When it comes to electrical safety it’s not a great idea to DIY, even if it seems tempting.
Testing and tagging is the process of inspecting and tagging portable electrical appliances to ensure that they are all in safe, working order.
It involves visually checking an appliance and then electrically testing the device with a portable appliance tester. It’s a recommended safety procedure for all businesses and is mandated for businesses in some industries.
Here are some frequently asked questions about test and tag services.
Can I do my own electrical testing and tagging?
No. You can’t do your own electrical testing and tagging unless you are qualified to do testing and tagging under the Australian safety standard AS NZS 3760.
Who can test and tag?
The Australian safety standard stipulates that testing and tagging can only be carried out by someone who has the practical and theoretical skills to conduct the testing obtained through training, qualifications, experience or a combination of these.
In some states you don’t need to be a registered or licenced electrical practitioner in order to be qualified to conduct testing and tagging – but you do need to meet the requirements outlined by the standard.
There are many companies such as Jim’s Test & Tag who offer testing and tagging services so there’s no need to consider doing it yourself. The franchisees at Jim’s Test & Tag are skilled professionals who undergo regular training and have also completed a Test and Tag Certificate of Attainment. Their comprehensive training is ongoing to ensure that they are always up to date with the latest advances in testing and testing equipment.
Can I avoid testing and tagging by doing my own visual inspections?
No. The test and tag process covers both the visual inspection and the electrical testing. Although 90% of defective appliances can be identified through a visual inspection, there are types of damage that a test and tag technician will check for which can’t be seen by someone who isn’t trained under the standard. And visually inspecting a device isn’t a substitute for the electrical testing carried out by the test and tag technician using the portable appliance tester.
Your test and tag technician can also conduct other electrical safety tests at the same time including RCD or safety switch testing and an earth safety check. They can also test any microwaves you have on the premises for radiation leakage. Most microwaves used in businesses (in the staff kitchen for example) were designed for domestic use and are used far more frequently than originally intended. So, it’s important to regularly check them, with both testing and tagging and leakage testing.
What if I have appliances that I can already see are faulty?
If you have a device that you suspect might be faulty, stop using the appliance immediately and organise for it to be tested and tagged before you use it again. Chances are that it won’t pass the test. If an appliance has visible damage such as exposed wires, then dispose of it immediately as it isn’t safe to use.
What appliances in my business need to be tested?
Testing and tagging is used for portable electrical devices that have a flexible cord, a removable plug and whose voltage exceeds 50V. This includes appliances used while doing business (such as computers, drills and hairdryers) as well as other ancillary appliances used around the premises such as coffee machines and refrigerators.
Make sure that you also test any appliances not owned by the business which are operated on the premises. For example, in an aged care home, any appliances such as radios and kettles owned by the residents need to be tested and tagged to ensure the safety of everyone working in, living at and visiting the home.
What if my appliances are new — should they be tested?
New appliances should be tested and tagged as soon as possible. We’ve all had experiences where a new appliance hasn’t worked properly. In the case of electrical appliances, you may not be aware of any hidden defects.
What if I use hired equipment in my business?
There are specific regulations governing the electrical safety of hire equipment. These are outlined in the safety standard AS NZS 3760. A hire company must visually inspect each appliance every time it is hired to check that there are no obvious signs of damage. And hired equipment should be tested every three months. If you have hire equipment on site for longer than that period, check with your hire company about regular testing or ask your test and tag technician when they visit your premises.
What are my obligations?
If you operate in the demolition, construction or mining industries then it is mandated that all appliances are tested every three months and there are significant penalties for not complying with this instruction. Not complying with this regulation contravenes your OHS/WHS obligations to conduct a safe workplace. This is because workplaces in these industries are defined as ‘hostile operating environments’ which means that portable appliances could be easily damaged during the normal course of work. Just think about the type of work that happens on a construction site and you can see how portable appliances such as electric drills could be easily damaged.
In other industries, it’s not legislated that you must conduct testing and tagging of your electrical appliances. However, if you are a business owner, you are viewed as the legally responsible person for the business. Part of your duty of care and your business responsibilities involves ensuring that you provide a safe workplace for your staff and those that visit your business. Electrical safety should be an important part of your business’s safety protocols.
Testing and tagging is a relatively inexpensive way of ensuring that you are meeting your safety obligations and protecting everyone in your business.
How often do the appliances in my business need to be tested?
Always check with your test and tag technician who will be able to advise you about your business taking into account the industry you operate in, the type of environment your business is (hostile versus non-hostile) and the types of appliances that you use.
However, for most businesses, the majority of appliances used in the business will need to be tested every six months. There are exceptions to this and the test and tag company you employ to do your testing can talk you through those exceptions.
Is testing and tagging the only safety testing I need in my business?
No. Testing and tagging is only one safety procedure you should have in place within your business. In addition to testing and tagging, you should also consider the additional electrical safety checks including RCD or safety switch testing and an earth safety check. In addition, all businesses must have fire protection measures in place and this equipment needs to be tested regularly. You should also have first aid equipment on site. Jim’s Test & Tag can help you with all of these safety measures, conducting all tests for you on site and also supplying equipment such as first aid kits and fire protection equipment. Phone 13 15 46 for more information.