PORTABLE APPLIANCE: ‘Any electrical appliance which can be plugged into the mains supply’.

Legal Duty

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (EAW) state that maintenance inspections must be carried out at set frequencies to control risks, which can arise from use of electricity. The Duty Holder (employer in this case) must select precautions appropriate to the risk i.e. Regulation 4(2) requires that ‘as may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent as far as practicable such danger’.

PAT Test Guidance Update by the HSE

The Health and Safety Executive has recently updated its popular guide aimed at employers, employees and the self-employed who use, or have control over, portable or transportable electrical equipment.

“Maintaining portable and transportable electrical equipment” gives practical advice on how to maintain equipment in a safe condition and prevent accidents. It covers equipment that may be connected to either fixed mains or a locally generated supply, and that could result in an electrical shock, burn or fire due to damage, wear or misuse.

The guidance applies to a wide variety of equipment, used in all environments, from electric drills and extension leads, to floor cleaners, pressure water cleaners and electrical kettles. It includes advice on what the legal requirements for maintenance of electrical equipment can mean in practice and guidance on how to carry out a risk assessment in this area.

The maintenance strategy recommended by the guide is based on a straightforward, inexpensive system of visual inspections that can be undertaken by an appointed employee. In additional, a person with appropriate skill and technical knowledge should test equipment periodically.

Nearly a quarter of all reportable electrical accidents involve portable or transportable equipment. The vast majority of these accidents result in electric shock.

Copies of Maintaining Portable and Transportable Electrical Equipment are available from HSE Books or can be ordered online at For more information about the IET Code of Practice, please visit