How does test and tag work?

Testing & Tagging

Testing and tagging of portable electrical appliances should be an important part of the safety procedures in your workplace, as it helps ensure that your workplace is a safe electrical environment. But what is testing and tagging and how does it work?

Portable electrical appliances such as laptops, drills, hairdryers and vacuum cleaners are found in every workplace. Sometimes, these are appliances that are used in the normal course of work (such as hairdryers in a hair salon) but they can also be appliances used for other purposes such as toasters used in an office kitchen.

It’s important these appliances are tested regularly to ensure that they are safe to use. Testing and tagging is the process outlined in the Australian/New Zealand standard AS NZS 3760.2010 for testing these appliances.

What does testing and tagging involve?

Testing and tagging needs to be performed by a qualified technician. In most states, this needs to be someone who has been trained in how to test and tag appliances, but it doesn’t need to be an electrician. Queensland is one exception where a test and tag technician also needs to be a licenced electrician. If you’re unsure, check the legislation in your state.

There are many companies around Australia that perform testing and tagging including Jim’s Test & Tag which has over 150 franchises around Australia. The technicians at Jim’s Test & Tag have all been trained in the process and have been required to complete a Test and Tag Certificate of Attainment before they can conduct testing and tagging.

Generally, the technician will visit your workplace and test all the appliances on site in one visit. However, there are also technicians who will perform testing and tagging of appliances at their premises. This service is generally only used if you have a small number (1 or 2) appliances that need testing — an example would be if you bought a second-hand laptop which should be tested before it is used in the business.

What is involved in the test and tag process?

There are two main parts to the test and tag process. The first part is a visual test where the test and tag technician will inspect the appliance for any visible damage. Visible damage can include things like damaged plugs, frayed cords or discoloured plastic which indicates that the appliance is aged (and possibly the wiring is too!). Most appliances that fail the testing and tagging fail on the visible damage test.

The second part of the testing process is electrical testing using a portable appliance or (PAT) tester. This tester indicates where the electrical circuits within the appliance are working safely or not.

Once the appliance has been tested, it is tagged (hence the name ‘test and tag’) with a tag which records when the appliance was tested, who tested it, the status of the test and when the next test is due. If an appliance fails the test, it will be tagged to say that it failed the test and is out of service. Some items can be repaired, but others will need to be disposed of. An item with an out of service tag poses an electrical hazard in the workplace and should never be used.

PAT Testing

Do I need to test new appliances?

You don’t need to test new appliances as the Australian standard puts the onus for the safety of new appliances on the manufacturer. However, if you buy a second-hand appliance (e.g. a kettle) then it should be tested and tagged before you use it.

Is testing and tagging compulsory?

Testing and tagging is mandated for some industries such as construction, mining, demolition and is also compulsory for businesses that hire out equipment. It is good safety practice for all businesses and is an important part of workplace safety.

If you don’t test and tag your appliances, you’re putting the safety of your staff and customers at risk. As the business owner you’re viewed by the law the person responsible for electrical safety, so if there’s an electrical accident in your workplace you could be liable if you haven’t taken adequate measures to ensure that appliances in your workplace are safe to use.

How long does it take to test and tag?

Testing and tagging only takes a couple of minutes per appliance so it depends on the size of your workplace and how many appliances are required to be tested. Test and tag can be charged by the number of appliances tagged or by the time taken on site. If the supplier you choose charges by the hour, make sure you’re well prepared for their visit with all appliances out and ready to be tested so you don’t waste money waiting for people to find appliances that aren’t used regularly.

How often do I need to get appliances tested and tagged?

That depends on your industry and the types of appliances you have in your workplace. Talk to your test and tag technician about your requirements. Jim’s Test and Tag can advise how long the service will take, what’s involved and how often your business needs to be tested.

Test and Tag Tool

Which appliances need to be tested?

All portable appliances with a flexible cord, a removable plug and a voltage in excess of 50V should be tested. It doesn’t matter if the appliance is used for running the business (such as a cash register) or just in the business for the staff (such as a kettle in the staff room), both need to be tested.

Appliances used on the business premises but owned by someone else (for example a staff member) also needs to be tested. So, if you have a temporary contractor using their own laptop but working regularly in your office, it would be good practice to ask them to have their laptop tested and tagged as part of your onboarding process.

What other electrical testing services should I consider for my workplace?

Testing and tagging is only one type of electrical testing. Getting testing and tagging done in your workplace helps to ensure a safe electrical environment, but there are also other tests to consider such as:

Microwave radiation testing.

This test involves checking your microwave to ensure it isn’t leaking radiation. This test is especially important if you have a domestic microwave being used in an office environment.

RCD and Safety Switch testing.

This test checks that all your safety switches are attached to the right circuits and operating correctly.

Earth Safety Checking.

This tests all your electrical circuits to ensure that they’re working correctly. This helps maintain a safe electrical environment but also reduces the risk of damage to your appliances and equipment from a faulty electrical circuit. 

Jim’s Test & Tag can conduct all of these electrical tests for your business. The trained technicians at Jim’s Test & Tag will be able to advise you which of these tests you need for your workplace and how regularly they should be conducted. They can also check your fire protection equipment and conduct tests of your fire protection equipment including fire extinguishers, fire hoses, signage and fire blankets at the same time. Phone 13 15 46 for more information about the services available.

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