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New Zealand and Australia have different legislation when it comes to electrical safety testing, but both have the Standards AS/NZS3760 and AS/NZS3012 as the basis for how to test and tag. In New Zealand testing time frames for retesting and inspecting equipment can be found in Table 4 AS/NZS3760:2010 and Table 7 AS/NZS3012:2010.
About the Standard AS/NZS3760 (current version 2010)
In 2010 the latest version, which was a complete revision, was released. Changes in this included revised testing periods in Table 4, new tag requirements to show referencing to AS/NZS3760/3551 and retest time/date.
NOTE: There are some parts of the Standard AS/NZS3760 which apply to just one country - these differences are highlighted within the Standard
Other Standards such as AS/NZS3012, AS/NZS5761 and AS/NZ5762 etc are also appropriate. It is however AS/NZS3760 which has the greatest general knowledge on testing.
The FOREWORD of this Standard says:
'In-service testing is a necessary part of any safety program to help ensure the safety of persons using electrical equipment in the workplace. This Standard specifies in-service safety inspection and testing protocols and criteria that satisfy these obligations, and provides a cost-effective approach to safety without jeopardising personnel safety or involving excessive equipment downtime.'
The OUTCOME STATEMENT says:
'AS/NZS3760 will enable persons responsible for the safety of electrical equipment in the workplace to instigate an inspection and testing programme to achieve that aim. It also enables persons undertaking the inspection and testing to carry out the task in a safe and effective manner.'
It was suggested by a senior OSH/Workplace Inspector that whilst testing is not compulsory, maintaining safety is, and unless you have complied with AS/NZS3760 as a minimum then OSH/DOL/WorkCover would not consider you have 'taken all reasonable steps' and would likely use non-compliance with AS/NZS3760 as the basis for prosecution should the need arise.
Legal Requirements in New Zealand (Jump to Legal Requirment in Australia)
The 3 main documents you need to look at when deciding whether or not you are going to test are:
- Standard AS/NZS3760 In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment - the most referred to document when finding out how to test & tag equipment
- Health & Safety at Work Act 2015 and the Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Act 2002 - provides an outline on responsibilities for health and safety and why electrical testing is required
- The Electrical (Safety) Regulations 2010
See below for more information:
The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 states:
Part 2 Section 36
(1)A PCBU must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of—
(a)workers who work for the PCBU, while the workers are at work in the business or undertaking; and
(b)workers whose activities in carrying out work are influenced or directed by the PCBU, while the workers are carrying out the work.
(2)A PCBU must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of other persons is not put at risk from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking.
(3)Without limiting subsection (1) or (2), a PCBU must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable,—
(a)the provision and maintenance of a work environment that is without risks to health and safety; and
(b)the provision and maintenance of safe plant and structures; and
(c)the provision and maintenance of safe systems of work; and
Part 2 Section 38
(1)A PCBU who manages or controls fixtures, fittings, or plant at a workplace must, so far as is reasonably practicable, ensure that the fixtures, fittings, or plant are without risks to the health and safety of any person.
The Electrical Safety Regulations 2010 state:
2 r 26 When fittings and appliances in use deemed to be electrically safe.
- This regulation applies to a fitting or appliance, other than an electrical medical device, that is in use, or available for use:
- by an employee or contractor of the owner of the fitting or appliance; or
- by a hirer or lessee under a hire or lease agreement with the owner of the fitting or appliance; or
- by the occupier of premises that are rented or leased from the owner of the fitting or appliance.
The Requirements for Training
Under the Health & Safety at Work Act 2015 and the Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Act 2002
Part 2 Section 36
A PCBU must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable,—
the provision of any information, training, instruction, or supervision that is necessary to protect all persons from risks to their health and safety arising from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking;
'Competent' Person Requirements
Under the Standard AS/NZS3760:2010 In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment '1.4.4 A competent 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.'
Definition of Grade A and grade B offences according to Electrical Regulations Part 1, section 10. Offence Types (1)A Grade A offence is an offence for which the defendant, on summary conviction, is liable,—
- (a)for an individual, to a fine not exceeding $10,000; or
- (b)for a body corporate, to a fine not exceeding $50,000.
(2)A Grade B offence is an offence for which the defendant, on summary conviction, is liable,—
- (a)for an individual, to a fine not exceeding $2,000; or
- (b)for a body corporate, to a fine not exceeding $10,000.
It is also important to note the following NZ Regulation - Electrical (Safety) Regulations 2010 'Part 6 s 82 - Offences relating to false or incorrect marking
- A person commits a grade A offence if he or she tags or marks a fitting or appliance with a false or incorrect tag or marking relating to electrical safety' See above for definitions of Grade A & B
In New Zealand any colour of tag may be used (this is not the case in Australia)
Employers must ensure employees are either sufficiently experienced to undertake their work safely or are supervised by an experienced person. Should there be an accident then confirming assessments and paperwork will help to prove that this has been undertaken.
