This week, Michael Fitzmaurice TD has raised concerns about the added financial strain being burdened on businesses as there is renewed pressure from regulators and insurers to have all portable appliances in the workplace tested and certified, periodically.

Fitzmaurice explained: “According to businesses who have contacted me over the last while, they have been asked by some companies who carry out (Portable Appliance Testing) PAT certifications for call out fees ranging from €120-€350 – in addition to a per plug price of €4-5 thereafter.”

According to one industry website: “The requirement for PAT Testing is relatively new here in Ireland. Apart from the regulation, many insurance companies and standards authorities are insisting on companies developing PAT Testing within their organisation. The risks to employees, employers and businesses are very real – not only from the risk of electrical shock but also the risk of fire caused by faulty appliances.”

The article on the website continued to explain: “The regulations on Portable Appliance Testing in Ireland can be found in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations, SI 299, 2007. The regulation directs employers to ensure that all portable equipment used in their place of work is periodically inspected and tested by a competent person.”

(Editor’s note, Source: https://www.pat-testers.ie/portable-appliance-testing/what-is-the-law-on-pat-testing/)

Despite this being a legal requirement since 2007, and many employers being unaware of their legal obligations, there has been a renewed focus by insurers in recent months to seek this certification.

Deputy Fitzmaurice says he’s seen the proof of this: “I’ve been provided with a copy of an email from an insurance broker to a constituent that says ‘As discussed, PAT testing is a legal requirement since 2007 and is being requested more and more by insurers especially following on from surveys of premises by insurers when they discover that this has not been done in line with legal requirements.’”

Fitzmaurice speculates that: “Essentially, if a business has not done what is required of them by this legislation, their insurance could be nullified in the event of a workplace accident or fire.”

Criticising the added cost to small businesses, Fitzmaurice questioned which part of what he had discovered was worse: “I don’t know what’s worse, the fact this legislation exists or the fact it’s been around for 14 years or that only now many small businesses are being made aware of their obligations by insurers and standards authorities such as HIQA.”

Fitzmaurice concluded by citing the need for common sense to prevail: “Look, of course there has to be some obligation on employers to ensure the equipment their employees and customers come into contact with is safe, it’s in their best interest to ensure this anyway. No small business wants a claim to hit them, and possibly drive-up their insurance costs.

“However, common sense needs to prevail. When I see emails like the one I mentioned earlier from insurance companies, I don’t see anything to do with health and safety, I see a great excuse for them not to pay-out if something goes wrong. And the state shouldn’t be giving insurers an ‘out’ when it comes to these matters.”

For more information contact Michael Fitzmaurice on 086-1914565

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