Guidelines

Electrasafe Test-and-Tag - Guidelines

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1. Purpose and Objectives

This guideline describes the methods used to meet the objectives of the Electrical Safety Policy as it relates to testing and tagging of specified electrical equipment and testing of residual current devices.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Act - Electrical Safety Act 2002

Competent Person - Qualified persons who have either (a) an electrical work licence, or (b) have completed the appropriate electrical inspection and testing course "Conduct In-service Safety Testing of electrical cord connected equipment (UEENEEP026)" via a Queensland Registered Training Organisation, and hold a current certificate of competency.

Double Insulated - Class II equipment (double insulated equipment). Equipment in which protection against electric shock does not rely on basic insulation only, but in which an extra layer of insulation (called 'supplementary insulation') is provided to give double insulation, there being no provision for protective earthing or reliance upon installation conditions. This equipment is generally manufactured with a non-conductive (insulated) enclosure, and is marked either with the words ‘DOUBLE INSULATED’ or with a symbol to allow easy identification.

Hostile environment - An environment where the electrical equipment and its wiring could be subject to events or operating conditions which may result in damage or a reduction in its expected lifespan. For example exposure to moisture, heat, vibration, corrosive chemicals, dust or physical stress such as stretching and abrasions.

Multi-outlet power board - A portable electrical device consisting of a series of outlets attached to a cord with a plug on one end.

RCM Mark - The Regulatory Compliance Mark or RCM is a symbol utilised to show regulatory compliance under the defining standard (AS/NZS 4417.1:2012 Regulatory compliance mark for electrical and electronic equipment – Use of the mark).

Regulation - Electrical Safety Regulation 2013

Residual Current Device (RCD) - A mechanical switching safety device that is designed to isolate the circuit when the current detects earth leakage under specified conditions. Can be portable or fixed (electrical switchboard).

Safety Switch - Residual Current Device (RCD)

Specified Electrical Equipment - The criteria for specified electrical equipment is defined under the Electrical Safety Regulation 2013, and is separated into six categories (formerly ‘classes of work’) according to how the equipment is being used. This includes extension leads, powerboards and items of electrical equipment that have a current rating of not more than 20amps AND are connected by a flexible cord and plug to low voltage supply (greater than 50V but less than 1000V AC). For office work or service work, the equipment must also be moved during its normal use, for the purpose of its use.

Test and Tag - The process of a certified, competent person testing electrical equipment to detect damage, wear or other conditions that may make it unsafe. The item is tagged with an inspection tag (including retest date) if it complies with the test specifications, or tagged out of service if defects are detected.

3. Guidelines Scope/Coverage

The University is responsible for ensuring the safety and integrity of electrical equipment.

All electrical equipment must be used safely, maintained in good working order and regularly inspected for faults or damage.

Certain electrical equipment is defined in the legislation as 'specified electrical equipment'. Such items have additional electrical safety requirements, including a combination of inspections, testing and tagging, and connection to RCD. The frequency of testing required for specified electrical equipment relates to its operating environment.

4. Guidelines Statement

The purpose of this guideline is to

  • define categories of work environments and specified electrical equipment
  • specify the requirements for inspection, testing-and-tagging of electrical equipment
  • clarify the requirements for use and testing of residual current devices
  • specify UQ rules related to use of multi-outlet powerboards and extension leads
  • provide guidance on requirements for new and imported electrical equipment.

5. Responsibilities

Staff at all levels within The University of Queensland have specific responsibilities for ensuring occupational health and safety. These responsibilities are principally based on the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and related legislation. The OHS responsibilities of staff are dependent on their role within the University and are outlined in PPL 2.10.04 Staff Responsibilities for Occupational Health and Safety.

Specific responsibilities related to this guideline are outlined below.

5.1 Heads of Organisational Units

  • Ensure that adequate resources have been allocated for carrying out inspection, testing and tagging of specified electrical equipment and portable residual current devices.
  • Ensure that effective systems are in place for rectification or safe disposal of equipment that fails inspection and testing.
  • Ensure that effective systems are in place for the provision of relevant information, training and supervision.
  • Ensure that appropriate electrical safety and equipment inspection records are maintained.

