Posted on

Do You Need To Be A Registered Electrician To Test and Tag?

A post about an upcoming Test and Tag Competency event on our Metrotest Facebook page motivated one electrician to call us “Shysters” and less publishable names. He went so far as to do this publicly on our page and named us on his. To add insult to injury, he also left us a bad public review.

But why?

With the above in mind, as a business we could respond in several ways. We could retaliate and also leave a bad review on his page or possibly respond harshly. Whether these options would be the right thing to do is clear, unlike this individual we don’t throw our toys out of the cot.

We at Metrotest believe that professionalism outweighs an emotional reaction and as such, we want to take this as an opportunity to respond constructively and go through some details as to what may have led to the above events.

Every business, at some time or another, gets a bad review or ‘one-star rating’ – it’s nothing new. Sometimes things go wrong and for those born last century, as LV Martin used to say, ‘it’s the putting right that matters.

Constructive criticism only leads to improvement. It helps us identify weakness and encourages us to be better at what we do. We welcome it.  When it’s not constructive, such as in the case of Mr X, the public notices and it puts them in a bad light.

Here’s some thoughts on why this happened:

  • Mr X sees our Competent Person Training taking business off them and being a threat.
  • Mr X does not believe that anyone except a trained electrician can test and tag properly.
  • He may believe that anything ‘electrical’ in a business environment is, or should be, what is termed a ‘prescribed’ activity meaning that an EWRB Electrical Registration and Current Practicing Licence is required.

If this was the case, then why is the electrical board also handing out limited electrical tickets to related trades such as plumbers and within the appliance & IT industries?

Should Mr X feel upset, or should he view companies such as Metrotest as a support system to the electrical industry?

Here are some examples:

  • A properly trained and supported ‘Competent Person’ with a Portable Appliance Tester can not only test correctly and safely, but will sometimes test better than an electrician who does not have the correct equipment and does not know what is required to test to the Standard AS/NZS3760 , AS/NZS3012 and numerous other standards.
  • Qualification may give entitlement to do something, but without competency, safety will be jeopardised regardless of who’s doing the testing. By no means are we suggesting that registered electricians are not competent, but all know that the more you do one particular thing the better you are at it. Testing for electrical safety is all that Metrotest does.
  • Many electricians welcome our services. Whilst they focus on bigger margin jobs, they employ us to do the day to day testing. The time factor alone for them to keep up to date with technology and standards plus doing “smallish” jobs all across town saves them big money every year. In many instances our services are marked up to their clients as well.

Metrotest is your Specialist in Testing and Tagging

Metrotest has electrically qualified and trained individuals, some with current Practicing Licences, some without (as they are not doing a ‘prescribed’ activity).

Metrotest train electrical apprentices and will continue to do so. Metrotest also offer EWRB refresher courses for relative industries seeking to renew their Practicing Licences. We have both trained, competent people and EWRB registered people working for us in our own Test and Tag service since 1998 – that’s over 21 years.

We have two fully qualified staff running our Test Instrument Calibration and Repair Lab. Our own PAT testers are calibrated at least every 6 months, these being the most advanced SAFEFY testing PATs on the world market.  Not to mention that we are also involved in the design and build process.

For those who can test their own equipment this often works out much cheaper than the hourly rate an electrician may charge, especially if you only have a few items.  Also, it can be more convenient as you can tailor the testing around downtime or when it works best for you.

One last thought. In many businesses new items coming into the workplace can be a real problem as in NZ these should not be used until they have been tested and tagged. Calling a company in to test one or a few items will be expensive and likely a logistical nightmare. This problem is compounded if you’re in a remote location, have restricted security or very high security access areas.

If you would like to know more about testing and tagging your portable electrical equipment, then please give our friendly team a call on 0800 638 768.

Happy testing.

Posted on

Noncompliant Test Tags

So our keen-eyed technicians spotted these noncompliant tags during a visit to a new client’s business place. Can you guess what’s wrong with them?

Test tags serve as the record of an appliance testing. They are as important as the testing inspection itself. In addition to displaying the result of the testing (PASS/FAIL and/or actual test values), they also provide information about who conducted the inspection, when the appliance was tested and when it is due for retesting.

For this reason, noncompliant tags are a real headache. They may put unknowing workers at risk of electric shock injuries and could undermine you efforts for obtaining compliance.

Let’s take a look at some of the scenarios where a tag is considered non-compliant:

Incorrectly completed tags

As per AS/NZS 3760 Standard, the minimum required information on a test tag for compliant appliances are as follows:

  • ‘Tested to AS/NZS 3760’ reference
  • Name of individual or company who conducted the test
  • Test date
  • Date when next test is due

Based from the NT WorkSafe Bulletin, if a tag does not include all of the minimum required information, the rest of the required information must be recorded elsewhere and kept for a specific period of time.

