Unnecessary PAT tests costing firms £30m

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UNNECESSARY electrical safety tests are costing businesses an estimated £30m a year, according to health and safety chiefs.

The Health and Safety Executive has launched a campaign to explode the myth that every portable electrical appliance in the workplace needs to be tested once a year.

Misleading advice and advertising, often by companies who offer portable appliance testing (PAT), is contributing to low-risk businesses such as offices, shops and hotels paying unnecessarily for over-the-top maintenance regimes, it says.

The law simply requires an employer to ensure equipment is maintained – it does not state that every item has to be tested or how often testing needs to be carried out. In a low-risk environment most dangerous defects can be found simply by checking the appliances for obvious signs of damage such as frayed cables.

HSE chair Judith Hackitt said: “We know that low-risk companies are being misled over what the law requires when it comes to maintaining portable electrical appliances, and many are paying for testing that is not needed.

“Businesses are responsible for protecting their employees, but they shouldn’t be wasting their money on unnecessary checks that have no real benefit.

“HSE has always advocated a proportionate, risk-based approach to maintenance. This guidance is simple to follow.”

Nick Starling, director of general insurance at the Association of British Insurers, said: “Insurers have never required policyholders to undertake unnecessary portable electrical appliance tests which are not proportionate to the risk. We welcome HSE’s guidance, which will help businesses focus on what they do best, free from worries about health and safety myths.”