Electrical Compliance Testing

PAT testing | Portable Appliance Testing

Compliance Testing

Electrical compliance testing is one of many compliance requirements for Australian businesses. Put simply, it’s the testing of electrical appliances to ensure that they conform to accepted Australian safety standards.

Electrical Compliance

Making sure your workplace is OHS/WHS compliant is an important responsibility for all business owners as it safeguards your business and protects those who work and visit the premises. The most common form of electrical compliance testing is known as ‘testing and tagging’.

What is electrical testing and tagging?

Electrical testing and tagging is the testing process for portable electrical appliances. It is conducted to ensure the safety of all those who may use that appliance, minimising the risk of electrical hazards and accidents involving faulty electrical equipment. Testing and tagging is an important process to incorporate into your business’s safety procedures as it protects your staff and customers and also ensures that your business is compliant with Australian safety standards. The safety standards also outline who can test and tag and how frequently the process needs to occur.

What is involved in testing and tagging?

Testing and tagging is a very straightforward process conducted by a qualified technician.

When the technician visits your premises to test and tag, they will inspect each piece of portable electrical equipment to ensure it is in safe, working order. This includes all types of equipment from drills to refrigerators, microwaves, computers and ovens. It is recommended that all pieces of equipment used on the site are tested, even those that are not owned by the business. If for example someone brings their own kettle into the office, it should be tested and tagged when the technician visits.

Who can test and tag electrical equipment

The technician first assesses the item for any signs of visible damage and then uses a portable appliance tester (or PAT tester) to perform electrical testing. If it passes the test and is deemed safe, it is tagged by the tester (hence the name – ‘test and tag’) with a label which is easily visible and records the date and results of the test, the name of the tester and the due date of the next test. If the item fails the test, it is noted on a failed items report.

The length of time it takes to test and tag your business depends on the size of the business and the number of electrical appliances, but it is a quick process to test each item which involves minimal disruption.

Where possible, it is recommended that you engage a supplier to perform the testing and tagging of your equipment on a regular basis so that there is a record of your business’s compliance with safety standards. This is important from a compliance perspective but can also help with insurance.

It’s also helpful to identify patterns arising in your business. If for example, electrical items keep failing in a particular area of your business, there may be a deeper electrical issue which would warrant investigation.

Do I need testing and tagging in my business?

For some businesses, there is a legislative requirement that testing and tagging is conducted on a regular basis. For example, it is mandatory that electrical equipment used in the construction, demolition and mining industries is tested and certified every three months. This is because these industries are considered ‘hostile operating environments’ where it is easy for a piece of equipment to get damaged.

However, even if it isn’t mandatory for your business to conduct regular electrical appliance testing, you have a duty of care as a business owner to your staff and customers and you may be liable for not providing a safe environment if someone is injured because of a faulty electrical appliance. It is your responsibility to ensure that all equipment on your premises in in safe working order. Testing and tagging is a small investment for peace of mind!

What equipment needs to be tested and tagged?  

All portable electrical appliances need to be tested and tagged. This means any device that has a flexible cable, a removable plug and whose voltage exceeds 50V. It covers a range of appliances that people would immediately think of – everything from computers to kettles, to refrigerators and electric drills. But importantly, it also includes extension leads, power cord sets and portable residual current devices (RCDs).

Electrical appliances fall into two classes and appliances in both classes are required to be checked. Class I appliances are earthed appliances like kettles, microwaves and toasters. Class II appliances are double insulated appliances like drills and hairdryers. They are easily identifiable with a symbol (a square within a square) generally found on the appliance cord.

All equipment used on the premises should be tested if it meets these criteria. If an item isn’t on site when the technician visits, it should be separately tested and tagged before it can be used in the business.

It doesn’t matter whether electrical appliances are new or second-hand – they still need to be tested. At the conclusion of testing, your technician should supply you with a failed items list and an asset list which shows all items that were tested and their status (pass/fail).

Why are there different colour tags?

Coloured tags help you and the technician easily identify if an appliance’s tag is current. This is especially important in the industries where testing and tagging is mandated. In those industries a different coloured tag will be used depending on the time of year, so it is easy to see if an item is up to date in its compliance. You must know about test and tag colours that will be helpful for you.

What is Fault Loop testing?

A fault loop impedance test (also known as an Earth Safety test) is the testing of all your electrical installations and power points to see if there are any faults within your electrical circuit. It’s an important process to ensure that the electrical wiring in your business is as safe as possible. As a business owner it is your responsibility to ensure that you are providing a safe environment. An impedance test can generally be booked to happen at the same time as a technician visits your premises to conduct testing and tagging.

Who can test and tag?

The Australian standards govern who can test and tag – it’s not something just anyone can do. When looking for a supplier who can test and tag your equipment, make sure that they are qualified to conduct test and tagging and that their process meets the standards outlined by Australian Standard AS/NZS 3760. It is a good idea to develop a long-term relationship with your test and tag supplier so that they can keep records on your behalf and also identify patterns within your business – such as if appliances in a particular room are failing more regularly than in other areas of the business.

Jim’s Test & Tag offers electrical compliance testing services across Australia. Phone 13 15 46 to speak to your local Jim’s Test & Tag franchisee about what options are available for your workplace and whether any other testing is possible or necessary. It could be worthwhile also considering fire protection testing, formally checking first aid equipment and testing of your emergency exit lighting.

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