Guide to regular user checks

These should be the first line of defence against potential problems caused by wear and tear and damage.

Portable appliance testing can be used in conjunction with routine and regular user checks but should not replace them.

Electrical Appliance Safety - User Checks

In addition to formal appliance checks the user of an electrical appliance should regularly check it for damage. If a problem is found the appliance should be removed from service if safe to do so and reported to an appointed responsible person as soon as possible.

If there is not a designated user, then an appointed responsible person should be nominated to carry out user checks. For example, communal equipment in kitchens, printers, faxes and photocopiers in communal areas of the office and cleaning equipment (if applicable).

The following should be checked routinely.


• Not loose in socket-outlet and can be removed from socket-outlet without difficulty

• Free from cracks or damage

• Free from any signs of overheating

• Flexible cable secure in its anchorage

• If the plug is of the non-rewireable type or moulded-on type, the cable grip should be checked by firmly pulling and twisting the cable. No movement should be apparent.

• Pins not bent

• Pins preferably sleeved, particularly where young children may touch the plug

• No cardboard label on the bottom

• Plug does not rattle

Flex or cable

• Good Condition

• Free from cuts, fraying and damage

• Not in a location where it could be damaged

• Not too long, too short or in any other way unsatisfactory

• No joints or connections that may render it unsuitable for use, such as taped joints

• Only one flex connected into one plug (a 13A plug is designed for one cable only – not two)

• Not too tightly bent at any place

• Not run under carpet

• Not a trip hazard

• An extension lead should be inspected throughout its length. This will mean uncoiling coiled-type extension leads.

Socket-outlet or flex outlet

• Free from cracks or other damage

• No sign of overheating

• Shutter mechanism of socket-outlet functioning

• Not loose (i.e. properly secured)

• Switch, if fitted, operates correctly

Adaptor or extension lead fitted with an RCD

• Inspect the device and verify it has a rated residual operating current not exceeding 30mA

• Check device by plugging it in, switching it on and then pushing the test button. The RCD should operate and disconnect the supply from the socket outlet(s)

Appliance or item of equipment

• Free from cracks, chemical or corrosion damage to the case, or damage that could result in access to live parts

• Equipment is operated with protective covers in place and doors closed

• Able to be used safely

• Switches on and off correctly

• Works properly

• Sufficient space to permit cooling. Not positioned too close to walls and partitions so that there is inadequate spacing for ventilation and cooling

• No sign of overheating

• Not likely to overheat. No books or files on top of a computer or towels over a convector heater. 100W lamps should not be fitted in a 60W luminaire

• Cups and plants are not in places where the contents could spill into equipment


• Equipment suitable for its environment

• No indiscriminate use of extension leads or multiway adapters

• Equipment normally not left on overnight


• Equipment suitable for the work it is required to carry out

These user checks are reproduced from: “Code of practice for in-service inspection and testing of electrical equipment” with the kind permission of The Institution of Engineering and Technology