PAT Testing for Home Workers

I’d like to thank everyone at Google for their excellent Google Analytics tool. Not only does it allow you to track visitors to your site in great detail, you can even find out how visitors find your site in the first place, what search engine they came from and what search term they used. Yesterday a visitor found my site by using the search term ‘PAT Testing for home workers’, which made me realise that;

  1. I had nothing on the site that explains whether home workers need to have their equipment PAT tested or not and,
  2. I wasn’t 100% sure whether home workers need to have their appliances tested or not!

I started doing a little bit of digging around to help find the answer and as usual the answer is, it depends!

PAT Testing for Home WorkersFirstly, it depends on who is providing the equipment. If you are ’employed’ as opposed to ‘self-employed’ then it’s likely that your appliances have been provided for you by your employer, therefore it’s their responsibility to ensure that any electrical items they provide are safe to use. The way most employers comply with this is through regular PAT testing so make sure that your items are done for you – speak to the responsible person within your organisation to see when the engineer is due or you may have an internal PAT tester that you can take your equipment to. It’s in your interest to get this done if you’re taking these appliances into your home – any potential of electric shock or fire now not only puts you at risk but anyone who shares your home. Your appliances may also be classed as a higher risk than normal if they’re regularly transported from home to office and back again, as opposed to static appliances sat on a desk, so depending on your company’s risk assessment, you might even have to have your items tested more frequently.

Secondly, it will depend on what sort of appliances you’ve been provided with. Laptops, mobile phones and tablet PC’s are exempt – you may sometimes see these defined as Class III or SELV appliances – basically they run off such low voltage you don’t need to worry about it. However, you will have mains chargers for them all, and they will require testing. How often really depends on your company’s policy, if they don’t yet have one you can check our list of recommended PAT testing frequencies. Brand new equipment won’t need testing, so if you’re anything like me and get through laptop chargers for fun, you might have new equipment more regularly than the test frequency, in which case you won’t have to bother. Remember to date your new equipment with a marker when you receive it or you’ll forget how old it is!

If you’re a mobile worker, regularly visiting different workplaces you’ll be bound by the policy of the company that you’re visiting, so make sure you check beforehand. IT equipment generally isn’t a problem, but I have heard of instances of people being refused entry, generally in more industrial environments and on building sites.

For the self-employed home worker it’s a little bit different. I can understand why someone’s initial reaction would be to not carry out PAT testing, especially if you are just using the same items that you would have in a home office/study if you weren’t a home worker. If you employ anyone else that works from your home office then it’s a definite ‘yes’ to have it done, you need to make sure your staff are using equipment that’s safe in the same way any employer would. If it’s just yourself I would still advise to have it done – insurance companies will look for any 1/2 excuse they can find to not pay out in the event of an accident – so I’d say take a common-sense approach and don’t take the risk. A test every 2 years would be sufficient, and would probably average out at £20 a year for most home offices.

A larger risk to working from home is overloaded sockets, especially when using extension leads when there aren’t enough available. Try our socket overload calculator to see if yours are safe.*

Bring Your Own Device PAT Testing

If you work for a company that has a Bring Your Own Device policy, then we hit yet another grey-area. If you are using your device on company premises, then it should be covered by the company as they have a duty of care towards other employees in the area. Using your own devices saves the company money by not having to invest in new technology, so it would be quite an unreasonable employer that makes you PAT test your own! It will vary and most companies won’t have even considered it, so your best option is to speak to your boss and find out.

*Socket Overload Calculator kindly provided by the Electrical Safety Council.