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Portable Appliance Testing and The Law

The legislation of specific relevance to electrical maintenance is the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

LegalThe Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 puts a duty of care upon both employer (sections 2, 3 and 4 etc) and employee (section 7) to ensure the safety of all persons using the work premises. This includes the self-employed.  

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1998 states:

"Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of:

(a) the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work, and

(b) the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his understanding". (Regulation 3(1))

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states:

"Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is so constructed or or adapted as to be suitable for the purpose for which it is used or provided". (Regulation 4(1))

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) cover most risks that can result from using work equipment. With respect to risks from electricity, compliance with the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 is likely to achieve compliance with PUWER regulations 5-9, 19 and 22.

PUWER only applies to work equipment used by workers at work. This includes all work equipment (fixed, portable or transportable) connected to a source of electrical supply. PUWER does not apply to the fixed installations in a building. The electrical safety of these installations is dealt with only by the Electricity at Work Regulations.

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 states:

"As may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, such danger". (Regulation 4(2))

" 'System' means an electrical system in which all the electrical equipment is, or may be, electrically connected to a common source of electrical energy and includes such source and such equipment". (Regulation 2(1))

"Electrical equipment includes anything used, intended to be used or installed for use, to generate, provide, transmit, transform, rectify, convert, conduct, distribute, control, store, measure, or use electrical energy". (Regulation 2(1)) 

Scope of the legislation

It is clear that the combination of the Health and Safety at Work Regulations etc. act 1974, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 apply to all electrical equipment used in, or associated with, places of work. The scope extends from distribution systems, be they 400kV or simply those in buildings, down to the smallest piece of electrical equipment such as a hairdryer, a visual display unit (VDU), a telephone or even in some situations battery-operated equipment. 

Who is responsible?

Everyone at work has their responsibilities including, in certain circumstances, trainees. However, because of the all-embracing responsibilities of all persons this does not minimise the duties od particular persons. Regulation 3 of the Electricity at Work Regulations recognises a responsibility (control) that employers and many employees have for electrical systems.

"It shall be the duty of every employer and self-employed person to comply with the provisions of these Regulations in so far as they relate to matters which are within his control.

It shall be the duty of every employee while at work:

(a) to co-operate with his employer so far as is necessary to enable any duty placed on that employer by the provisions of these Regulations to be complied with; and

(b) to comply with the provisions of these Regulations in so far as they relate to matters which are within his control".

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 requires every employer to ensure that equipment is suitable for the use for which it is provided (Regulation 4(1)) and only for work for which it is suitable (Regulation 4(3)). They require every employer to ensure equipment is maintained in good order (Regulation 5) and inspected as necessary to ensure it is maintained in a safe condition (Regulation 6).

PAT Testing for landlords

As a landlord, you have a duty to prevent harm to your tenants from electrical appliances that you supply. Portable appliance testing is widely regarded as being the best way of complying with this obligation. Without a programme of planned appliance testing and maintenance, you could be legally liable for damages resulting from your untested appliances. This covers all portable appliances that you supply, including fridges and freezers, microwave ovens, televisions and vacuum cleaners.


The regulations on electrical appliances for landlords and/or letting agents

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, mandatory since 1 January 1997, state that all electrical appliances supplied with let accommodation must be safe. This applies to both new and second-hand appliances and covers all electrical items supplied for the intended use of the Tenant. The only sure method of ensuring that these appliances are safe is to have them tested by a trained competent person using the appropriate calibrated portable appliance testing equipment.



Last Updated (Friday, 22 October 2010 17:39)