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Electrical Safety and PAT

The legal requirements relating to the use and maintenance of electrical equipment are contained in the Electricity at Work Regulations (EWR).

If you are using any electrical equipment, make sure you are safe both before and after the plug. Everyone working with or on electrical equipment comes within the scope of the EWR

These apply to all work activities and place requirements on employers, self-employed and employees (duty holders). Almost all places of entertainment need a licence from the local authority.

There will usually be requirements for fire precautions, and these can also include conditions relating to electrical safety.

The duty holder selects precautions appropriate to the risk. Everybody working with or on electrical equipment (including self-employed) comes within the scope of the EWR.

Portable or fixed equipment

The term Portable Appliance is not defined in the EWR, but may be regarded as covering equipment designed to be carried from place to place and connected to a fixed power supply by a flexible lead and plug,    for example, an amplifier.

The reason for distinguishing between portable and fixed equipment is that the electrical connections to portable equipment — for example, the mains plug, flexible cable and terminals — are likely to be subject to more wear and tear than those on the equipment which forms part of the fixed installation.

Inspection and Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)

Maintenance is a general term that can include visual inspection, testing, repair and replacement. Maintenance will determine whether the equipment is fully serviceable, or if remedial action is necessary. There are no absolute rules regarding the frequency of electrical PAT testing.

The Health & Safety Executive’s guidance notes advise ‘regular testing’ and this is generally interpreted to mean annual testing by a ‘competent person’. However, conditions of use will vary and more frequent electrical safety    testing may be necessary.

This will depend on the type of use, the nature of the working environment and how much wear and tear the equipment receives. If there are any signs of damage or poor electrical standards the equipment should not be used until it is made safe.

Any MU member who does not feel that he or she is competent to carry out a Portable Appliance Test (PAT) should enlist the services of a competent electrician.

To prove you have complied with the EWR, keep full and accurate records of test results and equipment details. If a number of pieces of equipment or extension leads are involved, then a register of all equipment should be created to include the following details:

  • Identification number, description of appliance, serial number and period between tests.
  • Any certification of equipment should show the tests undertaken and the results obtained.

For further guidance, visit the HSE website or contact your Regional Office.

Duty of care

To comply with the MU Public Liability Insurance, members should be aware of the following:

Members have a duty of care to take all reasonable precautions to prevent damage or injury to third parties and/ or third party property and to comply with all statutory requirements and safety legislation imposed by any authority.

Failure to comply with the above policy condition could prejudice a claim.