Why test & tag? How minimising electrical hazards can reduce risks.

Across the two years from 2014-2016, 1,065 people were hospitalised with an electrical injury. 47% of these people were injured while doing their work.

The best way to prevent people from coming into contact with electrical hazards at work is to make sure you regularly test your equipment and appliances for damage and faults. The AS/NZS 3760 is the Australian Standard that regulates the test and tag industry; it issues guidelines around ensuring electrically safe workplaces.

Stick to the standard

These testing and tagging Australian standards regulate the testing of 240V, 3 phase and low voltage electrical equipment. Regulations centre on the frequency of testing and tagging, inspection, testing specifications, and keeping records. It also includes equipment and appliances bought into workplaces – think battery and laptop chargers. In addition, they clarify who can carry out a test and tag service.

Process of test and tag

There’s a method to verify how safe portable electrical equipment is. First, professionals perform a visual inspection to ensure:

  • No damage, defects or modifications
  • Flexible cords are intact and effectively anchored to equipment, plugs, connectors and cord extension sockets
  • No discolouration or signs of subjection to excessive heat, chemicals or moisture
  • Fully functioning operating controls
  • Stability of protective earth and insulation resistance
  • Viable and unobstructed ventilation inlets and exhausts
  • Effective, woking covers and guards
  • Electrical equipment rating pairs with the rating of the connected plug

Secondly, they test it using a Portable Appliance Tester. The equipment then gets tagged to confirm the assessment. This tag details who performed the test on what date and the date the next test is required.

Look for your local authority

As a legislative condition of Australian workplaces, the standard secures the safety of your workers who come into contact with the appliance. Regulation differs from state to state, and you can find your state control here:

What equipment to test and tag

You don’t need a tag and test if your equipment is new because the responsibility rests with the supplier. However, if your workplace does require testing of new equipment, a ‘New to Service’ tag tells you it hasn’t been tested but will need to be in future.

While mobile phones don’t fall into the WHS responsibility, it’s a good idea to include them in your annual test. Cheap chargers can combust or cause electric shocks, so a test and tag can minimise risk.

Regarding what needs testing, any device with a flexible cable, a removable plug, and doesn’t exceed 50V. This covers extension leads, cord sets and portable residual-current devices. Electrical appliances come in two classes: Class I is an earthed appliance like an iron, kettle or toaster. Class II are double insulated appliances like an electric drill or hairdryer (look out for the square in a square symbol to identify these). On building sites, all power tools need electrical tagging and testing to conform to standards.

When to test and tag

The frequency of testing hinges on the kind of environment the appliance is in and the kind of work it does. Individual workplaces need to determine their testing schedule, but here are some ideas to start.

Every Three Months

  • Testing every three months is needed in the building and construction industry, including demolition contexts
  • All other electrical construction work equipment needs a test and tag every three months

Every Six Months

  • Testing every six months is needed in the industrial and commercial industry: warehouse, factory and production
  • Manufacturing equipment that’s not double insulated needs testing every six months
  • Construction work with transportable structures, transportable and fixed equipment and wiring needs testing every six months

Every Twelve Months

  • Workplaces where electrical equipment is susceptible to wear-and-tear or heavy-duty traffic, as well as flexing, needs annual testing
  • Double insulated equipment used for manufacturing work needs a test and tag every year

Every Five Years

Environments where electrical appliances and cords tend to be flexible

Who can test and tag

The person who tests your equipment and appliances must be ‘competent.’ This means they must have relevant qualifications, experience and training. If in doubt, turn to a Master Electrician who can carry out the tests to the top standard.

Look for the following skills to determine expertise, and have confidence they can:

  • Manage a visual inspection of electrical equipment following AS/NZS 3760
  • Determine the difference between double insulated equipment and protectively earthed equipment, and recognise the suitable test device for each
  • Perform earring continuity tests on electrical equipment as per Appendix A of AS/NZS 3760 while flexing the flexible cable
  • Action insulation resistance tests on electrical equipment as per AS/NZS 3760
  • Execute tests on residual current devices (safety switches) outlined in AS/NZS 3760
  • Understand correct use of relevant testing instruments and decipher results to comply with AS/NZS 3760
  • Recognise how the ES Regulation is relevant to electrical equipment and installations at the workplace

Reduce risk at your workplace: schedule monthly maintenance of your electrical hazards with us. Our rigorous and specialised regime meets the AS/NZS 3760 standards of an electrical test and tag. Keep your employees safe and ensure no risk of electrical hazard or shock. For highly competent expertise, call our qualified electrical team today.