Portable Electrical Equipment Testing (OBUHSN 33)


This health and safety notice must be read and understood by all employees of Oxford Brookes University.

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.

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. Electrical Safety OBUHSN 18 should also be read in conjunction with this health and safety notice.

Portable electrical equipment

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.


The Deans of Faculties/Directors of 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 Officer on request and updated as required. The inventory will include some or all of the following information.

Every item of portable electrical equipment must have a unique identification number.

How to undertake portable appliance testing

The recommended method to undertake Portable Appliance Testing at Oxford Brookes University is to employ one of the University approved contractors. The contact details for these contractors are given in contact details for the University approved portable appliance testing contractors, Appendix 1.

  • If the Dean of Faculty/Director of Directorate wishes to undertake Portable Appliance Testing “in-house” they must appoint a suitably competent person(s) to carry out the inspection and testing of all portable electrical equipment in accordance with any procedures that may be laid down by the Safety Officer.

The person(s) Appointed to Portable Appliance Testing must have attended a recognised training course an example of which is given in Potential Providers.

The Safety Officer will have the authority to reject any person named by the Dean of Faculty/Director of Directorate, who after undergoing training is deemed to be unsuitable for the duties of Portable Appliance Testing.

Test procedure

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.

The following will then be checked:

Frequency of testing

All portable electrical equipment will be tested at regular intervals based on the current advice from the Safety Officer 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 Officer. The Faculty/Directorate will record this change in interval of testing and copies will be sent to the Safety Officer.

Visual Inspection
Full Inspection and Testing
12 Months
4 years
Teaching Equipment
12 Months
12 Months
Before Use
6 Months
3 Months
Premises used by Public
12 Months
Equipment Hire
Before Issue and on Return
Before Use

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 Officer on request.

New equipment

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

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

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 Officer. 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.

Issue 5 June 2013