Every business owner is responsible for ensuring that their workplace is a safe electrical environment. It’s an OH&S requirement that you provide a safe workplace for your employees and anyone who visits the business including suppliers and customers.
So, how can you ensure that your workplace is a safe electrical environment for staff and visitors? The only way you can be sure that your workplace is a safe electrical environment is by having a regular testing protocol in place that ensures your appliances, safety switches, and circuits are all tested regularly and at appropriate intervals.
But where should you start?
Electrical risk assessment
If your electrical testing regime has been patchy and inconsistent, then it’s best to wipe the slate clean and engage a reputable provider such as Jim’s Test & Tag to do an electrical safety risk assessment on your place of business.
An electrical risk assessment involves inspection of your premises, identification of any risks, and making recommendations for eliminating or minimising those risks. When engaging a provider to conduct a risk assessment, it’s a good time to think about how important you view electrical safety in your workplace, and especially to think about the messages you send to your employees about electrical safety and the responsible use of electrical equipment. Is electrical safety part of your employee onboarding process? Do you get electrical equipment regularly tested? Do you talk to your employees about safety in the workplace and what to do if they notice an electrical issue? And would they know how to identify an electrical issue?
Electrical safety testing is a vital part of ensuring you’re operating a safe electrical environment. There are many different tests you may need to consider and implement if necessary.
Portable appliances need to be tested and tagged regularly. For many businesses, once a year will be sufficient. But if you operate a business in construction, mining or demolition then all appliances need to be tested every three months. There are also special requirements for businesses who hire out equipment and for factories and places of manufacture.
Testing and tagging is a process where portable appliances are tested and then tagged to ensure that they are safe to use. All portable appliances that have a flexible cord, a removable plug, and a voltage in excess of 50V must be tested. The technician will first examine the appliance for any signs of visible damage and will then test it using a portable appliance tester. It’s then tagged to indicate if it passed the test and when the next test is due. If an appliance fails the test, it is marked as a faulty item and either needs to be repaired or replaced.
It’s recommended that you also get your microwave regularly tested for radiation leakage. Microwave ovens use microwaves to heat up food (hence the name) and over time, that radiation can leak from the device. It’s something to keep in mind if you have a domestic microwave that is being used in an office kitchen because it’s being used daily and by lots of different people. One clue that your microwave might need to be tested is if you notice that the door seals on the microwave are damaged or beginning to deteriorate.
A safety switch is a vital component of electrical safety in your workplace. Safety switches (also known as Residual Current Devices) shut off the electrical current to prevent electric shock and electrocution. Safety switches in your workplace need to be time tested every 12 months and the technician who performs the test must record the time. The technician should also check that you have enough safety switches to cover all the electrical circuits on your premises. There’s no point having safety switches on some circuits and not others.
This test is also known as an electrical fault loop impedance test, and it ensures that all your electrical installations and power points are safe to use. It tests whether all the electrical wiring in your building is safe and identifies any faulty circuits. You should always get an electrical fault loop impedance test conducted in your business when you move into new premises so you can identify any issues before your employees move in.
Keeping track of electrical safety
It’s all well and good to have testing conducted in your workplace, but what records do you need to keep? How long should you keep them for and what do they tell you anyway?
Always engage a supplier who has stringent data management processes in place. Asking about record keeping is a question that business owners sometimes forget to consider when they’re comparing quotes for electrical safety testing. But it can make a big difference to your business over time.
Why does data matter?
It’s a record of your testing history
The records that your electrical supplier keeps of the tests conducted on your premises is an important third-party record of your compliance with electrical safety regulations.
The records document what tests were conducted, when, and what the results were. And these records can prove invaluable in the event of an insurance claim (after an electrical fire for example).
It’s an asset register of your electrical equipment inventory
Because a record is kept of every appliance and piece of electrical equipment that is tested in your business, the data also provides an asset register of your electrical equipment inventory which could be invaluable for insurance both in setting up your policy and processing a claim.
It reveals patterns over time
Longitudinal data collected every time testing is conducted on your premises tells the story of the electrical history of your business. And this can be important. If for example, you always have a high number of failed items, a technician can look back at previous records to see if the failures are always in one area of the business and that perhaps there’s a bigger issue at play and the circuits in that part of the business need to be checked.
Jim’s Test and Tag have a unique data management service that stores all the data related to electrical testing carried out in your business. In addition to tagging your appliances, the Jim’s Test & Tag technician will also place a test label containing a unique identifying barcode on each appliance. That barcode stays with the appliance for life and means that there is also a tested history for each appliance. This can be useful to identify if there is a particular appliance that regularly fails the test, gets repaired, and then develops the same fault. Without a unique appliance ID, you would be relying on memory to recall that a particular appliance had failed a test previously.
Jim’s Test & Tag manages all your data electronically, giving you your test results as a PDF or an Excel spreadsheet as well as keeping a record of your data on file themselves. Data management is just one reason why it’s good to develop a relationship with one particular supplier, so you know you have peace of mind when it comes to electrical safety in your workplace, phone 13 15 46 for more information.