Portable Appliance Testing

Portable Electrical Equipment is generally, equipment that has a lead or cable and plug and which is normally moved from place to place, e.g. vacuum cleaners, kettles, heaters, fans, televisions, desk lamps; and also equipment that could be moved e.g. photocopiers, fax machines and computers.

I have quite a lot of Electrical Equipment in my premises, what do I have to do to maintain it?

For the most part, visually inspect it. By concentrating on a simple system of looking for visible signs of damage or faults, and putting them right, you will prevent most electrical accidents from occurring.

What can go wrong with electrical equipment?

The leads and plugs, or sometimes the equipment itself, can become damaged. This may result in an electric shock. Electric shocks can kill. Damaged equipment can also cause fires.

How can I tell if electrical equipment is damaged?

By looking! This is the most important maintenance precaution. Around 95% of faults or damage can be found just by looking (visual inspection)

It seems easy, but I have been told that I have to have an electrician carry out electrical appliance testing?

That is not necessary for the kind of equipment normally used in low-risk environments. Any sensible (competent) member of staff can do it if they have been given enough knowledge and training.

What about electrical testing, I thought that was essential?

Not for all equipment. However, some faults cannot be seen just by looking, particularly a lack of continuous earths for some equipment the earth is essential for safety. Therefore, all earthed equipment, and most leads and plugs connected to equipment, should also have an occasional combined inspection and test to look for these and other faults.

What are the recommended intervals for electrical testing in low risk environments?

Offices and other low-risk environments only - suggested initial intervals:
Equipment/EnvironmentUser ChecksFormal Visual InspectionCombined Inspection and Testing
Battery-operated:
(less than 20 volts)
NoNoNo
Extra low voltage:
(Less than 50 volts AC)
e.g. telephone equipment, low voltage desk lights
NoNoNo
Information technology:
e.g. desktop computers, VDU screens
NoYes, 2-4 yearsNo if double insulated - otherwise up to 5 years
Photocopiers, fax machines:
NOT hand-held.
Rarely moved
NoYes, 2-4 yearsNo if double insulated - otherwise up to 5 years
Double insulated equipment:
NOT hand-held. Moved occasionally,
e.g. fans, table lamps, slide projectors
NoYes, 2-4 yearsNo
Double insulated equipment:
HAND-HELD
e.g. some floor cleaners
YesYes, 6 months - 1 yearNo
Earthed equipment (Class 1):
e.g. electric kettles, some floor cleaners
YesYes, 6 months - 1 yearYes, 1-2 years
Cables (leads) and plugs connected to the above
Extension leads (mains voltage)
YesYes, 6 months - 4 years depending on the type of equipment it is connected toYes, 1-5 years depending on the type of equipment it is connected