However, if the any of the required information is missing or omitted, it could result in your company failing a safety audit. If the incorrectly tagged appliance is taken to another work site or venue, a site safety office may disallow you to use it until you are able to show a fully compliant tag. These scenarios might seem farfetched, but they can and do actually happen.

Reused tags

In addition to the minimum required information, the Standard also imposes specific requirements for the make and quality of the tags used in testing of electrical equipment. Because some electrical equipment are in used harsh environments, such as in construction and mining, the tags must be durable, water resistant, non-metallic, well-secured or self-adhesive, incapable of re-use and have a distinctive surface. The tag print on the tag should also be resistant to fading in order to keep the testing information legible at all times. The idea is to preserve the information and the tag itself, as without this your appliances will be deemed noncompliant.

If a tag is detached and then reused for another testing period, it actually becomes noncompliant regardless if the results of the current inspection and testing are the same.

The test and tag service company cannot simply use a generic tag that says “1 Year Tag” to point out its validity, as different types of appliances require retesting at different frequencies.

So now you know what’s problematic with the particular tags shown above. Make sure you place your trust on reliable test and tag company. It is not enough that they are using HIANZ certified tags if the tags themselves are blank. They would remain invalid during site safety audits.

You don’t want to get caught with non-compliant tags on your electrical devices. So always check that you are using properly trained and fully qualified testing and tagging specialist with up to date information on current standards and regulations.

Posted on

Test and Tag Equipment

There are different tools used in the testing of electrical equipment and appliances. Here are some of the commonly used ones.

Clamp meters

This is a fairly easy to use test tool for measuring current. It combines a basic digital multimeter with a current sensor. As the name suggests, you clamp the hinged jaw of this tool around a wire, cable or other conductor at any random point in an electrical system. It will then measure the current in the circuit without disconnecting it.

This tool is preferred for measuring high levels of current, with a minimum current range of 0 A to 100 A. Other clamp meters go up to a range of 600 A or 1400 A. It’s a good tool for electrical safety and maintenance, but there are more reliable tools when it comes to compliance.

Multimeters

Also known as a volt-ohm-meter, a multimeter is a handheld device used to measure current (amperage), electrical voltage, resistance and other values. It comes in analog and digital versions. Electricians use it for simple tests as well as for detecting faults and complex diagnostics.

Portable appliance testers

Portable appliance testers (PATs) are handheld or compact devices that test a range of electrical equipment and appliances for different values, i.e. earth continuity, current leakage, insulation, etc.

PATs record details about each test which can be printed on a special tag that contains a PASS/FAIL remark or the actual test values.

At Metrotest, we use PATs for their reliability and accuracy. The devices we use are compliant with the AS/NZS 3760 Standard (In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment). Below are some of the test tools we trust and recommend:

  • Metro iPAT SupaPAT – A comprehensive testing package that includes a user-friendly Sonel Metro iPAT Standard Set, thermal transfer printer, scanner and software – all in a specially designed carrier bag.
  • Metro iPAT – A safety and compliance tester with user-friendly operating software (OS) with easy data management. Features Dual Time Tags (DTT) which makes retesting easier. Other features include: manual & automatic test codes; single test ability; high-current earth bond test; RCD tests both installation and portable RCDs (includes ramp test).
  • Sonel Metro EasiPAT – A compact and reliable portable appliance tester for do-it-yourself testing. It comes in handy when testing residual current, leakage, insulation, polarity and earth bond (200mA, 10A). It features a 1-push test selection, light-up LCD display, direct Wi-Fi capability and a Pass/Fail indicator.
  • Megger 150R – A cost-effective portable appliance tester that packs in functionality. The PAT150R is ideal for a wide variety of testing applications such as dual insulation testing (250/500V), portable equipment testing, portable RCD lead testing (10mA/30mA), and mains powered leakage testing (230V). It has adjustable PASS testing limits and onboard rechargeable batteries.
  • Metro 6201A – An entry-level portable appliance tester for low-volume applications. This basic PAT is a good choice where handwritten tags and manually recorded information is all that’s required. It can perform single phase appliance testing up to 10A; earth testing (200mA); insulation testing (250/500V); mains powered leakage testing (operational – 230V); and lead testing.

Clamp meters and multimeters can be connected to your smartphone to make your readings easier. On the other hand, PATs have an onboard memory which can save anywhere from 1,000 to 1,000,000 items. That being said, memory size is not a critical factor in choosing your own PAT as data must be transferred regularly to prevent loss or theft. Most PATs today can save between 10,000 to 50,000 items.

