What Equipment Needs to be Tested?
Any appliance within a business that has a flexible cord that plugs into either a single phase 240V power outlet or 3 phase 415V power outlet needs to be tested regularly to ensure that the appliance is electrically safe to use within the workplace. These appliances include anything from computers to toasters, or drills and other tools to factory machinery. Any appliance within the workplace that is under 16kg or is over 16kg but has a carry handle (which makes it portable), needs to be tested, and continue to be tested in order to adhere to Occupational Health and Safety regulations, and comply with Australian Standards AS/NZ 3760.
All portable equipment and appliances, electric hand tools, extension leads, power boards and portable residual current devices must be regularly tested for electrical safety.
This includes, but is not limited to, equipment such as.........
OFFICE • Computers and laptop chargers • Portable printers & scanners • Portable lighting • Portable heater/cooler • Portable radios/stereos • Portable phone chargers (including mobile phone chargers) • Overhead projector, data projectors and electric whiteboards • Any power boards and extension cords • Vacuum or Steam Cleaner
KITCHEN • Electric fry pans, toaster ovens, sandwich presses etc • Un-mounted microwaves • Portable electric mixers, food processors • Portable electric coffee machine and grinder • Any power boards and extension cords • Vacuum or Steam Cleaner
ACCOMMODATION • Toasters, kettles and other portable cooking equipment • Entertainment equipment such as Stereos, Radios, DVD players, TVs etc • Portable lamps and heaters • Hair dryers, bedside clocks, electric blankets, Iron • All extension leads and power boards • Portable phone chargers
SCHOOLS • Computers and laptop chargers • Portable printers, laminators & scanners • Overhead projector, data projectors and electric whiteboards • Toasters, kettles and other portable cooking equipment • Entertainment equipment such as Stereos, Radios, DVD players, TVs etc • Portable lamps and heaters • Portable phone chargers • All extension leads and power boards
Addvise for OH&S Reps!?
Tagging and checking of all "in-service" electrical plug-in equipment in accordance with AS3760 should now be the norm in all workplaces. If this is not the case in your workplace, as an OHS rep, you should approach your employer and request that this be done as soon as possible. If it is not done, then the employer is breaching his/her duty under Section 21.
If the workplace is a construction site, then the Industry Standard for Electrical Installations on Construction Sites must apply (and also another document which outlines some of the changesto it). WorkSafe has also developed a document answering Frequently Asked Questionson the standard.
Both the Electrical Safety Act, 1998 and the Electrical Safety (Installations) Regulations apply, as well the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1985. In addition, a number of Australian Standards, including AS3760, are referenced in the Industry Standard, and so are mandatory.
For more information, contact your union.
What Is AS/NZ 3760 Standard?
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (rev. 2004) states: that if you are an employer, self-employed person, an employee, or any person lending a portable appliance to another person, that you have a duty of care under common law, and the OH&S Act, to ensure that the equipment/appliance is safe.
Australian Standard AS/NZ3760, is used by Worksafe Victoria as a minimum safety obligation for workplaces to adhere to.
Under the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act (2004), the employer has a legal obligation to ensure that the workplace and the plant at the workplace is safe and without risks to health (Section 21). This means identifying whether there are any hazards associated with electrical equipment, assessing the associated risks and taking measures to eliminate or control those risks.
WorkSafe Victoria advises that electrical safety testing and tagging for all plug-in equipment falls under the general obligations of Section 21(2)(a)of the Act. In the past, the VWA has advised all employers to introduce a safety testing protocol. In some workplaces (for example all government departments) it is considered more or less mandatory that all electrical equipment be checked and "tagged" regularly.
The Australian New Zealand Standard AS/NZS3760 In-Service Safety Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment is nationally accepted as the minimum safety protocol for the workplace, and applies to plug-in or non-fixed equipment. The VTHC has been advised that WorkSafe Victoria is now "actively enforcing the standard and inspecting all types of premises to confirm introduction of minimum safety testing programs consistent with AS/NZS 3760." The standard applies to all types of electrical equipment in offices, factories and so on (ie tools, machines, computers, even jugs and cooling fans).
In addition, Inspection and testing must be carried out by a competent person. One who has acquired training, qualification and/or experience with the knowledge and skill to enable the task to be performed correctly.
Why Should I Test And Tag My Electrical Equipment?
Your current insurance policy (including your Public Liability cover) may not cover accidents on site caused by equipment that does not comply with the relevant laws and safety regulations.
As individuals and the broader community alike become more aware and concerned with adhering to OH&S laws, great care has to be taken to avoid accidents in the workplace. The presence of regulations protecting employees against company negligence, means that the prosecution of the employer in cases of negligence is much more likely and harsher penalties are faced, than were in the past.
A well planned program of preventive maintenance, with regular electrical safety checks, is the ideal way to avoid unnecessary and unfortunate accidents, as well as the legal ramifications that follow.
How Often Do I Have To Get My Equipment Tested?
Every work situation is different and the frequency of testing depends on the harshness of the environment the equipment is in. There may be multiple environments in the one workplace, which means that some appliances may need to be retested in as little as 3 months if the surroundings are harsh. However, if the surrounding environment is less detrimental to the appliance itself, retest dates may extend to a period of anywhere up to 5 years.
Australian Standards AS3760 clearly outline how often portable appliances in different workplace environments must be tested as outlined in the document linked below.
Testing and inspection intervals for electrical equipment
What Is The Law?
Under the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act (2004), the employer has a legal obligation to ensure that the workplace and the plant at the workplace is safe and without risks to health (Section 21). Electrical safety testing and tagging for all plug-in equipment falls under the general obligations of Section 21(2)(a)of the Act. In some workplaces it is considered more or less mandatory that all electrical equipment be checked and "tagged" regularly. The Australian New Zealand Standard AS/NZS3760In-Service Safety Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipmentis nationally accepted as the minimum safety protocol for the workplace, and applies to plug-in or non-fixed equipment. The standard applies to all types of electrical equipment in offices, factories and so on (ie tools, machines, computers, even jugs and cooling fans).What Does Test And Tagging Involve?
The process of testing appliance involves the following:
Visual Inspection: The most important test is a Visual Inspection of the device, especially leads. Cords should be firmly anchored in plugs, connections made solidly with no frayed ends. Copper terminals should be clean and not pitted.
Electrical Testing: The appliance will be tested with various test equipment to test for any unseen electrical faults. These tests include; a polarity test; an insulation resistance test; earth routine or earth bond test; earth continuity, and an earth leakage test.
Record Keeping: Although the AS3760 does not refer to record keeping upon completion of any test, various codes of practices refer to this. In spite of this we recommend all information be recorded comprehensively, whether in a database or a hand written in a log book.
Tags: A safety tag must be placed on the appliance verifying its has been tested & is safe to use. This tag must clearly display on the appliance cord:
- The name of the tester or test companies
- The date tested or retest date
The above are the only things that are outlined in Australian Standards, however we recommend that the tag should contain both the name of the tester and the test company name, and both the date tested and the retest date.