There are risks and hazards everywhere in life, some are obvious and can be easily seen and others require more investigation to reduce the risk and remove or at least minimise the risk. When it comes to electricity you cannot see it and where it is flowing and this is why it can be so dangerous.
Let’s say, for example, you are using your toaster. Electricity flows through the elements and cooks the toast, but if it were able to flow through the outside of the toaster, i.e. the case, then you would likely get an electric shock which obviously could be fatal.
To reduce the risk of this happening companies/organisations etc will often inspect and test electrical equipment routinely to ensure there is no obvious visual or mechanical faults and then test the item to make sure it is electrically safe.
In New Zealand and Australia there is a Standard that is designed for this purpose. This Standard is often referred to at the ‘Test and Tag’ Standard and this is mainly because people inspect, then test and then tag their equipment (fit a test tag/label). The Standard officially is known as AS/NZS3760 and is titled ‘In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment’. The purpose behind this Standard is to give guidance on how simply inspection and testing can be done to help reduce the risk of unsafe electrical equipment being in operation. Here’s a quote from the Scope of the Standard ‘In-service testing is a necessary part of any safety program to help ensure the safety of person using electrical equipment in the workplace. This Standard specifies…..and provides a cost-effective approach to safety….’. It is meant to be a short, simple procedure ie inspect it, test it and then tag it to show it was safe when tested. Note; a test date and a retest date are legally required on the tag not just a month!
If once testing is completed there is any doubt about the outcome of the inspection/testing then the equipment should be sent for further investigation and more rigorous testing.
The testing and tagging can be done by a competent person usually using a PAT (Portable Appliance Tester) and this does not necessarily have to be an electrically qualified and registered person. The person, whether electrically qualified or not, needs to be competent to undertake the testing required by the Standard. Records of the testing undertaken are not required to be kept according to the Standard, but we would suggest that if people are testing their own equipment then it would be advisable to keep at least basic records. Even where an outside test provider is testing for you it is not required, but we consider that not getting records including numerical test values would be very foolish. Basic pass/fail records are easily made up and basically prove nothing as they are not auditable. Full test results/records in today’s world add very little cost as they are easily produced direct from a PAT Tester’s memory.
The test equipment, most likely a PAT, must be able to perform the tests required by the Standard on all the different types of equipment requiring testing and this will include Class I items (earthed) and Class II items (double insulated) along with non-permanent wired 3 Phase equipment.
It is now very common for the tag to be printed on site direct from the tester memory, however, there are still some hand-written tags being used, but legitimate professionals know that accuracy and professionalism are essential and that’s what you get with direct printing from the memory PAT.
Often the tags are colour coded, sometimes multicoloured from the same roll and these visually show when testing is due without needing to read the due date on the tag. Some tags contain audit codes and QR codes and can be variable in size. It is important to note that even the lead needs testing and tagging ie computer monitor and lead both need testing and tagging.
The time taken to test an average item and tag it is likely around 3-4 minutes. This will always include a visual inspection along with all other necessary tests, the item must be unplugged and then is normally put back how it was found.
Metrotest performs a huge amount of testing all over New Zealand every year, we usually buy tags in 500,000 at a time. Every test we do for clients will always have full records available and separate from what is on the tag. These records include unique ID number, date, retest date and if desired values of the test results on the tags (plus these are always on all downloaded test reports), together with audit code and QR code. Tags are colour coded to enable easy identification of whether a tag is current or not without the need to read the tag. All tests are performed to the requirement of the Standard, however should we find a shortfall in the Standard we will go for ‘safe’ over just ‘compliant’.
All tests are performed on the world’s most advanced PAT Testers, the METROiPAT SupaPAT (a joint design build between Metrotest in New Zealand and Sonel in Poland).
The METROiPAT has a standard memory of 1,000,000 tests and is packed with features that no one else has and are continually under further development. We believe in real safety testing so where appropriate we will always put a high current earth test through an earth on a Class I item. This can be either 10Amps (10,000mA) or 25Amps (25,000mA). Most test equipment on the market and used by test and tag companies cannot do these tests, and only do a 200mA earth test. Note our testers also do this 200mA test (IT soft test) as well as the 10A and 25Amp tests. A 200mA earth test pretty much just tests the earth’s continuity whereas at 10A or 25A we are testing the earth’s integrity. What would you rather have, compliant or compliant and proved safe?
All our test equipment is calibrated, normally every 6 months, in our fully equipped and staffed calibration and repair facilities either in Auckland or Blenheim. These facilities will calibrate between 800 to 1500 testers on average per year.
All our staff are fully trained, many hold Electrical Registration and all have appropriate clearances such a CAA, Defence, Police etc and will also meet H & S accredited programmes such as Site Safe.
Any items that fail a test will have a totally visually different DANGER DO NOT USE tag attached which will highlight the failure reason (note this is printed directly from the testers’ printer). As well as this an additional large label is attached with details of the failure. The failed item is removed to an agreed location (providing it is moveable) and people in the environment are advised of the outcome and the designated person (if one has been provided) will also be advised and asked to sign off the failure.
Should you wish to discuss your testing needs, book a job or get a price simply call us and we will discuss your needs and come back promptly with a price and start date.