The short answer is ‘YES’
(see the below video)
Our test and tag training does need to be updated and there are several important reasons why (which other companies may avoid telling you). How you do this is up to the individual as there is more than one way to keep your competency according to the AS/NZS3760: 2022.
Let’s look at what another training provider says:
At first glance the above site appears to say once deemed competent BY THEM you are ‘competent’ for life. Now this article is a little misleading at worst and confusing at best (we have had some clients come to us confused if they should or shouldn’t be retrained by it).
It’s interesting to note, (and we found this surprising), that this company reuses a very similar Australian article-which makes no mention of being competent for life! This is odd because Australia and New Zealand both use the same Standard AS/NZS3760.
So, which is it? You do or you don’t need to have your training refreshed? Are you competent or not competent for life?
Metrotest says you should have retraining, but others leave it confusing. Well, let’s look at the Standard AS/NZS3760 to see what it actually says about ‘competency.’
What the Standard AS/NZS3760 says:
We will use AS/NZS3760: 2022, BUT please note that as of writing this, whilst the 2022 version has superseded the 2010 version, the AS/NZS 3760:2010 is what is still cited in the New Zealand Electrical Regulations, which is really important to know! Many get confused about this, including the ‘experts’, because there is a difference between a ‘Standard’ and an ‘Electrical Regulation’. (We’ll leave it up to the reader to decide, but we were a little confused why the above-quoted article writer struggled to appear to not know the difference between a Standard and a Regulation as they state, ‘Standards NZ do change the Regulation from time to time’).
1.4.5 Competent Person – A person is one who the RESPONSIBLE PERSON ensures has the necessary practical and theoretical skills, acquired through training, qualification, experience, or a combination of these, to correctly undertake the required tasks.
(1) A competent person is not required to be a registered or licenced electrical practitioner. Requirements for registration vary between jurisdictions.
(2) Competency levels should be maintained; this includes updating skills and knowledge as necessary following technological advances in both the testing instrumentation available and the equipment being inspected and tested as well as changes to this standard.
What’s important to note here are 3 things:
1. The testing person must be competent, and it must be maintained.
2. Competency DOES NOT necessarily need to come through formal training.
3. The Responsible person MUST ensure the competent person is ‘actually competent’ to undertake the REQUIRED TASK (varying levels of competency for numerous reasons)
Let’s think for a moment about why we inspect and test and tag. Is it not to ensure the safety of the users of electrical equipment? This is not a minor thing, and this is why the Standard puts LEGAL responsibility onto the Responsible Person (definition of who is the Responsible person is also found under 1.4.20 a-c).
Remember also, it is all about safety, not mere compliance; people’s lives matter.
At Metrotest, we really don’t want to confuse people, no one wants that. If you read the Standard in context, it becomes very clear, that you are NOT automatically competent for life or that you won’t need another training for life.
Why you should also keep your training up to date
Metrotest employs people who actually have decades of electrical experience with EWRB Practising Licenses in the electrical industry and who have to update their licenses. Why? Obviously, to make sure they know their stuff because with the electrical industry, not knowing what you’re doing, can be deadly.
Having qualified trainers with real electrical experience means you will be less likely to miss picking up serious faults when testing equipment, faults that could easily electrocute. Don’t think it couldn’t happen; it does, even to the ‘experts’.
Whilst you may not be replacing sockets and plugs (you need to be a fully qualified and registered electrical worker with a current Practicing Licence for this), in the latest version of the Standard, a competent person is not required to be a registered or licensed electrical practitioner, however when you are performing testing and tagging, you are still working around electricity.
Imagine you believe you don’t need to do retraining, it’s been 5 years since your training, and it’s okay because you were led to believe by the company that trained you that it was for life. You also feel pretty confident because you also had a quick flick through the Standard. You start performing testing, but you don’t quite remember the order of a visual inspection and start at the appliance end with the plug still plugged into the mains. If there’s a fault, what could happen?
And this is the point we are making; people forget and create bad habits (like attaching earth clips to grinder discs-we’ve seen it!), and it does happen, and as a training provider, we see it all the time.
