Portable Appliance Testing

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Portable Appliance Testing

This is now formally known as the In-service Inspection & Testing of Electrical Equipment test.

The In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment is an examination of your electrical appliances to ensure they are safe to use.

Hazards caused by faulty electrical appliances can be extremely dangerous and even life threatening, but they are preventable by way of ensuring regular testing of appliances.

Employers and private landlords have a legal responsibility to keep their employees and tenants safe. In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment is one of the most effective ways to do this & complies with The Housing (Scotland) Act of 2006 and Health and Safety at Work regulations.

The test ensures electrical equipment is safe to use by checking for damage or malfunction. Any portable appliances including fridges, ovens, cookers, washing machines should be included in the inspection.

5th Edition Update

The term 5th Edition refers to the 5th Edition of the IET Code of Practice for in-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment. This book is the industry standard guidance document used in the UK by those managing or preforming In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment, often know as ‘PAT Testing’.

The 5th Edition was released in September 2020 the IET released an updated set of guidance, the 5th Edition, replacing the 4th Edition document that has been used by the industry since 2012.

As you would expect, the 5th Edition contains numerous changes to the content and guidance to bring this document up-to-date and make it fit for the equipment and workplaces of the 2020’s.

There are however a few key changes to highlight:

New terminology, the term ‘Equipment’ replaces old terms like portable appliance. This is to clarify that all electrical equipment in places of work requires inspection and testing not just those that are portable, which was a common misconception.

The Old table of suggested initial inspection and testing frequencies has been removed in favour of more guidance on risk assessment and sample risk assessments have now been include too.

A new class of equipment has been added, Class 2 FE (Functional Earth) to cover equipment that has electric shock protection by double or reinforced insulation; but requires a functional earth to operate correctly.

Testing changes have been made to the ‘Leakage Tests’ where the PASS/FAIL limits has been increased to 5mA for both Class 1 and Class 2 equipment. An RCD test at 5x the rating for 30mA RCDs is now also required.

Portable Appliance Testing FAQs

In-service Inspection & Testing of Electrical Equipment (formally known as PAT Testing) is an examination of electrical equipment to determine whether it is safe to use.  This includes visually inspecting and testing of electrical equipment.


Whilst there is no legal qualification required, Your PAT tester must be competent to test your electrical equipment. The competent tester must also ensure that any PAT testing machine used to test electrical equipment, is calibrated according to manufacturer guidelines (every 12 months).


It is crucial that PAT Testing equipment are running correctly and accurately because they are used to inspect electrical items for safety. There is a means to verify this—calibration. Like many older electronic devices, older PAT Test equipment may require periodic adjustment to ensure that the readings are reliable.


One of the biggest PAT testing myths is that we only need to test objects that have plugs. The Electricity at Work Regulations of 1989 mandate PAT testing for any electrical “Systems” used; as a result, the law does not distinguish between equipment that is wired directly to the supply and that that has a plug. This can also include visual inspection of equipment wired direct to the supply.


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