Testing Electrical Equipment

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 requires electrical equipment to be maintained in a safe condition. It does not specify how you must do this or how often however, you should decide the level of maintenance needed according to the type of equipment and the environment it is used in.

How frequent should equipment be tested?

The type and frequency of testing will depend upon the equipment and the environment it is used in. The HSE recommend electrical equipment is checked at regular intervals to ensure continual safety however, there is no legal requirement for equipment to be tested on an annual basis.

What type of tests should be conducted and who by?

There are three main types of testing for electrical equipment:

  • User checks - User checks should be carried out before most electrical equipment is used. The person using the equipment should look for any damage, signs of overheating or anything that would make the equipment unsafe to use such as trapped cables.

  • Visual Inspections – A  visual examination is an essential part of the inspection process and should be part of your periodic maintenance. In many low-risk environments, a competent member of staff can undertake visual inspections if they have enough knowledge and training. However, they need to know what to look for and have sufficient knowledge to avoid danger to yourself and others.

  • Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) – PAT is the examination of electrical appliances and equipment to ensure they are safe to use. A portable appliance test does not need to be carried out by an electrician, however the person performing the test must have the right equipment for the test, know how to use it and how to interpret the results.

How should tests get recorded?

There is no legal requirement to record tests or label equipment to show it has been tested. However recording and labelling can be a useful monitoring and review tool as well as a way to demonstrate there is a maintenance scheme.