The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) have released findings that suggest businesses are wasting millions of pounds each year by over maintaining electrical appliances with unnecessary annual tests.

Its research shows that millions of pounds are being pointlessly spent because of the misunderstanding that Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) should be carried out every year, and the IET predicts that businesses could save over £30m annually and £120m over the next four years.

The IET says that external contractors providing PAT services are misinforming businesses that tests should be carried out every year; however it states that testing annually has never been a legal requirement and it is not the case that insurers require policyholders to undertake testing every year, especially in low-risk business environments such as shops, offices and hotels.

To help businesses realise their PAT requirements and to prevent unnecessary electrical appliance maintenance, the IET has published the fourth edition of the Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment.

According to the IET, this new publication will enable individuals with responsibility for electrical equipment, including building managers, office managers and health and safety inspectors, to make more informed decisions on the level of inspection and testing required.

Geoff Cronshaw, Chief Electrical Engineer at the IET, said:

“Misunderstandings around inspection and testing of electrical equipment have led to low-risk businesses paying unnecessarily for over-the-top maintenance regimes.

“The Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment, fourth edition, incorporates major changes reflecting Professor Löfstedt’s report and the Health and Safety Executive’s view that promotes a proportionate risk-based approach when assessing the safety of electrical equipment and appliances, potentially saving businesses millions of pounds.”

The guidance was developed by the IET alongside industry stakeholders including the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Peter Brown, Head of the Work Environment, Radiation and Gas Division, HSE, said:

“We welcome the publication, which will help promote a balanced, risk-based approach to determine how frequently equipment should be maintained, reducing the likelihood of businesses wasting money on unnecessary testing.”