Test and Tag Regulations New South Wales
The electrical test and tag legislation in NSW has recently changed. On Friday 28 April 2006 Workcover NSW published the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Electrical Equipment) Regulation 2006 to amends the previous legislative contained in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 2001. This amending regulation now outlines working environments where testing and tagging of electrical equipment is required.
Clause 64 (2)(a2) 1 ‘all electrical articles that are used in construction work are regularly inspected, tested and maintained by a competent person to ensure they are safe for use if the articles are supplied with electricity through an electrical outlet socket’
Clause 64 (2)(a3) 1 ‘all electrical articles that are supplied with electricity through an electrical outlet socket that are at a place of work where the safe operation of the electrical article could be affected by a hostile operating environment are regularly inspected, tested and maintained by a competent person to ensure they are safe for use’
Clause 64 (3) 1 ‘In this clause, hostile operating environment means an operating environment at a place of work where an electrical article is in its normal use subjected to operating conditions that are likely to result in damage to the article, and, for example, includes an operating environment that may:
(a) cause mechanical damage to the article, or
(b) expose the article to moisture, heat, vibration, corrosive substances or dust that is likely to result in damage to the article.’
Many people interpret this as all plug-in electrical equipment must be inspected, tested and tagged. This is not the case, some plug-in electrical equipment present as a low risk and will not need such a stringent testing procedure. A risk assessment must be carried out on electrical equipment that is not placed in a hostile working environment. Once the risk assessment is carried out a range of control measures to manage the safe operation of these electrical appliances can be used. The Workcover NSW publication entitled Electrical Equipment Risk Assessment outlines the procedure to undertake a risk assessment.
All electrical equipment in hostile environments must be tested and tagged by a competent person. A competent person is someone who has acquired the knowledge and skill to perform the task. This knowledge can be obtained through training, qualification or experience. All tests must be conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Australian and New Zealand standard AS/NZ 3760: 2003. All unsafe appliances must be repaired, replaced or permanently removed from use.
Clause 65(1)1 ‘An employer must ensure that a record is made and kept of all inspections and tests made and maintenance carried out on electrical articles and electrical installations required by this Part’. The persons who performed the test, the date on which the test was preformed, the date of the next test, and the outcome of the test must all be recorded.
It is also up to the employer, as the person authorizing the work, to make sure that the testing and tagging program is adequate for the needs of the workplace.
Testing Construction Electrical Equipment
Due to the hazardous nature of construction work regular testing and tagging of electrical equipment must be carried out in accordance with the requirements outlined in the Work Cover NSW Code of Practice – Electrical practices for construction
Clause 14.12 ‘Ensure that all flexible extension cords, portable tools and electrical plant supplied at a voltage above 32 volts (extra low voltage) are inspected, tested and tagged as per Clause 14.7 and 14.8 by a licensed electrician at regular monthly intervals or at regular 3 monthly intervals for single unit dwelling house sites. Record details of the inspections and tests in a book kept on site or at the owner’s premises.’
All electrical equipment including those keep in sheds and site offices must be tested and tagged in accordance to the Code of Practice – Electrical practices for construction and a durable non metallic tag must be applied. A different colour tag must be used for each month as follows:
January - Red
February - Blue
March - Orange
April - Green
May - White
June - Yellow
July - Blue
August - Green
September - Red
October - Yellow
November - Orange
December – White
The tag must include the date of the inspection, the plant number or inspection number of the item inspected, the name of the testing company.
Advice to Employees
All workplace should be performing risk assessment on electrical equipment. And if it is found that the electrical equipment is placed into a hostile environment, they shall be tested and tagged in accordance to AS/NZ 3760: 2003. If this is not the case in your workplace, you as an employee, should approach your employer and request that this be done as soon as possible. If it is not done, then the employer is breaching his/her duty under Clause 641.
1 Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Electrical Equipment) Regulation 2006
2 Code of Practice – Electrical practices for construction