OBUHSN-33 Issue 05 June 2013

Portable electrical equipment testing


  1. This health and safety notice must be read and understood by all employees of Oxford Brookes University.
  2. It must also be read by and/or explained to members of the student body where the use of electrical equipment forms an integral part of their studies. Where appropriate, it must also be brought to the attention of contractors' staff working at the University.
  3. The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (SI 1989 No 635) came into force on 1 April 1990. Under these regulations the principles of electrical safety must be applied to all places of work at all voltages There are no exceptions. OBUHSN 18 should also be read in conjunction with this health and safety notice.

Portable electrical equipment

  1. Portable electrical equipment is defined as that which is not permanently attached electrically so as to form part of a fixed electrical installation. It is connected to an electrical supply via a flexible cable and plug to a socket outlet. For the purposes of this document, removable mains leads and extension leads will be classified as items of portable electrical equipment.


  1. The Deans of Faculties/Directors or Directorates or their nominee will produce and update an inventory of all the Faculties/Directorates portable and fixed electrical equipment. A copy of the inventory will be submitted to the Safety Manager on request and updated as required. The inventory will include some or all of the following information.

    • Equipment type
    • Equipment location/site
    • Manufacturer and/or supplier
    • Manufacturer's serial number
    • Unique inventory number
    • Date of purchase
  2. Every item of portable electrical equipment must have a unique identification number.

How to undertake portable appliance testing

  1. The method to undertake Portable Appliance Testing at Oxford Brookes University is to employ the University approved contractor. The contact details for this contractor are given in Appendix 1.

Test procedure

  1. Before carrying out any electrical tests the person undertaking portable appliance testing should identify and unplug the appliance and make a visual check of its condition. Any irregularities should be recorded.
  2. The following will then be checked:
    • general condition of the appliance and cleanliness,
    • broken parts, signs of misuse or unauthorised modifications to electrical or mechanical parts,
    • condition of the flex throughout its length. As far as possible, check the flex connection at the appliance, examine the cord grip and cable security,
    • condition of the plug (i.e. remove the plug top and examine the cord grips, conductor terminations and fusing).
    • earth continuity,
    • Insulation flash test if applicable.

Frequency of testing

  1. All portable electrical equipment will be tested at regular intervals based on the current advice from the Safety Manager from information produced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEE). The interval of testing for an item may be altered based on a review of its historical test data after consultation with the Safety Manager. The Faculty/Directorate will record this change in interval of testing and copies will be sent to the Safety Manager.
Utilisation Visual Inspection Full Inspection and Testing
Commercial/Office 12 Months 4 years
Teaching Equipment 12 Months 12 Months
Industrial Before Use 6 Months
Construction Daily 3 Months
Premises used by Public Daily 12 Months
Equipment Hire Before Issue and on Return Before Use
  1. Master copies of the Portable Appliance Testing records must be sent to the relevant Dean or Director (or their nominee). Copies of the Portable Appliance Testing records must be made available to the Safety Manager on request.

New equipment

  1. New items of portable electrical equipment purchased from external suppliers or made within the Faculty/Directorate must be included on the inventory and usually electrically safety tested before use.

Test failures

  1. Any item of equipment failing the electrical safety test must be immediately removed from service. The item of equipment must be repaired and a test certificate issued by the repairer before the item of equipment can be put back into service.

Students' personal equipment

  1. It will be the student's responsibility to ensure that their personal items of equipment are in a safe condition. If a student is unsure whether the item of equipment is safe they may seek guidance from the Safety Manager. Students' personal equipment is not normally included in the electrical safety testing procedure. However, if an unsafe practice e.g. (multiple extension leads) or item of equipment is brought to the attention of a competent person, the item of equipment will be removed or practice stopped until it is repaired at the student's expense or it will be kept until the student leaves the University.


  1. Contact details for the University, approved portable appliance testing contractors