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Is Testing and Tagging Compulsory?

Test and Tag Tool
Test And Tag Compulsory

Testing and tagging is the process of testing portable electrical appliances to ensure that they’re safe to use. It’s an important part of a workplace’s safety standards. But if you own or manage a business, is it compulsory?

If you own or manage a business, you may be wondering whether testing and tagging is compulsory for your business. As a safety standard you may wish to conduct testing and tagging whether you’re legally required to or not, but it’s worth knowing whether it’s compulsory and, if so, what this entails.

Regulated industries

Testing and tagging is mandated for some industries including building and construction, demolition and mining. These industries have what’s known as a hostile operating environment which means that portable electrical appliances could easily be damaged in the normal course of business. A good example of this is a construction site.

For these industries, it is legislated that testing and tagging must happen every three months. The testing and tagging service in these industries also have colored tags that must be used depending on the season. These are blue for winter (June, July, August), yellow for spring (September, October, November), red for summer (December, January, February) and green for Autumn (March, April, May).

In these industries, testing and tagging is an important component of their OH&S/WH&S compliance and there are heavy penalties for not meeting the requirements.

Other industries

For other industries, testing and tagging is recommended but not compulsory. However, as a business owner or the responsible person in a business (such as the manager or supervisor), you have a duty of care to the people who work in and visit your premises, and this extends to ensuring there is a safe electrical environment. So, although testing and tagging isn’t regulated, making sure that all appliances in your workplace are tested and tagged means that you’re improving the safety of your workplace. If there was an accident in your business resulting from a faulty electrical appliance, then as the responsible person, you could be liable. Testing and tagging is one way to minimize the risk of an electrical accident in your workplace.

What laws govern testing and tagging?

Testing and tagging is governed by the safety standard AS/NZ 3760 which specifies who can conduct testing and tagging, how it is conducted, and how often it needs to be conducted depending on the specific work environment. 

Who can perform test and tag services?

AS/NZ 3760 stipulates that a competent person who has the skills, training and knowledge of the standard and how to use a Portable Appliance Tester can conduct testing and tagging. Before you engage a company to conduct testing and tagging for your business, you should ensure that all their technicians meet these requirements in that they have been trained and qualified in testing and tagging to the provisions of the standard.

The person who conducts testing and tagging doesn’t need to be a registered electrician in most states of Australia. When selecting a test and tag provider, it’s important to remember that the onus of responsibility for electrical safety still rests with you as the responsible person in the business, so it’s worth doing your due diligence to ensure that you engage a company that meets the standards as a minimum, and preferably offers training and qualifications above the standard.

Jim’s Test & Tag franchisees are all skilled professionals who undergo regular and ongoing training including obtaining a Certificate of Attainment in Test and Tag to ensure that they can provide you with an exceptionally high level of service.

Check before engaging your test and tag provider that they will provide you with comprehensive reports after each service. It’s advisable to get an assets list that details all the appliances that have been tested, their status and when the next test is due, and you should also be provided with a failed items report broken down into different areas of your business. If possible, you should get detailed test results which lists the type of test conducted, the load that was tested and if a leakage test was conducted, the leakage that was observed.  These reports help you document the safety provisions that you have in place in your business and may be important for insurance or other claims resulting from an electrical fault. 

What is involved in testing and tagging?

When you engage a provider to conduct testing and tagging for your business, they will visit your business and test every portable appliance in the premises. It doesn’t take long to test each appliance. The testing involves a visual inspection to check for damage and then electrical testing with a Portable Appliance Tester. Once the appliance has passed the test, it will be tagged with the results of the test, the name of the tester, and the date the next test is due.

It’s a good idea to ask your tester to use one tag color throughout your business on each visit. This isn’t compulsory, but it enables you to see immediately across your business if all appliances are compliant. If the most recent tag used is burgundy and you notice a kettle with a yellow tag, then it’s possible it was either brought in from another site (in which case you should manually check the due date on the tag) or someone forgot to put it out to be tested the last time appliances were tested.

What appliances need to be checked in my business?

All portable electrical appliances that meet the criteria set out in the standard AS/NZS 3760 need to be checked. That means any device that has a flexible cable, a removable plug and a voltage in excess of 50V should be tested and certified as safe to use. In addition to your business-related equipment, this also includes ancillary appliances such as kettles, microwaves and refrigerators. It also includes extension leads, cord sets, and portable residual current devices (RCDs). 

Importantly, it’s appliances that are used on site that need to be checked not just appliances that are owned by the business. So, for example, in an aged care home, appliances brought in by relatives and left in a resident’s room should be checked before they can be used on the premises, even though they’re not owned by the aged care provider.

How often does my business need to be checked?

Your test and tag supplier will confirm how often appliances in your business need to be checked. However, according to the standard, if you’re working in a typical office environment, then the testing recommendation for appliances is every 12 months. But if, for example, you have a commercial kitchen, then equipment used in that environment needs to be checked every 6 months. If you operate a business such as a hotel or motel, then appliances in the residential areas of those businesses only need to be checked every two years.

What about equipment I hire?

There are special provisions under the standard AS/NZS 3760 for hire equipment. Hire equipment needs to be tested and tagged every three months but it must be visually inspected for damage by the hirer prior to every hire. Visual inspection is an important part of the test and tag process as up to 90% of equipment faults can be identified from a visual inspection.

Jim’s Test & Tag has over 150 franchises across Australia, so in most cases there’ll be a franchise near you that can assist with all your test and tag requirements, phone 13 15 46 for more information.

For safety standards you should know who can test and tag, and how often do we need to check. If also must know about PAT portable appliance testers and how can we test and tags on portable appliance. You must know about the test and tag colours that will be helpful for you. Do you know about RCD testing? if not then understand it.

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