by BT Team

Why do we need to test appliances?

Australian Standards and Occupational health and safety act states that all portable electrical appliances, electrical hand tools, extension leads, powerboards and RCD's (Safety Switches) need to be tested regularly, to ensure safety of employees and employers. Regular testing and maintaining records are an effective way to ensure that appliances are safe and pose no hazards to the user.

Testing is compulsory in all work sites.

The standards we abide by is AS3760, AS3000, AS2293, AS3017, OH&S Regulations and Workcover.

ARE YOU COMPLYING?

The testing and tagging of all portable electrical equipment under AS3760 and AS/NZS 3012 is an essential and legal requirement under the Occupational Health and Safety Welfare regulations.

What is testing and tagging?

The Australian Standards detail Testing and Tagging specifications that must be adhered to by the employer as a minimum requirement. Each piece of equipment must pass a series of tests to prove that they are electrically safe to use. These tests involve the use of special metering equipment to ascertain the insulation resistance, earth continuity, electrical continuity and the integrity of the earth conductor. A visual and mechanical test is also required. Once a piece of equipment has been tested it is necessary to fix an approved tag to it which will specify important information for the employer, the user and any inspector who may desire to check the equipment. Testing and Tagging is very specialised and should only be performed by qualified personnel who have the necessary equipment to perform all such tests.

How often does my equipment need testing?

This can vary for the type of industry you are classified under. For example, if you are in the Building and Construction industry your equipment must be tested and tagged every 3 months, however at the other end of the scale, an office environment may only require testing and tagging every 5 years. Testing and tagging should now be an important part of an employer's routine regular maintenance.

What electrical equipment needs testing and tagging?

All portable plug in equipment whether Double Insulated or Earthed. This means all electrical hand tools, plug in kitchen equipment, electrical cleaning equipment etc. Extension leads and portable power boards must also be tested and tagged. In some circumstances fixed appliances should also be tested.

Is testing and tagging really necessary?

Recent results published by the H.I.A. demonstrated that approximately 15% of electrical equipment tested was faulty and posed an electrical hazard. In some companies the failure rate was as high as 30%. When confronted with these results employers were quite concerned, and did not realise the potential danger they were placing their employees in.

What if I don't comply?

Fines range from $1,000 to $100,000 for failure to comply and should an electrical accident occur and non-compliance is evident, then not only can law-suits be made against all management levels of the business, but also insurance companies may not cover any costs due to failing to comply with the legislation. The risk of turning a blind eye to these laws far outweighs the cost of meeting with the testing and tagging requirements.

RECORD FINE FOR BOAT BUILDER

A Queensland boat building company was fined $40,000 in relation to the death of and apprentice boat builder. The fine is the largest fine imposed under the Queensland Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995.

The young worker died from an electrical shock he sustained whilst attempting to fix a vacuum cleaner.

An investigation by the Quensland Workplace Health and Safety Inspectorate found that the vacuum cleaner had not been tested and tagged in accordance with the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. The electrical circuit to the vessel being cleaned was not fitted with a safety cut-out switch.

The maximum penalty which can be imposed by a Court for a breach of the Act by a corporation is currently $300,000. The highest fine imposed in relation to a breach of the OHS Act in NSW is $200,000.

(NSW WorkCover Authority)

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