• Jim at SAMs
    Our Company policy for "inspection and testing" of electrical appliances is:

    Appliances shall be tested by a qualified person in accordance with Standard AS/NZS 3760: 2010 relative to the category of the workplace as defined in the Standard.
    Testing shall be carried out every 12 months for repair, body shop, and vehicle operations and every five years for all other departments.
    Any accident/incident involving mains power will be reported to Worksafe NZ PH 0800 030 040

    Our 7 sites are tested by Jims Test and tag franchisees(4) and a registered electrical company (3). Both companys are adamant that we have to test as per Table 4 of the standard. 6 monthly in our vehicle workshops and 12 monthly in other areas where the equipment or supply flexible cord is subjecting to flexing in normal use OR is open to abuse OR is in a hostile environment. Due to the age and fit-out of some of the older buildings we have to run multi power boards and consequently power cords can be subject to flexing in normal use and can be open to abuse.

    Our parent company has quoted some relevant sections of the standard, namely;

    The small print above Table 4 refers to "indicative Testing Schedule. Therefore, it is not set in concrete and can be altered as stated in the standard.

    Electrical equipment shall be tested and inspected:

    (a) At intervals indicated in Table 4 or as varied by a responsible person based on a risk assessment.

    A responsible Person is defined in the standard as:

    (a) the owner of the premises: or
    (b) The owner of the electrical equipment: or
    (c) The person who has the legal responsibility for the safety of the electrical equipment....

    The $$ cost of testing is significant, especially in our head office site which has 873 assets, of which 223 are tested 6 monthly and 486 are tested yearly (circa $4700 per annum)

    I appreciate the human injury cost could be far greater, but we have nil known incidents of electrical harm to any of our staff.

    Research also tells us that around 10% of equipment fails due to electrical safety and 90% fail for damage and wear and tear. We complete an internal monthly inspection of power cords etc.

    Safeguard Magazine published an article in September 2015 relative to Testing and Tagging.

    Our company values our people and are committed to a safe working environment, yet on the other hand we have to manage our costs.

    My understanding is that we must meet the minimum requirements of the standard. Is this correct ?
  • Craig Marriott
    This might help a little https://worksafe.govt.nz/topic-and-industry/electricity/testing-and-tagging-electrical-appliances/. It is worth noting that testing and tagging is not a mandatory legal requirement, which most people are unaware of. It's about risk management, not blindly following pre-set intervals.
  • MattD2
    It is worth noting that testing and tagging is not a mandatory legal requirement, which most people are unaware of. It's about risk management, not blindly following pre-set intervals.Craig Marriott

    But it is a damn good ass covering as any electrical equipment with a current tag (that has been applied as per the standard) is deemed electrically safe, which is the opposite of electrically unsafe and so you can not be considered to have not complied with the regulation to "not put any electrically unsafe equipment into service" if it has a tag on it...

