A guide to PAT testing in the office

A guide to PAT testing in the office

Health and safety in the office is essential. Being proactive will not only help keep staff happy but also reduce the risk of things going wrong.

One of the ways you can keep your staff and building safe is by PAT testing your electrical appliances on a regular basis.

This comprehensive guide will help you understand more about PAT testing requirements in an office environment, how it works, what you need to test, and how often you need to get it done.

What is PAT testing?

PAT testing (also known as portable appliance testing, electrical appliance testing or electrical equipment inspection) is when equipment is tested to make sure it is safe to use.

PAT testing consists of a thorough visual inspection as well as testing the equipment for internal faults. If equipment passes inspection it is safe to use. If it fails it needs to be repaired or replaced.

Why should my local business get PAT tested?

PAT testing can help your business in many ways, including:

  • Reducing the risk of fire and electric shocks on the premises
  • Providing health and safety reassurance to staff, visitors, customers, and suppliers
  • Telling you which appliances are faulty or are using more energy than usual
  • Validating your insurance in case of an incident
  • Providing an inventory/asset list of electrical equipment on the premises

Who is responsible for PAT testing?

The employer is ultimately responsible for an employee’s health, safety and well-being when they are in the office, in line with The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974).

The person in the office who arranges PAT testing varies from workplace to workplace. In some places, it may be the office manager, in other places it may be the QHSE representative. This person is known as the ‘duty holder’.

Is PAT testing a legal requirement in the workplace?

Many people think you have to have PAT testing done by law, but this is not true.

However, UK legislation does state businesses must make sure electrical equipment in the workplace is maintained in a safe condition, to ensure the safety of staff and the public.

PAT testing is the most effective way to do this.

PAT testing and the law

How often should PAT testing be carried out in offices?

The Electricity at Work Regulations (1989) state all electrical equipment that could cause injury is maintained in a safe condition.

The 5th edition In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment code of practice advises you should carry out a risk assessment to determine how frequently your equipment should be checked.

This will take into consideration how often the equipment is used, the environment it is used in and the lifespan of the equipment.

Some equipment may need testing more or less frequently than others. For example, PC monitors are not subject to the wear and tear that a vacuum cleaner is and as a result, don’t need testing as often.

In conclusion: there is no hard and fast rule to PAT testing frequency in offices. A risk assessment is the easiest way to identify how often your equipment should be checked,

Am I responsible for PAT testing if I am in a rented office?

Yes – you need to make sure that the office is safe for you, as well as for your employees and any visitors.

Some office complexes do provide PAT testing as part of the service they offer to tenants. Check your contract to see if this is the case.

What office equipment needs to be PAT tested?

The phrase ‘PAT testing’ can be misleading, as you need to test electrical items that aren’t portable!

As a general rule of thumb, anything that plugs into the mains should be PAT tested.

Here’s some of the office equipment that needs to be PAT tested:

In the office

  • Monitor
  • PC unit/computer
  • Laptop
  • Tablet
  • Docking stations
  • Phone
  • Printer/photocopier
  • ID badge printer
  • Franking machine
  • Laminator
  • Extension cables
  • Electric radiator
  • Portable electric heater/fan
  • Air conditioning/HVAC unit/air filtration system
  • IT router

In the meeting room

  • Television screen
  • Projector

In the kitchen

  • Kettle/water boiler
  • Fridge/freezer
  • Microwave
  • Toaster
  • Toastie maker
  • Coffee machine
  • Dishwasher

Kettles are especially important to keep safe. A damaged kettle is more likely to stay hot to the touch or leak boiling water, increasing the risk of harm.

In the break-out room/canteen

  • Vending machine
  • Phone charger
  • Water cooler

In the server room

  • IT rack
  • Server
  • IEC cable
  • CCTV cameras

More information about PAT testing in server rooms

In the cleaning cupboard

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Steam cleaner
  • Iron

In the toilets

  • Hand dryer
  • Electric towel rail

Note: Electrical installations like sockets and light fittings are tested as part of EICR.

