Is PAT testing a legal requirement?

PAT stands for portable appliance testing. PAT testing, then, is a redundant term, but it’s a common phrase regardless. You might also hear the process referred to as Test & Tag in Australia.

Portable appliance testing is crucial for maintaining electrical safety standards, but is it a legal requirement in Australia? Find out in this article.

What is PAT testing?

PAT testing involves a broad range of testing types, depending on the type of equipment that requires testing and its characteristics, such as usage and age. Some common testing types include:

  • Leakage Current Testing
  • Insulation Resistance Testing
  • Bond Testing
  • Earth Resistance Testing
  • Earth Continuity Testing
  • Screen Testing
  • Polarity Testing
  • RCD Trip Time Testing

Along with testing the appliance itself, PAT testing also involves checking any plugs, cables, and leads. After completing a portable appliance test, the technician will usually mark the date of the test, their name and company, and a recommended date for the next test.

This process ensures anyone who uses the appliance knows that it has passed the testing process and when it should be tested next to maintain safety standards.

The device technicians used to conduct PAT tests is called a PAT tester.

Why PAT testing is important

PAT testing is a crucial safety step when working on or around any kind of electrical equipment or appliance. The process promotes:

  • Safety, significantly reducing the risk of fires, electrical shocks, and appliance damage
  • Compliance with industry regulations and Occupational Health & Safety standards
  • Effective and efficient appliance operation

Without PAT testing, there’s no way to know if appliances are running safely, efficiently, and effectively. That’s why it is such a critical process that should be completed regularly.

Is PAT testing a legal requirement?

In Australia, PAT testing is indeed a legal requirement. According to the New South Wales Government, a ‘competent person’ must regularly rest certain kinds of electrical equipment to detect electrical faults and identify wear and tear.

If an appliance meets the following requirements, it must go through regular PAT testing:

  • An electrical socket outlet supplies it with electricity,
  • It is normally exposed to operating conditions that could reduce its lifespan or cause damage, i.e. exposure to heat, vibration, mechanical damage, chemicals, dust, or moisture.

The ‘competent person’ who conducts the portable appliance test must have the appropriate skills and knowledge. In Australia, there following two standards apply here:

  • AS/NZS 3012: 2010 (outlines inspection and testing requirements for electrical installations on demolition and construction sites)
  • AS/NZS 3760: 2010 (outlines testing, tagging, and inspection methods for service safety testing and inspection of electrical equipment)

As such, all electrical equipment that meets the requirements outlined above must legally go through regular testing and tagging. 

It’s also a legal requirement to keep records of any testing until the next time the equipment is tested, disposed of, or permanently removed from the workplace.


To answer this article’s main question, yes, PAT testing is a legal requirement in Australia—as long as the appliance meets certain requirements. You can learn more about these requirements by visiting your local WHS regulator’s website.

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