Label printer

Once a test is completed, the appliance tested will have to be tagged. This tag is made of a special, durable material that’s resistant to tearing or fading. This is to ensure that the tag is intact and readable at all times. testing, the person testing will print tags directly from the PAT memory using a suitable printer. The tags must be made of a tough material that is resistant to tearing, damage or fading.

For testers that do not have an internal memory, there are apps available for direct communication from your smartphone to your tester for saving results.

For more information about testing and tagging equipment, ask the experts on 0800 638 768 (NZ) or 1800 789 973 (AU).

Posted on

Test And Tag Regulations In New Zealand

Why should you test and tag?
According to the Electrical (Safety) Regulations 2010, a fitting or appliance is deemed to be electrically safe if it has a current tag issued in accordance with AS/NZS 3760.

So what is the AS/NZS 3760?
AS/NZS 3760 is referred to as the test and tag standard (the full given name of the standard is: In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment). This is a benchmark for test and tag as well as electrical safety and is referred to in many other New Zealand and Australian electrical standards. In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment AS/NZS 3760:2010 provides a process to reduce the risk of electrical shock to users of electrical equipment. It also incorporates the physical safety of the item to be tested, and if the item is in an unsafe state there are actions and steps outlined to remedy this. The Standard covers electrical equipment that connects to the mains supply by a flexible cord and plug.

Other standards and regulations that may be of interest when investigating test and tag include the AS/NZS 3012 (Electrical installations – Construction and demolition sites). As the title suggests this covers the Electrical installations on construction and demolition sites however it also continues on to provide information about the frequency of inspection and testing and RCD testing.


AS/NZS 3551 (Management programs for medical equipment
) outlines electrical tests that are required to be carried out on medical equipment. This is a very in-depth standard and has a multitude of additional information that must be adhered to when testing medical electrical equipment.

 
The above-mentioned standards are a snapshot of what may be required for electrical safety testing and there are many more that pertain to specific industries such as second hand or repaired equipment.

Health and safety at work regulations state that it is the duty of the PCBU to ensure the correct information, supervision, training, and instruction is provided for all staff. This would include any staff that may be carrying out electrical testing as a competent person, therefore once again bringing back into play the AS/NZS 3760 and the training requirements for a competent person.

Other regulations of interest:
AS/NZS 5761:2011 In-service safety inspection and testing – Second-hand electrical equipment prior to sale

AS/NZS 5762:2011 In-service safety inspection and testing – Repaired electrical equipment

AS/NZS 3019:2007 Electrical installations – Periodic verification

Posted on

Starting Your Own Test And Tag Business? Read This!

There is no better time to start your own test and tag business than now. When it comes to potentially dangerous tasks like testing and tagging electrical appliances, people are more likely to outsource rather than DIY. Business owners and company managers also have greater awareness now of their responsibility for ensuring their employees’ safety.

But before you go ahead and draw up a business plan, know what’s required to succeed within the industry so you can save yourself a lot of time and money.

  1. Knowledge and competency

Besides having a strong understanding of the job, the bare minimum requirement here is obtaining competency. It’s not enough that you know the procedures and instruments involved. While you don’t have to be an electrician, you must pass the test in order to be considered a “competent person.”

How do you do that? By getting the proper training and advice, as well as getting practical experience with various test scenarios.

  1. Testing equipment

There are different test equipment options available, and it’s imperative that you know each one very well. Basically, you must know the specific features to look for in a portable appliance testing (PAT) equipment. Since you’re offering test and tag as a service, you’ll need an extensive range of tests at your disposal.

When investing in test equipment, consider solutions that can be upgraded as your business grows. For example, some testers allow you to add a printing functionality.

Once you have established your Test and Tag business, Metrotest can assist with tag design and supply making you more competitive and professional than any other companies in you ares. Check out our current Test and Tag supplies.

  1. Support network

Having support in every part of the business is vital to its success. Since you’re new to the business,  you’ll want to build a support network to help you at some point. This can include getting acquainted with industry associations to stay on top of industry updates, or knowing where to get technical advice when you’re onsite.

Aside from the technical aspects, you’ll also need support in the business part of it — bookkeeping, insurance, management, etc.

Satisfied clients are also an integral part of  strong support system. So as you start in the business, be sure to follow best practices. For instance, as we’re talking about potentially dangerous appliances and human safety, it’s a big no-no to take shortcuts when testing and tagging.

Mindful and quality service is what will build your reputation, which will result in repeat business.

