top of page

Small Businesses Guide to PAT Testing (portable appliance testing)

A Comprehensive Guide to PAT Testing for Small Businesses

In any industry but especially in a small business, you likely rely on at least one portable appliance. These are electrical devices that can be unplugged and moved from one power source to another. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about PAT testing for small businesses in Liverpool.

Understanding Portable Appliances

When we think of 'portable,' we often imagine small, easily movable items like hairdryers or vacuum cleaners. However, a portable appliance can be any size electrical device that can be relocated while in use or between uses. Even a large refrigerator can fall under this category and would therefore need PAT testing.

Given the heavy reliance on these appliances, ensuring their safety is crucial. This is where Portable Appliance Testing (PAT testing) comes into play. Let's explore the details of PAT testing and the relevant regulations.

What is PAT Testing?

PAT testing is a procedure to verify that electrical equipment is safe to use. This process involves examining any portable devices you utilise for work to ensure they won't pose a risk to you or others.

The initial phase of PAT testing includes a visual inspection of your devices for any noticeable defects. This can involve using the appliance to identify any issues. Online guidelines and checklists can assist you, but a visual inspection should focus on the following:

  • Damage to the power lead

  • Damage to the plug

  • Exposed wires, particularly where the lead meets the plug

  • Tape used to secure the lead to the plug

  • Loose or broken parts

  • Signs of overheating

  • Proper cable storage (e.g., not trapped under furniture)

  • Appropriate storage of appliances (e.g., not dusty or wet)

However, some defects cannot be identified visually, so a more thorough inspection is required for a comprehensive safety assessment.

A Guide To PAT Testing (portable appliance testing) For Small Businesses

PAT Testing Regulations – What’s the Law?

While it's mandatory to ensure that all electrical equipment used in your workplace is safe and well-maintained, there is no specific legal requirement for the frequency or method of PAT testing.

As a business owner, you're aware of which appliances are used most frequently. For instance, a power tool used daily will endure more wear and tear compared to a fan used only in summer. Prioritise testing the appliances that are used most often and pose the highest risk.

Although PAT testing isn't legally required, maintaining accurate records of your devices' maintenance is beneficial for health and safety audits. Check the HSE’s guidelines for detailed information on PAT testing requirements.

Who Can Perform PAT Testing?

Anyone deemed 'competent' can conduct PAT testing. This means that as long as the person has a good understanding of electronics, they can reliably assess the safety of your devices.

While hiring a qualified electrician is an excellent option, it's not always necessary. Your staff might include someone knowledgeable enough to perform the tests. If you're handling the assessment yourself, PAT testing equipment is available for purchase. Depending on the level of testing, you can choose between basic or more detailed testers. These devices connect to the appliance and indicate a pass or fail status on an LED screen.

Alternatively, you can hire professional PAT testing companies. They will test your appliances and provide records of the results – a good choice for peace of mind regarding device safety. If your own inspection raises concerns, seeking professional help is the safest route.

Whether you opt for in-house testing or hire a professional, ensure the person conducting the PAT test has:

  • Proper testing equipment

  • A solid understanding of test results

  • Knowledge of the PAT testing process

Obtaining a PAT Test Certificate

Since PAT testing isn't a legal requirement, there’s no official PAT testing certificate. However, keeping records of your appliances' safety and maintenance is a smart practice. It helps keep your employees and clients safe and aids in inventory management and insurance purposes.

Tracking the status of your appliances can be done through a PAT testing log book, individual certificates, or stickers on each device. You can create your own or purchase templates online.

Information you might include on a PAT test certificate:

  • Appliance name/ID/serial number

  • Date of test

  • Name of tester

  • Rating or score

  • Electrical details such as voltage or fuse information

Store these records in a safe and accessible place for future reference.

What Happens If an Appliance Fails the Test?

If an appliance fails its PAT test, it may not need immediate replacement. Depending on the failure cause, an engineer might be able to repair the device, making it eligible for retesting. Always trust a professional’s opinion on the safety of your appliances.

Sometimes, an appliance may fail because it has reached the end of its life. In this case, replacing the device with a new one is necessary. New appliances generally don’t need PAT testing as they should be sold in proper working order, but a basic visual inspection before first use is advisable.


PAT testing is essential for ensuring the safety and maintenance of portable appliances in your small business. By understanding the requirements and procedures, you can protect your workplace and comply with health and safety standards. If you’re in Liverpool and need professional assistance, GB PAT Testing is here to help. Contact us today.


Featured Posts

Recent Posts


Search By Tags

Follow Us

  • Twitter Basic Square
bottom of page