Remember there are free safety guides for this on the UK government website:
There are people that will get into debates about the worth of ‘pat’ testing, frequency, storing details, etc. there are some ‘rules of thumb’ for these.
Your rudimentary electrical tests should consist of the following:
- insulation resistance
- earth continuity
- current leakage
- visible physical damage (and/or unsafe direct accessibility to electrical power)
- ensuring the cabling is the correct type/rating for the current to be pulled through it (extension cables are an interesting one here)
- making sure the device works
Pat testers can do some or all of these tests for you, minus the visible physical damage.
There are no laws around doing ‘pat tests’ or similar, however there are laws about ensuring electrical safety, and if something goes wrong and it involves an electrical/electronic component, then there will be a witch hunt as to whether due diligence was used to ensure that it is safe at least once.
Some guidelines are often thus:
- If it’s bought brand new in the UK and it’s stamped with its check, that it’s safe from the manufacturer and doesn’t need more than a visual check.
- If it’s equipment that’s moved frequently, or it has moving parts, then it needs to be regularly checked, like 6 months to 12 months is often suitable.
- If it’s not moved frequently, and it’s kit that’s always on, let’s say server racks and switches, then visual checks are usually fine for once a year or every two years.
Recording the results can range from purely having a sticker on the hardware saying date when it was last checked and whether it passed or failed, probably helps if it denotes whether it had just a visual or more checks, through to keeping an inventory of your equipment, including the cabling, and recording when it was last checked, to when it’s to be checked next. Sometimes people do a purely visual check once every 6 months and a full electrical check once every 12 months.
Depending on what hardware you’re testing, you may have to test the cabling as well as the hardware, and if the cabling can be separated you either want to ensure it stays with that hardware and treat it all as ‘one device’ or you mark up all of the cabling separately if they’re often moved, unplugged or switched out (because someone could replace the cable, and you now don’t know if it has the correct fuse, if it has damage or if the cable is the correct rating). Technically speaking any cables replaced means everything has to be re-logged, checked, etc.
Hope that helps. There’s no hard and fast rule, except “has it been checked and ensured it was safe? is this sufficient to ensure it’s safe? does it work? done.”
I was a certified tester for Leeds University.