I would like to clarify the legal requirements relating to Portable Appliance Testing (PAT), which were commented on in the Business Surgery column ("Business Surgery: new health and safety checks", 13/3/2012 )
There are no new health and safety checks applicable to portable appliances in the workplace and there is no legal requirement to carry out portable appliance tests or to label appliances. The only requirement is that electrical equipment needs to be maintained, if not doing so would lead to danger. Testing the equipment to ensure that it is safe to use can be part of a maintenance regime, but in a low risk business, such as one based in an office, not every electrical item will need a portable appliance test. In lots of cases, simple checks by the user and a visual inspection can be all that is needed.
We would encourage people to look at our guidance and FAQs at www.hse.gov.uk/electricity/faq-portable-appliance-testing.htm
Electrical Safety Team
Health and Safety Executive