses featuring a variety of appliances and electrical items that could be at fault. It simply makes sense to test your electrical items, as it not only checks they’re working at their best, but also points out any safety issues so that you can act to remove the risk altogether by replacing or repairing the item.

One additional benefit of PAT testing is that it will also prevent your building and any assets from being unnecessarily damaged in an electrical fire. This is especially important if your business relies on electrical items as an integral part of your work. Offices are a good example of this, with countless computers, laptops and other electrical devices dotted across a small space.


Which items should be PAT tested?

A laptop is a Class 3 item requiring PAT testing

There are many items in offices and across all commercial spaces that should undergo PAT testing, divided into three categories (class 1, class 2 and class 3). Class 1 is items that need a full test as they are deemed to be more dangerous, while class 3 is considered the least dangerous. 

Here is a list of some of the typical items split into different classes that require PAT testing:

  • Class 1
    • Desktop computers
    • Toasters
    • Kettles 
    • Laptop cables
    • Electric heaters
    • Extension cables
    • Floorstanding printers
  • Class 2
    • Lamps
    • Televisions
    • Desktop printers
    • Hairdryers
    • Blenders
  • Class 3
    • Laptops
    • Cameras
    • Phone chargers


If you need the expert assistance of a local, commercial electrician in London or the Home Counties – including Maidenhead, Guildford and Slough – look no further than our qualified team. We provide a full range of electrical services to help ensure your site is kept safe, including our electrical safety certificate service and Electrical Installation Condition Reports — we can even conduct full electrical fit-outs for new developments.

Whether you’re a landlord or a business owner, call us today to discuss how our professional, NICEIC-approved electricians can help you.

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    Call us now on 08081 689 497 to find out more about our fire alarm design, installation and maintenance services.