It is very important that you can prove that your employees are adequately trained, with the emphasis on the safe use of all plant that employees are or may be required to use or handle. Employers must ensure that employees have the knowledge and experience that they need to safely carry out their work and to use the plant in their place of work.
Electrical safety testing and tagging is not what is called a 'Prescribed Activity' under the Electrical Regulations and so a person does not need to be a qualified and registered electrician. However, in order to do repairs and maintenance on appliances, then for this an Electrical Registration and Current Practicing Licence are required.
Your staff member does need some way of proving, especially in the event of an Worksafe investigation, that they were 'competent'. This is where training and assessment is important.
The Work Heath and Safety Regulations 2011, Section
- 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, including conditions that involve exposure to moisture, heat, vibration, mechanical damage, corrosive chemicals or dust.
This means that electrical equipment located in a hazardous environment is required to be tested, however as stated in the following section from the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, all equipment must undergo a risk assessment and this may recommend testing of the equipment
Section 21. Duty of persons conducting businesses or undertakings involving management or control of fixtures, fittings or plant at workplaces.
(2) The person with management or control of fixtures, fittings or plant at a workplace must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the fixtures, fittings and plant are without risks to the health and safety of any person.
Most States refer to AS/NZS3760 as to specific requirements and time frames for testing.
Requirements for New to Service Equipment In Australia - New to service equipment does not need to be tested but it must be inspected and tagged as being new to service.
The Work Heath and Safety Regulations 2011 Section 150 states:
(2) In the case of electrical equipment that is new and unused at the workplace, the person conducting the business or undertaking:
- is not required to comply with subregulation (1); and
- must ensure that the equipment is inspected for obvious damage before being used.
Further to this, AS/NZS 3760:2010 Section 1.2.1 states: Section 1.2.1 New Equipment In Australia When the equipment is new, the supplier is deemed responsible for its initial electrical safety.
New equipment need not be tested but shall be examined for obvious damage. Where deemed compliant the owner or responsible person shall ensure it is tagged in accordance with 22.214.171.124 (c) 126.96.36.199 (c)
In Australia, equipment that is new and entering into service for the first time but not tested and tagged shall have a tag applied that includes the following information:
- Wording 'New to Service'
- Date of entry to service
- Date when the next test is due
- Statement 'This appliance has not been tested in compliance with AS/NZS3760'
The Requirements for Tagging/Labels
The requirements for label/tags is found in AS/NZS 3760:2010 Section 188.8.131.52
The tag shall be durable, legible, non-reusable, non metallic and may be coloured to identify the period in which the test was performed, and shall include all of the following information as a minimum
- The name of the person or company who performed the test;
- The test or inspection date, a retest date and a reference to AS/NZS3760.
The Requirements for Record Keeping
Not all States mandate that tested items must be tagged. However, almost all require that records be kept if testing is undertaken. Tagging is suggested in the Standard as a practical record keeping option.
(3) The person must ensure that a record of any testing carried out under subregulation (1) is kept until the electrical equipment is:
- next tested; or
- permanently removed from the workplace or disposed of.
(4) The record of testing:
- must specify the following:
- the name of the person who carried out the testing;
- the date of the testing;
- the outcome of the testing;
- the date on which the next testing must be carried out; and
- may be in the form of a tag attached to the electrical equipment tested.
Victoria Health and Safety Regulations 2007 state:
3.5.24 Control of risk
(1) An employer must ensure that any risk associated with electrical equipment is eliminated so far as is reasonably practicable.
While Victorian State legislation does not mandate testing, regular inspection and testing in accordance with AS/NZS3760 is a reliable way to fulfil the requirement to practicably eliminate risk and is recommended by Energy Safe Victoria.
In Queensland, testing of electrical equipment is addressed by the Electrical Safety Regulation 2007. Time frames for testing are set according to the 'class of work' the equipment is used in.
The Requirements for Training All states require that testing be carried out by a competent person. Under the Standard AS/NZS3760:2010 In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment '1.4.4 A competent 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.
Note: a competent person is not required to be a registered or licensed electrical practitioner This means that as long as your staff member is deemed as 'competent' under AS/NZS 3760:2010 and is adequately trained in the safe use of all equipment that they use or handle, then you can test & tag in house.
It is also a requirement under the Queensland Electrical Safety Act for a test and tag service provider to be deemed competent and also hold a Restricted Electrical Contractors licence.
To put it in a nutshell:
To meet your obligations under the above Regulations and Standards you have to be able to legally prove that you have taken all practicable steps.
Inspecting and testing equipment in compliance with AS/NZS3760:2010 presently is the simplest most cost effective option to ensure safety and legal protection without risking prosecution in the event of an accident. ALL workplaces must maintain safety and this includes electrical safety.
Many dangers can be seen electricity cannot – this makes it potentially more dangerous
COMPLIANCE WITH AS/NZS3760 IS THE SENSIBLE LOW RISK SAFE OPTION