Equipment not covered by PAT testing guidelines includes:

  • Lifts and passenger conveyor systems
  • Medical equipment
  • Equipment that is being maintained under another specialised maintenance process (for example, equipment in an explosive environment)

More information about what needs PAT testing

Do I need to PAT test new equipment?

You don’t need to PAT test new equipment as it should have been supplied to you in a safe condition. Just carry out a quick visual check before you use it.

However, if new equipment has arrived and you are concerned about it (for example, it doesn’t have a BSi kitemark), then an inspection can put your mind at ease.

Does new electrical equipment need PAT testing?

Who is responsible for PAT testing hired equipment?

If you have a piece of equipment like a printer or scanner on hire, and you are hiring it for over a week or more, it is the responsibility of your office to test it alongside your other electric equipment (unless you have come to an agreement with the hiring company).

If you have the equipment on hire for less than a week, you don’t need to get it tested but do carry out visual tests before you use it.

Do I need to get hire equipment PAT tested?

Do I have to get equipment tested that staff have brought in?

Yes. You can potentially be liable if someone hurts themselves on equipment in your workplace, even if you haven’t purchased it.

For example, a fan that an employee brings in to keep cool over the summer, or Christmas lights to decorate their desk.

Do I need to shut down my computer/equipment when the PAT testing takes place?

Yes, office equipment does need to be turned off while it is being tested, but it only takes a few minutes so it should not be too much of an inconvenience.

If someone’s equipment can’t be switched off (for example, they’re printing out a really long document), then a PAT testing engineer will be able to carry on with their testing and come back later.

Did you know we offer evening and weekend testing free of charge? This means we can work on your local business’s PAT testing while staff are out of the office, saving valuable time!

Do I need to get PAT testing arranged for home workers?

Employees have a duty of care towards their employees, even if they are working from home, This means if you get PAT testing done in the office, you should extend this to home workers too.

There are two ways of carrying out PAT testing for home workers. You can get the engineer to visit them at home or ask your employee to bring their equipment in for testing when they next come into the office.

How to stay safe when working from home

Do I have to get a PAT test done if we move offices?

You don’t have to, but we’d definitely recommend it for three reasons.

Firstly, electrical equipment may have been damaged in transit. If a monitor or printer has been dropped or rattled around in a removals van, a PAT test will identify any damage.

Secondly, the electrical setup in your new office will be different. For example, there may be fewer sockets, meaning that you have to use extension leads to keep everything switched on. A PAT test will make sure your new setup is as safe as possible.

Finally, some PAT testing companies (like us) use scannable labels to provide a complete asset list of all equipment. You can use this asset list to make sure you haven’t left anything behind!

What does a PAT test cost?

As PAT testing is charged per item, it depends on the number of items you have in your office.

We can provide you with a no-obligation quote you can factor into your budget for PAT testing.

What information do you need to provide an accurate PAT testing quote?

Here is what you should mention when you call or email, to ensure you receive the most accurate quote.

  • How many pieces of equipment (units) need testing. A rough idea is fine – we can always amend the quote when we visit your site. If you have one to hand, an old PAT testing report is useful
  • Where you are based. This will help us see how many engineers we have in your area and whether they can be there when you need them. If you have multiple sites in different locations that need PAT testing, be sure to let us know
  • When you need to have testing completed by. It may be that you need to get testing carried out at a specific time, for example, if you are in a school and you want PAT testing done at half term. The more notice you can give, the more likely we can carry out PAT testing on the date and at the time you want.
  • If there are any special issues that to be taken into consideration. The more information you can give, the better equipped we will be to help. For example, if there are young, old, or disabled people on your premises, or you need testing carried out at the weekend

How long does a PAT test take?

It depends on how many items need testing as well as the size of the office. For example, an office with multiple rooms over several floors will take longer than one open-plan office.

A PAT testing engineer will work with you to ensure that testing is completed with minimal disruption.

Can I carry out an office PAT test?

PAT tests should be carried out by a ‘competent person’ who has been trained to carry out PAT testing in a safe manner.

Therefore we recommend you don’t carry PAT testing in the workplace out yourself unless you have undertaken training.

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