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What Is PAT Testing?

Portable appliance testing is a safety precaution that ensures the electrical appliances used by places of employment, service or hire will not cause damage or injury to employees, customers or renters. Various laws and regulations indicate it is the responsibility of businesses to perform such tests as often as deemed necessary to ensure the equipment is functioning properly.


Samples of the electrical appliances that may be found in offices include, but are not limited to:

  • copy machine
  • computers
  • microwave
  • lamps
  • vacuum cleaner
  • printers
  • stereo
  • portable heaters

Places of business where manufacturing occurs have even more electrical tools, such as:

  • saws
  • drills
  • sanders
  • portable fans
  • gauges

Appliances that are permanently affixed to the building structure are not included in PAT regulations because they are not portable. In other words, if it cannot be rolled or carried manually to another location with relative ease, it is not a portable appliance and requires a different type of maintenance. Appliances that would NOT be considered portable are:

  • electrical heating or cooling units
  • built-in lighting
  • refrigerator


The purpose of the testing is to examine equipment for damage or malfunction so as to keep the workplace safe. Damaged electrical equipment may shock users with voltage, trigger a fire with a short or ignite an explosion if it is in close proximity to certain chemicals or fumes. These hazards are preventable with proper testing.


Many portable appliances can simply be tested visually for damage to cords or faulty switches. Users should be encouraged to disclose any malfunctions experienced while running the equipment so that the proper repairs can be made before an injury or accident occurs.

Portable appliance testing is the law because it keeps people safe.