Testing and Tagging

By Daley Raffin

Electricity is one of the most important power sources that we all use every day. But if it’s not properly managed it can cause serious injury and death. Test and tag is the process of checking electrical appliances for safety through a series of visual inspections and functional tests. All items should be labelled and logged in an electrical appliances report.

In our industry, testing and tagging electrical equipment is an important and crucial job which should not be underestimated. Faulty electronics, equipment, and wiring can put people at risk of electrocution, electrical burns, or injuries due to fire. Frequent handling of equipment can lead to damaged and unsafe equipment in our homes/workplaces.

Test and tag is a vital way to maintain the integrity of your electrical appliances – ensuring that your home/workplace is safe for all its occupants and visitors. If an accident does occur, there may even be less risk of prosecution if you are able to show that you regularly engage in test and tag services that comply with Australian safety standards.

You can detect many electrical defects such as damaged cords just by examining them, but regular inspection and testing will make sure you detect electrical faults and deterioration you can’t see.

Inspections and testing must be carried out by a competent person, which depending on your jurisdiction might be a licensed or registered electrician or a licensed electrical inspector.

What Is Testing And Tagging?

If you plug it in, it gets tested and tagged.

That’s a broad rule-of-thumb you can use as a starting point for any test and tag.

We are talking about extension leads, computers, power tools, heaters, floor polishers, lamps, battery chargers, laminators, flood lights and more, the range of appliances is wide and varied.

Some appliances, such as plug-in adaptors and portable safety switches, do not have a flexible supply lead but are still required to be tested and tagged.

Appliances that are in a fixed location are also included i.e. those bolted to a work bench or floor but have a flexible supply lead and connect to the supply via a powerpoint.

Testing and tagging is an electrical service provided to ensure your electrical appliances are safe to use.  Test and Tag involves carefully visually inspecting each appliance for damage to flex cable, connections, guards, covers and plug by a competent technician. Once the technician is assured the item is safe to electrically inspect, the item’s insulation, earthing and polarity may be tested with a Portable Appliance Tester to ensure it is electrically safe.

Once tested, the item is placed with a tag to confirm that it has in fact been tested, along with showing who tested it, the test date and when the next test is due.

The primary reason behind doing testing and tagging is to ensure the safety of the people in your home/workplace coming into contact with the appliance, while also minimising the risk of an electrical hazard.

Portable appliances such as power tools and kettles are items that are most frequently handled by people, they are also the most open to abuse and hostile environmental conditions – which can cause them to become electrically unsafe. Under most state and territory regulations, these appliances in hostile operating environments must be tested and tagged on a regular basis to ensure their safe operation.

Why Do I Need To Test And Tag My Equipment?

By regularly completing tests and tags, it overall minimises the risk of electrical shock to family/workers.  Under Queensland legislation, if you’re an employer, you must comply with workplace health and safety guidelines.  This means ensuring all of your electrical equipment is in a safe working condition.  Unfortunately, electrical equipment can wear and tear with time.  Testing and Tagging is part of systemic safety planning for your business.

Testing and tagging on a regular basis ensures workplace electrical compliance with Workplace Health and Safety legislation.  This substantiates your duty of care.

If you do not comply with the electrical specification, you risk your company being found negligible and liable completely for a workplace accident. Your insurance may refuse your claim or potentially cancel your account.  This may influence future insurers covering your company or incur increased account coverage expenses.  Your company may also be fined, penalised or if the accident was severe, face possible Imprisonment.

Who needs to test and tag?

Industries such as construction, demolition and mining are required to have their appliances tested and tagged every 3 months. This is because of the harsh nature of the industry which is likely to damage equipment at a faster rate. With the exception of these industries, testing and tagging is not a legislative requirement for other workplaces. However, the employer does have a duty of care to ensure the safety of its employees, meaning that if someone was hurt from an appliance that wasn’t tested and unsafe, they could be found liable. Because of this, it’s the employer’s responsibility to have all portable electrical appliances tested.

 

Equipment testing is not only recommended, but it’s the law. Without testing, you can leave yourself open to risks and dangers of safety violations, injuries, and in the worst cases, death. It’s important to be informed on the risks, responsibilities, and preventative measures one can take to avoid such occurrences.

According to Safe Work Australia, these are some of the most common risks associated with electricity when there is a lack of proper testing, and they are as follows:

 

  • Electric shock causing injury or death.
  • Arcing, explosion or fire causing burns. The injuries are often suffered because arcing or explosion or both occur when high fault currents are present
  • Electric shock from ‘step-and-touch’ potentials
  • Toxic gases causing illness or death. Burning and arcing associated with electrical equipment may release various gases and contaminants
  • Fire resulting from an electrical fault.

