Microwave Leakage Testing – Is Your Workplace Safe?

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By Matthew Mckay, Operations Manager – Electrical at Grosvenor Engineering Group

Most offices in Australia have a microwave, however many office managers don’t know that there is danger lurking in them. Research undertaken by Grosvenor Engineering Group (Grosvenor) found that one in four microwaves are failing the microwave leakage safety test.

The most common cause of microwave oven leakage is faulty or worn-out door seals. This can occur from mistreatment, food build-up or the age of the microwave. There is an electrical standard – AS/NZS 3760 for compliance purposes when testing microwaves.

Microwave leakage – what is it?

Microwave ovens use electromagnetic radiation to heat food. If microwave ovens are used while broken or altered, it is possible for them to leak electromagnetic radiation. Microwave radiation leaks are hard to detect because you can’t smell or see them.

Testing microwave radiation leakage

Two tests are recommended – an Electrical Test and Tag and Radiation Leakage.

A qualified expert should be used to undertake both tests. These tests involve using a microwave oven radiation leakage detector (hand held device). This microwave leakage detector is a high-quality product with a technology that utilises an advanced sensor for detecting radiation leakage from a microwave. Radiation levels typically need to be below 5mW/cm2.

AS/NZS 3760 – Microwave leakage test regulations & standards in Australia

The AS/NZS 3760 is an Australian Standard that oversees the electrical safety of portable appliances. Its main goal is to ensure workplaces are safe by setting out recommendations in relation to testing 240V, 3 phase and low voltage electrical equipment such as microwaves. If the equipment is not safe and causes an accident, both the employer and the person who provided the appliance may be liable.

In addition, AS/NZ 3760 2010 stipulates the requirements a person needs to fulfil to be considered qualified to undertake microwave testing.

Qualified technicians

Grosvenor uses qualified electricians or personnel who have completed competency UEENEEPO26A and UEENEEE101A qualifications. Occupational Health and Safety regulations, codes of practice in the workplace are then applied. Internal competency assessments are also undertaken with all technicians in house before they are allowed to carry out testing in the workplace. Thirty technicians are currently qualified across the country to undertake microwave leakage testing. All of the detectors are also calibrated every 12 months to ensure they produce accurate readings.

Microwave Leakage Detection

5 Tips for using a microwave safely:

1.Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use

These manuals provide important recommendations for operation procedures and safety precautions.

2. Avoid super-heated liquids

Liquids beyond boiling temperature have the ability to violently explode out of their container causing serious skin burns and scalding injuries.

3. Use microwave-safe containers

Glass, ceramic and plastic containers labelled for microwave oven use should be chosen.

4. Don’t use ovens that seem to operate when the door is open

Radiation will be emitted if the door is open.

5. Check for leakage

Door hinges, the latch and seals needed to be reviewed to ensure they are in proper working order.

If not used properly and checked regularly microwaves can cause serious harm. The radiation from microwaves is invisible and alarmingly thousands are failing testing every year. By undertaking annual microwave leakage tests and using qualified technicians the workplace can remain a safe environment for everyone. Get in touch with our Electrical team if you would like to find out more.