Testing and tagging, the cornerstone of ensuring the safety of portable electrical appliances, stands as a critical component of any workplace’s safety standards. But in the realm of business ownership and management, the question looms: is testing and tagging a mandatory duty?
For business owners and managers, the question of whether testing and tagging is obligatory may arise. While it’s prudent to conduct testing and tagging regardless of legal mandates, gaining clarity on its compulsory nature and its implications holds top importance.
Testing and tagging is a legally mandated practice for certain industries, including building and construction, demolition, and mining. These sectors, classified as having a “hostile operating environment,” expose portable electrical appliances to potential damage in the course of regular operations. Consider the bustling setting of a construction site.
For such industries, testing and tagging becomes an integral facet of their OH&S/WH&S compliance, with large penalties for non-compliance.
In contrast, other industries view testing and tagging as a recommended but non-compulsory practice. Despite this, business owners and responsible personnel (such as managers or supervisors) bear a duty of care to employees and visitors. This responsibility extends to ensuring an electrically safe environment. While testing and tagging isn’t legally mandated, adopting this practice enhances workplace safety. Neglecting equipment safety could potentially expose the responsible person to liability in case of accidents resulting from faulty electrical appliances. Thus, testing and tagging becomes a proactive measure to mitigate the risks of electrical mishaps.
The protocols of testing and tagging are governed by the safety standard AS/NZ 3760. This standard specifies the permissible conductors of testing and tagging, the methods employed, and the frequency of assessments based on the specific work environment.
According to AS/NZ 3760, competent individuals equipped with the necessary skills, training, and knowledge of the standard can conduct testing and tagging. Before enlisting a company’s testing and tagging services, it’s vital to ensure that their technicians meet these qualifications and have received training in accordance with the provisions of the standard.
Surprisingly, the individual performing testing and tagging doesn’t need to be a registered electrician in most Australian states. While selecting a test and tag provider, it’s crucial to remember that the primary responsibility for electrical safety rests with the business’s responsible personnel. Therefore, due diligence is essential when engaging a company, with an emphasis on standards compliance and additional qualifications.
Before choosing a test and tag provider, verify that they provide comprehensive reports post-service. These reports should encompass an assets list detailing tested appliances, their status, and next test due dates. Additionally, a report outlining failed items, categorised by different business areas, is crucial. Ideally, detailed test results including the type of test conducted, load assessments, and leakage observations should also be available. These reports serve as documentation of safety measures, potentially useful for insurance or claims resulting from electrical faults.
When a test and tag provider is engaged, they assess every portable appliance on the premises. The testing process involves a visual inspection to identify damage, followed by electrical testing using a Portable Appliance Tester. Successful appliances receive tags indicating the results, the tester’s name, and the next test date.
Requesting consistent tag colors throughout your business visits can offer clarity. While not compulsory, uniform tags allow immediate assessment of compliance across the establishment. A mismatched tag can raise flags, leading to manual checks for the due date or the possibility of the appliance being overlooked during the previous testing round.
All portable electrical appliances conforming to the criteria of AS/NZS 3760 require assessment. This includes devices with a flexible cable, a detachable plug, and a voltage exceeding 50V. The ambit extends to ancillary appliances like kettles, microwaves, and refrigerators. Extension leads, cord sets, and portable residual current devices (RCDs) also fall under this umbrella.
It’s pivotal to recognise that the focus is on appliances used on-site, irrespective of ownership. For instance, in an aged care home, appliances brought in by residents’ relatives and left in their rooms should undergo testing before use, even if not owned by the facility.
The frequency of appliance checks hinges on your industry and the specific environment. For standard office settings, the recommendation is an annual testing cycle. However, specialised environments like commercial kitchens require biannual assessments. Establishments such as hotels or motels operate on a two-year testing cycle for appliances in residential areas.
Hire equipment abides by special provisions under AS/NZS 3760. These rentals necessitate testing and tagging every three months, coupled with a visual inspection by the hirer before each use. This visual inspection is pivotal, as up to 90% of equipment faults can be identified through this process.
The official websites of the regulatory bodies in each state, responsible for test and tag regulations in Australia, can provide more information.
New South Wales (NSW)
Official Website: www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au
Official Website: www.worksafe.vic.gov.au
Official Website: www.worksafe.qld.gov.au
Western Australia (WA)
Official Website: www.commerce.wa.gov.au/energysafety
South Australia (SA)
Official Website: www.safework.sa.gov.au
Official Website: www.worksafe.tas.gov.au
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
Official Website: www.accesscanberra.act.gov.au
Northern Territory (NT)
Official Website: www.worksafe.nt.gov.au
If you would like to learn more about how we can assist you in managing electrical compliance for all your sites, please contact us now on 1300 881 116.
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