The most effective way to prevent injury and death, and ensure a safe environment is through proper testing and tagging with a reliable service provider. Testing and tagging your appliances will not only protect the welfare and safety of those around you, but also from any safety threats that accompany failing to comply with the test and tag guidelines of WHS.

Testing and Tagging – Protects the Employer in the Event of an Accident

When working around portable electrical equipment, there is always a risk that an accident could happen. Employers need to take every precaution necessary to make sure they are protected, if a legal manner, should an accident occur.

Testing and tagging services can help provide employers with a certain level of protection should an accident occur in the workplace. These services show that an employer took the necessary precautions to make the workplace as safe as possible by having the equipment inspected on a regular basis.

Employers that use regular testing and tagging services comply with the safety standards for Australia. In the event an accident should occur and the employer can show compliance with these safety standards, he or she may be able to avoid hefty fines or even imprisonment; both of which are consequences of breaching safety regulations set by a state or territory.

New or Old – All Electrical Appliances Must Be Tested

We regularly remind folks to take great care with regards to electrical equipment, regardless of whether it is brand new or years old.

What’s more, for folks that have moved into a new premises, or for those that have recently undertaken a position as site or facilities manager in a company and recognise that the tags on the electrical equipment are overdue for testing, or if the tags are hand-written, you should take immediate action.

Regular compliance checks and electrical maintenance can also help reduce the risk of injury to any employees, residents and visitors or reduce the need for costly emergency and after-hours repairs.

Compliance checks & electrical maintenance services include:

  • testing and tagging of all electrical appliances
  • testing of residual current devices (RCDs) – every 6 months and 2 years
  • testing of emergency and exit lighting
  • installation and maintenance of smoke alarms
  • lighting lux audits as per the Australian building code requirements
  • switchboard thermal scanning
  • temperature auditing of fridges, freezers, ovens and dishwashers
  • inspecting and repairing automatic opening gates and doors – required every 4 months.

Emergency And Exit Light Testing

Emergency and Exit lighting is required in the unfortunate circumstance where power could be cut to the location during an emergency or a power failure. The Emergency lights illuminate allowing a safe and visible passage to the nearest exit.

Raffin Electrical has fully trained & licensed Emergency and Exit Lighting technicians throughout Queensland and the South Burnett that are fully competent in all aspects of Emergency and Exit Light Testing.

Raffin Electrical are experts when it comes to emergency and exit light testing, system maintenance and compliance. We can set up a schedule that will keep your system operational, protecting your business and fulfilling the legal requirements.

Standard AS/NZS 2293.2 states, “that the emergency lighting installation should be tested at six-monthly intervals by a discharge test to see that the fittings operate for the required duration of not less than 90 minutes.”

Raffin Electrical follows these standards whilst carrying out maintenance and checking. The process used is as follows:

  • Prior to testing, our technicians visually inspect all emergency lights for darkened signs of aging or damage and replace where necessary.
  • We then simulate a power failure by performing a discharge test for a period of 90 minutes. After this test the lights are then reinstated to their normal operating condition.
  • All lights discharge test results, lamp replacements, repairs to be carried out and correct operation of the system will be recorded and a copy kept on site.

“Safety Switch” (RCD) Testing

RCD testing is the process of safely “tripping” your RCD to ensure it will operate quickly should there be an electrical incident. This is also known as safety switch testing. Your RCD is designed to trip, or switch off all the power to that circuit. Australian standards detail the maximum “trip times” for various RCD’s and the competent technician testing your RCD will be able to determine whether your RCD is tripping quickly enough. The quicker a RCD trips, the smaller the electric shock sustained by an individual.

Push button testing of your RCD is also required under Australian Standards on a 6 monthly basis. This can be completed by the technician you are engaging to complete electrical safety services.

Does a “Safety Switch” (RCD)  need regular test and tagging?

Yes. Your RCD needs to be tested and tagged in accordance with AS/NZS 3760:2010 to ensure that it will respond in a fault situation, and that it will also respond within the required time frame. Should it not trip in the required time, a fatal and extensive electric shock may be delivered.

Additionally, WHS Regulations state all businesses must have a RCD protecting all hostile circuits, and that the RCDs must be tested in accordance with AS/NZS 3760:2010.

Raffin Electrical will inspect, test and tag your RCDs to ensure that they comply with the standard and save lives in an emergency situation.

You can even bring your electrical items to us for testing and tagging with a fast turn around. To schedule an appointment with one of our technicians to come provide test and tag services. Please call us at Raffin Electrical on 4168 5518 to make an appointment.