    Of course this does nothing really for actually making it safe or not at the time of use (although the standard does include that a visual check prior to use is required), but that is not really the focus of compliance safety is it...
  • Rob Carroll
    Like a WOF, it is only good for the day the test was carried out. What we are seeing is perceived safety. Just because it has a PAT tag on it , most people perception is that it is safe to use and don't give a second thought to a visual inspection etc. Testing will not cover anyone's ass if they do not ensure electrical safety.
  • MattD2
    Yeah but unlike a WOF the regulation say it is considered electrically safe if it has a valid tag on it (R26 of the Electrical (Safety) Regulation).
    But I would expect that WorkSafe would never actually go after someone on an offence against R15.3 of the Electrical (Safety) Regulation when they could just used HSWA more effectively anyway.
  • Jos Bell
    Testing and tagging is one tool to help us make sure electrical equipment is safe, but must not be used in isolation. If a power lead with a current tag on it becomes damaged, and electrocutes the next person to use it, Worksafe is going to ask why we allowed the use of a damaged cord, and what our process is for pre-start checks, not whether Jim's Test and Tag know what they are doing (which I am sure they do). Our approach is to implement a realistic timeframe for testing/tagging, based on the conditions in which we use our equipment (which aligns with our employees real-world experience rather than an arbitrary standard), and then focus on training our staff to constantly check their equipment for themselves - which is far more likely to find problems (and is a far better way to "cover our asses") than a 6-month/12 month/18 month/5 year testing schedule.
  • Steven Carpinter
    Until this COVID nonsense I used to work for a venue management company. We were the site of a lot of trade shows and worked with the organisers to get the show into as good a state as possible compliance-wise before it opened. Individual exhibitors' electrical safety was usually a gateway drug for other horrors. Where we got pushback, we looked further. When we did, we would find the same attitude persisted in all aspects of their presentation - equipment modified or used outside designed purpose, unstable exhibits or materials, poor cold chain storage, you name it. In food or home shows, we were often working with LPG on site, inside a building too. The electrical faults we found through compliance checking would have contributed badly if there was an LPG leak (which we also found, just about every show). If people grasp electrical testing, they generally grasp a wider range of safety concepts.
  • Michelle Dykstra
    The risk is not just of electric shock but of fire. Check your fire insurance cover as tag testing may be required for cover in the event of electrical fires.
    A visual inspection cannot identify internal wear and tear which can lead to fire. This is especially a concern with multi-plugs, double-adaptors and extension cords.
    Consider the cost and quality of your multi-plugs as you generally get what you pay for and their overload protection does wear out which can lead to fire.
    As for double-adaptors; work places might do well to ban these altogether as they have no overload protection and rely solely on people using them wisely.
    I agree with @Steven Carpinter's observations although I count myself fortunate to have worked for more than one organisation that takes electrical safety (and all aspects of H&S) very seriously with only items with current tags permitted to be in use. This rule comes into its own in work environments with appliances coming and going, for example contractors and engineers using their own gear.
    If you work in an organisation that is not yet managing electrical safety holistically, starting with a test n tag regime is a great way to get a finger on the pulse and feedback to senior management. Testing can flag a wide range of issues such as the prevalence of extension cords, multi-plugs, double-adaptors, ground pins, modified guards, leaking microwaves, strained cables under height-adjustable desks and other horrors.
    I have a preference for engaging a third party tester as opposed to getting a staff member trained. I have known trained staff members to work well in the accommodation industry with many hairdriers, toasters and irons to check. However in a more complex industrial or workshop setting, a third party tester is invaluable.
    Back to @Jim at SAMs' question. Some tips to reduce the bill might be to switch to battery powered hand-tools where possible and invest in hard-wiring and adequate wall sockets to reduce use of extension cords and multiplugs. Finally, from memory, I believe the testing frequency for office equipment such as computers and screens is two-yearly. Perhaps this is an area in which you can make at least some savings.
  • Jim at SAMs
    Thanks Michelle. I'm pleased to say that the company I work for does take H&S seriously. I discussed the issue in depth with the senior management team and they have asked me to complete a risk analysis and make a recommendation. We are committed to using 3rd party Test and Tag providers.
  • Billy Cavanagh
    Hi. Some facts.
    It is not law to test and tag, but it is a way to take Reasonably Practicable Steps to ensure safety.
    A competent person can test and tag, why don't you train someone up to do it. Buy a PAT tester, attend a four hour training course, practise, get re-assessed and log competency.
    AS/NZS 3760 says more than 90% of faults are found by visual inspection, less than 10% by the PAT tester.
    Identify the appliances and log a visual check in a register, monthly.
  • Mike Massaar
    WorkSafe NZ actually have quite a pragmatic approach, https://worksafe.govt.nz/topic-and-industry/electricity/testing-and-tagging-electrical-appliances/ . Test and tag is not mandatory. We have changed our policy so that office stuff is just subject to a visual check of cords, plugs etc. which anyone can do, while workshop and field equipment is subject to test and tagging according to the AS/NZS Standard.
  • Andy Miller
    Great discussion. Has anyone established protocols for testing or inspecting equipment (leads, plug boxes etc.) used by employees when are working from home? Is anyone requiring test and tag or doing independant inspections?
  • Steve H
    Test and tag is not mandatory. We have changed our policy so that office stuff is just subject to a visual check of cords, plugs etc. which anyone can do,

    That's great for the things that can be seen Mike, what about the IEC lead made from dodgy reclaim that has an IR value of less than 1 Meg? or has a two core lead and a standard IEC female and three pin plug without the protection provided by having an earthed appliance connected to the installations earth? or where the lead was incorrectly manufactured with the Active & Neutral reversed?

    What about the items purchased from China while the MD was on a trip there that have Chinese domestic plugs fitted and are rated at 220V? What about the folk that get sent office items from the good ole USA where such things are rated at 120V and they buy travel adapters to run them off a standard outlet at 230V?

