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Is Portable Appliance Testing a legal requirement?

The simple answer is no. However, legislation requires the responsible person within an organisation, to ensure that their electrical equipment is safe for continued use. Although legislation does not say how this should be done, PAT Testing is widely recognised and probably the only method of cost effectively complying with relevant legislation.
PAT Testing is also rapidly becoming a standard annual requirement of insurance companies, before a commercial or business policy is issued or renewed. This is because over 1,000 electric shock incidents are being reported to the Health & Safety Executive every year – some fatal.  As a result, more and more companies are now mitigating their risk by including PAT Testing as part of their electrical equipment Health & Safety regime.
The IET Code of Practice for the In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment (4th Edition),  can be used to prove negligence under current legislation in the event of an electrical appliance related accident where a suitable safety regime is either not in place or is inadequate.

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974

This act puts a duty of care on both employers and employees, “to ensure the safety of all persons using work premises”, including the Self-Employed.

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

This regulation 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”.

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998

This regulation states that, “every employer shall ensure that work equipment is so constructed or adapted as to be suitable for the purpose for which it is used or provided”.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

This regulation states that, “every employer shall make a suitable assessment of; (a) the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed while they are at work, and (b) the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking”.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

This regulation states that, “every employer shall ensure that the workplace equipment, devices and systems are maintained and where appropriate, equipment, devices and systems shall be subject to a suitable system of maintenance”.

The Housing Act 2004 (England and Wales)

This act requires Landlords to ensure that, “rented residential properties are subject to risk assessment in order to provide a safe and healthy environment for any occupiers or visitors and this includes electrical equipment”.

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994

This regulation requires landlords providing electrical equipment as part of a tenancy, “to take reasonable steps to ensure that the appliances are safe”.