5.2 Supervisors

  • Ensure inspection, testing and tagging of specified electrical equipment and testing of portable residual current devices is conducted in accordance with these procedures.
  • Ensure rectification or safe disposal of equipment that fails inspection and testing.
  • Ensure newly purchased electrical equipment complies with Australian regulatory requirements.
  • Add newly purchased specified electrical equipment to test-and-tag list, to ensure they are included in next inspection round.
  • Investigate reported faults and damage to electrical equipment, and ensure appropriate corrective action is taken to resolve.

5.3 Staff and Postgraduate Students

  • Participate in safety induction and training, as instructed by the supervisor.
  • Complete a visual inspection of items of electrical equipment prior to use, to verify that the test-tag is in date and flexible power lead is not damaged.
  • Perform a push button test of portable RCDs before each use where a portable RCD unit is in use.
  • Where RCD devices are provided in medical installations (body protected areas), carry out a push-button test before each use.
  • Report faults and damage of electrical equipment to Supervisor.

5.4 OHS and P&F Division

  • Ensure a program is in place for carrying out inspection and testing of fixed residual current devices, in accordance with requirements.
  • Provide advice and guidance on interpretation of relevant legislation, Australian Standards and University requirements.
  • Develop UQ specific electrical safety procedures and guidelines.
  • Update OHS guidance material in accordance with legislative changes and technological developments.

6. Who can perform testing and tagging of specified electrical equipment?

Testing and tagging of specified electrical equipment must be carried out by a competent person. This could be a University staff member who has completed the approved training program, or an approved contractor - refer to P&F Division's list of approved contractors.

7. UQ Work Environment Categories

At the University of Queensland, the requirement for inspection, testing and tagging of specified electrical equipment is based upon the type of equipment, the operating environment, and the task being undertaken.

The following categories set out the typical work environments at UQ, and the test and tag requirements for specified electrical equipment in those environments. If your work doesn't fall into one of the below categories, a risk assessment will have to be conducted to determine the appropriate testing and tagging requirements for your equipment (refer Section 8).

7.1 Construction

Construction work environments - Includes sites where building work, civil construction work or demolition work are occurring. At the University, all building construction and maintenance work is completed by Property and Facilities. Examples at the University include repairing plant, building a retaining wall, refurbishment work.

Testing and tagging of all electrical equipment within construction environments at the University is managed by the P&F Division in accordance with the relevant Australian standard AS/NZS 3012:2010 Electrical installations - Construction and demolition sites.

7.2 Manufacturing and hostile environments

Manufacturing and hostile work environments - A workplace where assembly, fabrication, installation, manufacturing or repair work is undertaken and/or where the electrical equipment and its wiring could be subject to events or operating conditions which may result in damage or a reduction in its expected lifespan.

Examples within the University include workshops and research laboratories where electrical equipment is potentially exposed to mechanical or chemical damage.

Within manufacturing and hostile work environments specified electrical equipment includes

  • extension leads,
  • power boards, and
  • electrical equipment with a flexible cord and plug.

Specified electrical equipment in a manufacturing or hostile work environment must be protected by a fixed RCD and tested and tagged by a competent person to the following schedule:

  • on an annual basis if it is double insulated, or
  • on a 6 monthly basis if it is not double insulated.

7.3 Service work

Service work environment - Includes workplaces with the following work activities: cleaning, sales and marketing, providing health services, teaching at an education facility and meal preparation including kitchenettes/tea rooms.

Examples within the University include undergraduate teaching laboratories, non-hostile research laboratories, commercial kitchens, computer laboratories, public areas in libraries, lecture theatres, teaching spaces and childcare centres.

Within service work environments, specified electrical equipment includes:

  • extension leads,
  • power boards, and
  • electrical equipment that has a flexible cord and plug and is moved during its normal use for the purpose of its use.

