WHS Regulation 2011, S. 150 requires that:
A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must ensure that electrical equipment is regularly inspected and tested by a competent person if the electrical equipment is:
- supplied with electricity through an electrical socket outlet, and
- used in an environment in which the normal use of electrical equipment exposes the equipment to operating conditions that are likely to result in damage to the equipment or a reduction in its expected life span.
This includes conditions that involve exposure to moisture, heat, vibration, mechanical damage, corrosive chemicals or dust.
Under the code of practice, ‘Managing electrical risks in the workplace’, in addition to regular testing, electrical equipment should also be tested:
- after a repair or servicing that could affect the electrical safety of the equipment
- before its first use if bought second-hand.
Misconceptions – Testing and Tagging
Testing and tagging is a legislative requirement for all workplaces.
Not all workplaces have a legislative requirement to perform testing and tagging. However, industries such as construction, demolition and mining are required to have their appliances tested and tagged every 3 months. This is because of the harsh conditions that could involve exposing the electrical equipment to moisture, heat, vibration, mechanical damage, corrosive chemicals and dust; which is likely to damage the equipment or reduce its expected life span.
But, any employer does have a duty of care to ensure the safety of its employees, meaning that if someone was hurt from an appliance that wasn’t tested and unsafe, they could be found liable. Therefore, a risk assessment can help determine whether the electrical equipment is being used in any of the above mentioned harsh operating environments at a particular workplace.
Further guidance may be included in AS/NZS 3760:2010 In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment and the manufacturer’s recommendations.
You must be an electrician to test and tag.
No – you don’t need to be an electrician or have an electrical background to test and tag in Australia.
According to AS/NZS 3760:2010, someone who is considered a ‘Competent Person’ is also able to test and tag in Australia. This is achieved by undertaking a test and tag course, which usually takes 1 day to complete; where that person acquires the knowledge and skills in learning to use a Portable Appliance Tester.
New Equipment needs testing and tagging.
New equipment doesn’t need to be tested – just visually inspected and tagged.
Look for obvious damage, defects, any modifications, or discolouration. It involves looking for correct anchoring of flexible cords, making sure the inner cords are not exposed, the external sheath is not cut or damaged to reveal the insulation of the inner cords, looking for spreading of terminals, and checking for the twisting of conductors or any broken filling, by feeling along the length of the cord.
Hire equipment are exempted from testing and tagging.
Persons conducting a business or undertaking hiring out electrical equipment must ensure the equipment is inspected at the commencement of each hire and tested every three months.
The person conducting a business or undertaking using the electrical equipment hired out must ensure that, for the period of the hire, the equipment meets all applicable inspection and testing requirements under the WHS Regulations and this Code.
How often should appliances be tested and tagged?
AS/NZS 3760 (Table 4) recommends particular test and tag frequencies based on the type of environment the appliance resides in. Sometimes, this might differ depending on a workplaces individual risk assessment.
Code of Practice: Managing electrical risks in the workplace
WHS Regulations 2011, NSW
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Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at www.workcover.nsw.au
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