So, to recap, yes, absolutely you should get your test and tag training refreshed because:
- The new Standard makes it clear that the responsible person should ensure/maintain competency and keep up to date; competency isn’t for life!
- In the electrical industry, electrical workers have to renew their Practising Licenses because they work with electricity – while you don’t need to be registered, test and tag workers also work around electricity.
- Making sure you haven’t created any bad habits or forgotten key best practices (the grinder)
- You may be using a new unfamiliar testing instrument or testing unfamiliar appliances, take 3-phase for example.
- Companies won’t guarantee support for life if something happens because you did a course with them 5 years ago; generally, only if their own licensing system is up to date will they help if something goes seriously wrong.
Hopefully, this gives you a much better understanding of why yes, contrary to other training providers, you should get refreshed/retained and why Metrotest’s training isn’t for life.
Metrotest, have been providing competency training and assessments for testing based around AS/NZS 3760 back as far as 1999 both in New Zealand and Australia. Right from the very beginning we knew training had to be thorough and fully supported. We recognised the need for ongoing retraining, and encouraged it, however, at no time did we ever say trainees had to do retraining, nor did we say you in fact had to receive formal training. We introduced a voluntary licensing regime designed to encourage best practices.
Unlike some training providers, when we introduced online training, we believed the best training also included a one-on-one assessment over video – we’ve never done ‘online group assessments’. We understand the financial benefits of doing this as a group for a training provider, but this would not provide the individual evidence of ‘competency’.
One of Metrotest’s founding Directors, Mark Goldthorpe, entered the electrical industry shortly after leaving secondary school and holds electrical registration with the New Zealand EWRB (Electrical Workers Registration Board). Most of his work experience has been in the electrical industry and has also been on the Standards Committee responsible for writing AS/NZS3760 since before 2000.
Metrotest’s, other big difference is that we teach what we do. That’s because we operate an NZ-wide electrical testing service with permanent staff from Auckland to Dunedin.
Changes to the Standard
As a last note, as already mentioned, the AS/NZS3760:2022 has come out which makes some changes to the AS/NZS 3760:2010 and below are some of the major changes you should know about. Please, note these are some of the major changes and it is highly recommended you read through the new Standard yourself as these are not all the changes and remember it hasn’t been cited in the New Zealand Electrical Regulations yet.
Some of the changes are:
- Change to the title, it’s now called In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment and RCDs (in Australia it has requirements for the testing of fixed RCDs).
- Changes to the requirements for a ‘Competent’ person, there’s a greater requirement to ensure competency is maintained-see 1.4.5 note 2 under Competent person for some of these changes.
- The introduction of the term ‘Third party’ – this comes up under Definitions, see 1.4.23, this is completely new to the Standard and creates another category of testing providers, these were already in existence, but now they have been categorised.
- I’m not sure if this is a typo, but currently, the Standard requires both the name of the person and entity who performed said testing to be written on the tag; I suspect the name will be replaced with an alternative.
- Big changes have been made around documentation requirements. There are now far more requirements including keeping/supplying the actual test values of tests performed. No longer is a simple ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ acceptable in some circumstances – changes are different depending on who is doing the testing and what jurisdiction testing is being performed in. See heading 2.6 Documentation for full details. If you’re looking to purchase test equipment or a PAT check this out carefully as record keeping can be either very slow or very quick, depending on your test equipment.It could possibly successfully be argued that if the test values are printed on the actual test tag, that this may meet the minimum requirement – I believe that both the METROiPAT2 SupaPAT and the METRO EasiPat10 have the best recording/printing systems, these are worth checking out.
- Clarification on leakage testing, including more info on 3-Phase testing requirements- there is normally no alternative to a powered-up leakage test, the 500V Insulation test, though frequently done, is in practice only suitable for 3-Phase leads
- Clarification of diagrams in the Appendices, including colour diagrams
- A note under Appendix D – Earth Continuity testing, now makes mention of when a higher earth test current may be applied, see note under D.2 Instrumentation.
In summary, if you perform testing to the requirements of this Standard, we suggest you get a new copy and get familiar with it now, there are also many more changes, we have just mentioned some of the bigger ones. https://www.standards.govt.nz/ shop/asnzs-37602022/
Safe testing everyone.