PAT testing on building and construction sites: what you need to know

PAT testing on building and construction sites: what you need to know

PAT testing on building sites

PAT testing can ensure that your electrical equipment stays safe and your business stays legally compliant.

This is especially important on building sites that may rely on construction equipment like electric welders, cement mixers, and temporary lighting.

Not sure what PAT testing on building sites entails? We’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you understand what needs testing, who needs to test it, and how often you need to carry out testing.

What is PAT testing?

Portable appliance (PAT) testing is when electrical equipment is tested for safety.

As well as visual tests that check there is no damage to the casing, cable, or plug, electrical tests ensure the equipment is wired correctly and has high levels of insulation.

If the equipment passes inspection, you can keep using it. If it fails, it is removed from use, where you can decide whether to repair or replace it.

PAT testing is also known as electrical equipment testing.

Find out more in our ultimate guide to PAT testing

Do you need to carry out PAT testing on construction sites and building sites?

There are no laws in place that specify that you are required to test electrical equipment on a building or construction site.

However, there are many laws in place that specify that you need to keep employees, site visitors, and customers safe.

PAT testing is one of the best ways to avoid electric shocks and fires on building and construction sites.

Why is PAT testing so important on building and construction sites?

PAT testing industrial equipment is vital for the following reasons:

  • It ensures your equipment is safe to use and will not cause injury or damage
  • It may allow you to get insurance for your construction or building project
  • It can give you an indication of when a piece of equipment needs repairing or replacing – this means more chance of completing work on time and less chance of holdups
  • It provides you with an asset list, which can be valuable if equipment is lost or stolen

As well as on building and construction sites, it’s also vital to carry out regular PAT testing on buildings on industrial estates. Fires can spread quickly when buildings are close to each other, meaning damage and potential loss of life. 

A nursery in Wales was destroyed following a blaze that started in a warehouse on an industrial estate.

What equipment needs to be PAT tested on a building or construction site?

Any equipment plugged into a power source needs PAT testing. This is regardless of whether it is portable or not.

Equipment that runs off an alternative power source (for example, diesel) doesn’t need testing. While battery-powered equipment might not require testing, battery chargers that are plugged into a power source would need testing.

Do you need to PAT test hired equipment?

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016 and Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 state that hire companies must deliver electrical equipment in a safe condition.

However, if you’re hiring the equipment for an extended time (typically over a week) and it isn’t specified in the contract, the company hiring the equipment is responsible for its safety. This means including it in your PAT testing schedule.

How often should PAT testing be done on a building or construction site?

Many companies recommend that PAT testing on building sites be carried out every three months. The logic behind this is that electrical equipment on building sites is subject to more frequent handling that can cause wear and tear, as well as exposure to the elements.

In the past, construction sites used 110v equipment as it was easy to carry around and safer – this equipment reduced the risk of shock if someone accidentally cut the cable. 

It was common practice for 110v equipment to be tested every three months to ensure safety; however we are now seeing 110v electrical equipment phased out in favour of battery-operated equipment.

The 5th Edition of the IET Code of Practice for In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment advises that the exact frequency of testing is determined by risk assessment.

A risk assessment will take into account:

  • How often the equipment is used
  • The condition of the equipment
  • What conditions the equipment is used in. For example, electrical equipment used in the winter in cold, wet conditions will need testing more frequently than electrical equipment used in the summer

If you’re not sure where to start, get in touch, and we’ll be happy to advise you on the correct PAT testing frequency for your needs.

Who is responsible for PAT testing on a building or construction site?

The employer or principal contractor is ultimately responsible for health and safety on a construction site. If something happens, they will be liable.

They will nominate a duty holder who will be responsible for ensuring health and safety on site, including organising PAT testing.

Who can carry out PAT testing on a building or construction site?

Any ‘competent’ person can carry out PAT testing. By ‘competent’, we mean someone who understands what PAT testing is, how it works, and has previous experience working with electricity.

It’s the duty holder’s responsibility to ensure that whoever carries out PAT testing has the skills and knowledge to do so.

This can be an employee or a third-party company, for example, Hawkesworth.

Need help PAT testing industrial equipment? Hawkesworth is here to help.

With over 30 years of experience carrying out PAT testing for building and construction sites, our team of electrical engineers will ensure your equipment is compliant and fully functional.

When you work on a construction site, safety is your number one priority. At Hawkesworth, we’ll ensure you stay safe and protect your staff.

Get in touch today for your free, no-obligation quote.

We’re the UKs Number 1  trusted voice of experience in the industry, who are regularly consulted to give our expert opinions with industry governing bodies.

Through our national network of fully certified engineers, Hawkesworth provide a range of technical compliance and testing services to ensure you’re not at risk – we’ve got you covered!

From your Electrical Installation and Portable Appliances with EICRPAT and Thermographic surveys to Fire Safety with Fire Risk Assessments, Fire Alarm Testing and Emergency Lighting.

Get in touch and see how we can help you