HSE highlights high cost of equipment testing myth

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched new guidance on safety testing of electrical appliances, saying that unnecessary checks are costing office-based businesses an estimated £30 million a year.

The HSE said that was a costly myth that every portable electrical appliance in the workplace must be tested once a year, leading to low-risk businesses such as offices, shops and hotels organising and paying for checking regimes that aren’t needed.

It said the law simply requires an employer to ensure that electrical equipment is maintained in order to prevent danger and does not state that every item has to be tested or specify how often testing needs to be carried out. In a low-risk environment, most dangerous defects could be found simply by checking appliances for obvious signs of damage such as frayed cables, it added.

Launching HSE’s revised guidance on portable appliance testing (PAT), 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.

Nick Starling, director of general insurance at the Association of British Insurers, welcomed the new guidance, adding: “Insurers have never required policyholders to undertake unnecessary portable electrical appliance tests which are not proportionate to the risk.”

Link: HSE guidance