At UQ specified electrical equipment in a service work environment must be tested and tagged by a competent person:

  • annually

7.4 Office work

Office work environment - includes offices and meeting rooms.

Within office work environments, specified electrical equipment includes:

  • extension leads,
  • power boards, and
  • electrical equipment that has a flexible cord and plug and is moved during its normal use for the purpose of its use.

At UQ specified electrical equipment in office environments must be tested and tagged by a competent person:

  • annually for extension leads and power boards, and
  • every 5 years for all other items of specified electrical equipment.

7.5 Amusement work and devices

Amusement work and devices - includes amusement rides and devices such as jumping castles, bumper cars and carousels.

Examples in the University environment include contractors who supply and operate amusement rides for events such as open day and orientation functions.

All amusement devices must be protected by RCD and tested and tagged by a competent person:

  • each time it is assembled on the site where it is intended to be used.

7.6 Rural industry work

Rural work environments - includes cultivation of agricultural crops, rearing of farm animals and aquaculture. Examples in the University environment include the dairy, piggery, cropping fields and paddocks.

Within rural work environments, specified electrical equipment includes:

  • extension leads,
  • power boards, and
  • electrical equipment with a flexible cord and plug.

Specified electrical equipment in a rural work environment must be protected by RCD and tested and tagged by a competent person:

  • on an annual basis if it is double insulated, or
  • on a 6 monthly basis if it is not double insulated.

8. Equipment Specific Requirements

8.1 Electrical medical equipment

Electrical Medical Equipment - includes specialised equipment used for patient care in clinics and medical environments. Examples include ECG (electric cardio graph), dentistry, patient monitoring equipment.

There are additional test requirements mandated for electrical equipment used in diagnostics and patient treatment or therapy. The test regime for such equipment is much more rigorous than for other items with additional tests being prescribed.

Details of these additional requirements are set out in:

  • AS3003.2011 Electrical installations - Patient treatment areas of hospitals and medical and dental practices therapy.

8.2 New electrical equipment

Newly purchased equipment does not have to be tested-and-tagged upon receipt, however, does have to be visually inspected prior to use to verify that:

New equipment must subsequently be included in the regime of testing and tagging as per other specified electrical equipment. This will ensure it is protected according to the type of work for which it is used and captured with the next round of testing and tagging.

Electrical equipment is also subject to electrical safety considerations as part of the UQ procurement procedure PPL 9.40.01 Purchasing.

8.3 Imported equipment

Equipment imported directly from an overseas location not fitted with the RCM symbol must be inspected and a report of compliance prepared by a qualified electrician.

In all cases, imported equipment must be inspected, tested and tagged by a competent person before use.

A copy of the compliance report must be kept by the owner of the plant, and available for audit by the Director OHS Division.

8.4 Privately owned equipment

Staff are encouraged not to bring personal electrical equipment to work. However, in the event that privately owned electrical equipment is used in the workplace it must be inspected, tested and tagged to ensure its suitability for use with the frequency of testing and tagging being determined by the environment which it is being used.

8.5 Hire equipment

Hire electrical equipment - equipment that is either hired in from, or hired out to, non-UQ entities.

Hire electrical equipment must be tested and tagged by a competent person,

  • on a 6 monthly basis,

AND

  • must be inspected and tested by a competent person before each hiring, or
  • has a RCD that can not be disconnected, deactivated or removed during the item’s operation.

8.6 Insulation testing

Reference should be made to AS/NZ 3000:2007 section 8.3.6.2 for further information on testing of sheathed heating elements used in laboratory furnaces and ovens.

Some electronic equipment is sensitive to high voltage used in insulation testing. Equipment that is susceptible to damage from exposure to a 500V DC test voltage can, under AS/NZ 3760:2010 Appendix E Insulation Testing, be tested at 250V DC. This contributes to a reduction in unnecessary expensive equipment repairs and downtime caused by incorrectly applied test and tag procedures.

