Companies may be wasting millions of pounds every year on unnecessary electrical inspections under the mistaken belief that annual Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is compulsory.
The IET estimates that UK businesses could save more than £30m a year by adopting a common sense approach.
Despite the misunderstanding, sometimes perpetuated by external contractors providing PAT services, testing annually has never been a legal requirement. Nor do insurers require policyholders to undertake testing every year, particularly in low-risk business environments such as offices, shops and hotels.
To help businesses to understand their PAT obligations and to prevent unnecessary work, the IET has published the fourth edition of the Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment.
The new publication will enable people with responsibility for electrical equipment, including building mangers, office managers and health and safety inspectors, to make more informed decisions on the level of inspection and testing required. It advises a proportionate risk-based approach, taking into consideration the usage, type and environment of the equipment in question.
This updated guidance reflects the recommendations of the Löfstedt Report into health and safety legislation, published in November 2011.
Geoff Cronshaw, chief electrical engineer at the IET, said: “Misunderstandings around inspection and testing of electrical equipment have led to low-risk businesses paying unnecessarily for over-the-top maintenance regimes. The Code of Practice incorporates major changes reflecting Professor Löfstedt’s report and the Health and Safety Executive’s view that promotes a proportionate risk-based approach when assessing the safety of electrical equipment and appliances, potentially saving businesses millions of pounds.”
Estimated savings are based on the number and type of UK businesses and typical inspection costs. The figures do not cover schools or public authority buildings.