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HSE PULLS THE PLUG ON ‘UNNECESSARY’ PAT TESTING

Revised portable appliance testing guide aims to cut £30m off business costs

HSE has published revised guidance on portable appliance (PAT) testing designed to stop unnecessary electrical safety tests that are estimated to cost office-based businesses £30 million a year. The regulator confirms that “it’s a myth that every portable electrical appliance in the workplace needs to be tested once a year”.

It is said that misleading advice and advertising contributes to low-risk businesses such as offices, shops and hotels paying unnecessarily for over-the-top maintenance regimes. The law requires employers to ensure that electrical equipment is maintained in order to prevent danger – it does not state that every item has to be tested or how often testing needs to be carried out.

For further information on portable appliance testing see HSE’s FAQs.

The revised guidance follows a Government Inquiry and report which said that the legal requirements concerning maintenance of electrical appliances was “applied too widely and disproportionately” resulting in costly over-compliance with the law.

Don’t waste money on unnecessary checks that have no real benefit

HSE stress that testing appliances to ensure that they are safe to use can contribute to an effective maintenance regime, but in a low-risk environment most dangerous defects can be found simply by checking the appliances for obvious signs of damage such as frayed cables.

In launching the revised guidance HSE Chair Judith Hackitt said:

“We know that low-risk companies are being mis-led over what the law requires when it comes to maintaining portable electrical appliances, and many are paying for testing that is not needed.

Businesses are responsible for protecting their employees, but they shouldn’t be wasting their money on unnecessary checks that have no real benefit. HSE has always advocated a proportionate, risk-based approach to maintenance. This new guidance is simple and clear to follow.”

Nick Starling, Director of General Insurance at the Association of British Insurers, said:

“Insurers have never required policyholders to undertake unnecessary portable electrical appliance tests which are not proportionate to the risk. We welcome HSE’s guidance, which will help businesses focus on what they do best, free from worries about health and safety myths.”

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