  1. Professional reporting

Since you are providing professional services, your level of reporting must be at the same standard. These reports are a company manager’s proof that they are doing their job of keeping employees safe at work. So more likely than not, they will require a detailed testing report that shows extra information other than the Pass/Fail remarks.

A professional report must include the items that were tested, actual test readings, testing/retesting dates, numerical values of the testing that was carried out etc. What you’ll need in addition to the right testing equipment is a software that will streamline the reporting process.

If you need help getting started, sign up for one of our Test and Tag Training Courses today!

 

 

Posted on

Test and Tag Labels

When it comes to test and tag, Metrotest have been involved right from the beginning and creating Test and Tag labels is no exception.

That is why we thought is was time to shed some light on what you should be getting with your test and tag labels! You’re probably thinking a label is a label, what does it matter. Well you would be WRONG. Not all labels are created equal.

Think of it like this, if you are going to attach a label to a passed piece of electrical equipment, it must have certain information on the tag. Much like a warrant of fitness for a car, an electrical test and tag must state specific information.

So what are the requirements?

1) The tag must be:

  1. Durable – Test and tag labels must be highly tear resistant. The ink used for printing must also be resistant to fading in order to protect the information written on the label. For these reasons, we at Metrotest use tough thermal transfer labels.
  2. Non-Reusable – The test tag labels contain information that is specific to only one appliance for a particular period of time. This is to ensure accuracy of testing information at all times. Hence, the tag must not be reusable once removed.
  3. Non-Metallic – Obviously, metals are electrical conductors so the test tag labels must be non-metallic.

2) Must state a test date

This is the date of the test. It should be clearly stated as well as the retest date to ensure that the appliance is inspected within the recommended test and tag interval for its class. This must be the date the test was carried out, a test month is not suitable.

3) Must state a retest date

Test and tag intervals vary depending on the classification of the electrical appliance and the environment in which it is used. In other words, one piece of electrical equipment may need retesting sooner than another one, so the retest date must be clearly stated to ensure safe operation and compliance. Essentially, the retest date also shows the validity period of the test tag.

4) Must state the name of the company or person who carried out the testing

Since any competent person can carry out test and tag, the ‘Tested By’ field can bear either the name of the person conducting the test and/or the company they represent. If you are using custom tags, then this field can basically be your name printed or the logo of the company doing the test.

5) Must reference the AS/NZS3760

It is compulsory to have the ‘Tested to AS/NZS 3760’ label printed on the test tag, which means the testing process was compliant with the Australian and New Zealand Standards. So you might think all tags will have this printed. However, tags that were imported from overseas or are old may lack this information so it’s a good idea to check.

Here are some other vital information that may be included in the test tag labels:

  • Tag Number – Either pre-printed or handwritten, the tag number helps test and tag professionals with records keeping.
  • Licence/Certificate Number – This is the individual test and tag licence/certificate number of your inspector. Although it is not a requirement, it shows your test and tag technician is duly qualified and competent.
  • Plant Item Number – For purposes of records keeping, this field can provide easy reference for the item’s test history. This number remains the same for the life of the appliance.

Electrical equipment that are newly purchased in New Zealand must also be tested and tagged prior to going into service. In Australia only, aside from an ocular check, they won’t need any further inspection. It is customary to put ‘New to Service’ tags on such items which indicate that they will require testing and tagging in the future.

For a ‘New to Service’ tag, the following information must be stated:

  • Date of entry to service
  • Date of future testing
  • “This appliance has not been tested in accordance with AS/NZS 3760”

These are required for your equipment to be compliant with the standard, if you do not meet all of these requirements or the contractor you have hired to carry out your testing does not have this information on the tags, the probability is that you are getting an appliance check rather than full electrical safety testing, which is likely fraudulent, and at the least, safety is uncertain. Is an appliance check that is not compliant really worth spending your money on?

There are provisions within the AS/NZS 3760 and AS/NZS3012 to use colour coding for testing periods, this is not a requirement for New Zealand however it can be very helpful. The use of different colour labels allows for the person carrying out the testing to easily identify out of date equipment and can also be seen by other staff to help keep on top of testing if required.

Generally, electrical devices or equipment used in construction, mining and demolition sites are required to use time-specific test tag colours:

RED

 
December – February

GREEN

 
March – May

BLUE

 
June – August

YELLOW

 
September – November

In all other industries, the use of a custom colour coding system is allowed. The most common colours used are blue, yellow, green, orange, purple, white, grey and red. We recommend using a different colour for each test and tagging period so it’s easier for you to check which items are due for testing and when.

Whether you need pre-printed tags or custom printed labels, we have the best solution for you. Call us on 0800 638 768 to discuss your test label options!