PAT Testing Regulations

What is the law on PAT Testing?

The legal requirement for PAT Testing in Ireland is relatively new with the first legislation being implemented in 2005. Apart from compliance with these legal requirements, an increasing number of companies in Ireland are developing PAT Testing programmes within their organisations. This is being driven by a number of factors including companies adopting best practice in relation to Health & Safety, standards authorities such as ISO and HIQA enforcing policy and insurance companies wanting to minimise risk. The risks to employees, employers and businesses are very real – not only from the risk of electrical shock but also the risk of fire caused by faulty appliances.

Legal Requirements for Companies to Test Portable Electrical Equipment in the Workplace

The Safety, Health & Welfare at Work Act 2005 requires, among other provisions that employers ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the design, provision and maintenance of plant and machinery and any other articles are safe and without risk to health.

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 (S.I. 299 of 2007) came into operation in November 2007. An amendment (S.I. 732 of 2007) to these regulations Regulation 74 (Interpretation) of these Regulations defines portable equipment as follows:

“Portable Equipment” means equipment, including hand-held equipment, which:

  1. because of the manner in which it is used, requires to be moved while it is working,
  2. is designed so that it can be moved while it is working, or
  3. is moved from time to time between the periods during which it is working;

Regulation 81 (Portable Equipment) of S.I. No. 299 of 2007 deals with the requirements for portable equipment and is stated as follows:

81. (1) An employer shall ensure that—

(a) a circuit supplying portable equipment or a socket outlet intended to supply portable equipment, including any circuit supplied by an electrical generator, and in which is used alternating current at a voltage—

(i) exceeding 125 volts, and

(ii) not exceeding 1,000 volts,
is protected by one or more residual current devices having a tripping current not exceeding 30 milliamperes operating within such period of time so as to provide the necessary protection to prevent danger to any person coming into direct or indirect contact with any live part of the circuit,

(b) portable equipment is maintained in a manner fit for safe use, and

(c) portable equipment which is—

(i) exposed to conditions causing deterioration liable to result in danger, and

(ii) supplied at a voltage exceeding 125 volts alternating current,


(I) visually checked by the user before use, and

(II) periodically inspected by a competent person, appropriate to the nature, location and use of the equipment.

(2) An employer shall ensure, where appropriate, that a competent person—

(a) tests any portable equipment described in paragraph (1)(c)(i) and (ii), and

(b) certifies whether or not the portable equipment (including any cables and plugs) was, on the day of test, as far as could reasonably be ascertained, safe and without risk to persons coming into direct or indirect contact with any live part of the equipment.

(3) If the certificate of the competent person referred to in paragraph (2) indicates that the portable equipment tested was not, on the day of the test, safe and without risk, as described in that paragraph, the employer shall ensure that the equipment is not used until it is made safe and certified as such in compliance with paragraph (2).

(4) An employer shall ensure that—

(a) portable equipment, other than portable transformers and portable generators, supplied at a voltage exceeding 125 volts alternating current is not used in—

(i) construction work,

(ii) external quarrying activities, or

(iii) damp or confined locations, unless its rating exceeds 2 kilovolt amperes,

(b) portable hand lamps supplied at a voltage exceeding 25 volts alternating current or 50 volts direct current is not used in—

(i) construction work,

(ii) external quarrying activities, or

(iii) damp or confined locations, and

(c) where a transformer or generator is used to supply electricity to portable equipment at a voltage greater than 25 volts, but not exceeding 125 volts, alternating current,

(i) the centre point, electrically, or

(ii) neutral (star) point in the case of three phase of the output voltage or secondary winding, is connected to earth and the transformer or generator is of the double wound type.