Appliance Safety Testing - Physics Health and Safety Policy and UK Law


Physics Department Health and Safety Policy

The departmental requirement that all plug-in electrical equipment is safety checked before use is found in the Physics Department Health and Safety Handbook. With the exception of certain IT equipment sourced from reputable suppliers by Physics IT staff all mains electrical equipment powered via a plug, including personal appliances such as phone chargers, must be inspected by a Physics 'PAT' technician before use and at regular intervals there after. The agreed maximum intervals between inspections can be found here.


Oxford University Policy Statement

Oxford University policy statement Working Safely With Electricity describes University policy including responsibilities of Duty Holders; responsibilities of Department Heads; the role of Electrical Supervisors; requirements for non-EU sourced equipment; disposal of waste electrical equipment; live testing policy and other matters relating to electrical safety.


United Kingdom Legal Requirements

There is a statutory duty on an employer such as the Physics Department to ensure any electrical appliances provided are safe to use and are maintained so that they remain safe.  This duty is defined in Regulations created under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

In particular:

Regulation 4(2) of the Electricity at Work Regulations requires that: 'As may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, such danger'.

Regulation 5 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations requires that: 'Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair'.

The usual way to satisfy these requirements is by way of a regime of in-service inspection and testing of electrical equipment (often referred to as PAT testing).  This involves the inspection, and if necessary the testing, of all mains operated plug-in electrical equipment at set intervals.  The result of each inspection is recorded which can be used as evidence that the legal requirements have been met.

(The comments above should not be regarded as a definitive guide to the legal requirements regarding electrical safety testing, as with most legal matters the situation is much more complicated.)