8.7 University Mine

The Department of Natural Resources and Mines has additional testing requirements for workplaces defined as mines.

9. Risk Assessment

If there is uncertainty in relation to which category of work environment a particular workplace falls into, a risk assessment must be completed to determine the required inspection, testing and tagging regime to protect workers from electrical harm.

The level of protection required for the item depends on the level of risk.

For example, electrical equipment used in a hostile environment in which normal use exposes it to operating conditions that are likely to result in damage or a reduction in its expected life span requires greater safety controls than the same item of equipment in a non-hostile environment.

The level of protection required for the item depends on the outcome of the risk assessment.

i.e. Higher risk environment = greater level of controls (protection for users) required.

Assistance can be sought from your local Safety Manager / Coordinator (WHSC).

Risk assessments must be documented in the UQ Risk Management database.

10. Residual Current Device

Residual current devices monitor the imbalance between input and output currents, and operate when the imbalance exceeds a certain small value. This action disconnects power from the faulty equipment, and limits exposure to dangerous levels of electrical current. RCD are an important form of protection, but do not eliminate the need for regular inspection, testing and tagging.

10.1 Portable RCDs

10.1.1 Push button testing

Push button testing of portable RCDs should be carried out by equipment operators:

  • Office work - every 3 months
  • Service work (excluding commercial cleaning) - every 3 months
  • Commercial cleaning - before each use, or daily (whichever is the longer)
  • Construction, manufacturing and amusement work - before each use, or daily (whichever is the longer)
  • Rural industry work - every 3 months

10.1.2 Time and current testing

Time/Current testing of portable RCDs is required to be carried out by an appropriately qualified, competent person:

  • Office work - every 2 years
  • Service work (excluding commercial cleaning) - every 2 years
  • Commercial cleaning - every 6 months
  • Construction, manufacturing, rural industry and amusement work - every 12 months

10.2 Fixed RCDs

Fixed RCDs are tested by UQ P&F Division at prescribed intervals.

Only qualified, licenced electricians can carry out testing of fixed RCDs.

  • Push button testing - every 6 months
  • Time and current testing - every 12 months

Access to switchboards is restricted to authorised and licensed P&F electricians.

11. UQ Rules for Multi-outlet Powerboards and Extension Leads

  • Double adaptors and piggyback plugs must not be used.
  • Multi-outlet powerboards:
    • All outlets must be individually switched.
    • The board must have a 10 amp overload circuit breaker incorporated.
    • Powerboards must not be daisy chained.
    • Double pole self switching type outlets that are switched on only when the power plug is inserted are acceptable where used for modular furniture (commonly seen on soft wiring systems associated with modular furniture).
  • Extension leads:
    • Extension leads may be used for temporary applications only. For longer term applications a fixed electrical installation must be commissioned through P&F.
    • They must not be of excessive length for the purpose (avoid coiling cable).
    • They must be of adequate current rating.
    • They must be positioned such that they are protected against mechanical damage and do not create a trip hazard to persons entering/using/in the area.

12. References

  • Electrical Safety Act 2002
  • Electrical Safety Regulation 2013
  • AS/NZS 3000:2007 : Electrical installations
  • AS/NZS 3003:2011 : Electrical installations - Patient areas
  • AS/NZS 3012:2010 : Electrical installations - Construction and demolition sites
  • AS/NZS 3551:2012 : Management programs for medical equipment
  • AS/NZS 3760:2010 : In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment
  • AS/NZS 4417.1:2012 : Regulatory compliance mark for electrical and electronic equipment – Use of the mark
  • AS/NZS 4513:1995 : Medical electrical equipment - Fundamental aspects of safety Standards

13. Appendix 1

Custodians
Director, Occupational Health and Safety
Mr Jim Carmichael
Director, Property and Facilities
Mr Alan Egan
Custodians
Director, Occupational Health and Safety
Mr Jim Carmichael
Director, Property and Facilities
Mr Alan Egan