    I could go on and on,but you blokes really do need to stop listening to the folk at Energy Safety and their advisers, and read what the regulations say and what they require to discharge the obligations they impose.
  • Steve H
    than a 6-month/12 month/18 month/5 year testing schedule.
    Was the 18 months a typo Jos? 24 months is the retest interval for items in a Hostel/residential institution.
    When I was running Test & Tag training courses, I suggested to those attending that there were three parts to electrical safety in the workplace, and all of equal importance
    (1) Electrically Safe RCDs
    (2) Test & Tag done correctly to the standard (frequently not the case)
    (3) User checks

    Bit like a tripod, take any leg away and it falls over, just need to beware that RCDs don't always trip (either fast enough or at all), there are some scenarios that will see an RCD not protect someone from an electric shock which may be lethal) . And see my reply above to Mike about some of the limitations of user checks. Folk used to tell me that they had received a shock from some dodgy item, but had never reported it to Worksafe or seen a doctor, this may explain Worksafe's complacency regarding electrical safety

    I have a longer reply awaiting moderation
  • Steve H
    Morning folks

    Is test and tag a legal requirement, no, it is a way to deemed safe (apart from two specific instances). What absolutely is a legal requirement (and our friends at WorkSafe don't appear to know this), the person responsible for an electrical installation is responsible for the safety of the installation and appliances connected to it under the Electrical (Safety) Regulations 2010
    15 Using works, installations, fittings, appliances, and associated equipment
    • (1)A person who owns or operates works, installations, fittings, or appliances must not use, and must not allow any other person to use, the works, installations, fittings, or appliances if the works, installations, fittings, or appliances are electrically unsafe.
    Worksafe also appear not to have read the legislation that brought them into existence:

    38 Duty of PCBU who manages or controls fixtures, fittings, or plant
    at workplaces

    (1) A PCBU who manages or controls fixtures, fittings, or plant at a
    workplace must, so far as is reasonably practicable, ensure that the
    fixtures, fittings, or plant are without risks to the health and safety of
    any person.

    So how do we not be reckless about the safety of appliances used in our workplaces? (applies to items used when working from home)

    (1) Where possible we supply them through electrically safe RCD's which are regularly tested
    (2) All appliances are tested and tagged by a suitably qualified/trained and experienced person
    (3)Persons using appliances perform regular pre use checks (cord & plug, controls, guards present
    and unmodified (90% of items fail a visual check)

    So how do we reduce the cost of test & tag?

    Don't accept the cheapest quote, the responsible person has to ensure that whoever is TnT'ing, knows what they are doing (most electricians/ESTs/EASs don't) Cheapest almost certainly won't detect all the issues.Leckies hate TnT, it's below their dignity and will slap five year tags on all office items, they also don't look at voltage and current ratings to determine what plug is required

    Be aware that some TnT service providers will overtest things, by this I mean that things like Office Kitchen appliances should be TnT'ed yearly, likewise laptop chargers, heaters, extension leads, fans, power boards. Items such as monitors should only need to be tested on their introduction to service and then retested every 5 years, likewise terminals the IEC leads that supply them, printers and their IEC leads likewise.

    In a factory/workshop six monthly retesting complies with Table 4 of AS/NZS760, being aware that an office in the middle of a factory gets items in it tested yearly/five yearly

    Hire equipment every three months, with a visual check before each hire

    Building site gear, you fellas/fellesses get to deemed safe by testing and tagging to AS/NZS3012 and Table 3 Periodic Verification specifies 3 monthly retests

    For the last two, you cannot do a risk assessment and vary the retest interval (except to test more frequently)

    When legally must an item be tested and tagged, if it is being sold secondhand, and if it is repaired and that repair could compromise it's electrical safety. So chuck something on TradeMe, must be TnT'ed first, send your drill into get a new chuck fitted, no, send the same drill in for a new cordset then yes
    (Noting that second hand items get tested to AS/NZS 5761:2011 and repaired items to AS/NZS 5761

    One thing you can do is to triage your appliances, as I said above 90% of fails will be visual, so before your TnT provider does his or her thing, do a walk round, remove disused IEC leads/power packs etc, check extension leads (after unplugging them) look for any sign of damage, if you have tools, are the guards present? (sparkies usually get this wrong too) Do switches and controls work? Rating plate present and readable (legal requirement).

    If you think you are being ripped off,contact me for a chat, they are free

    FYI- Registered Electrical Service Technician, JTT Franchisee for ten years, Indy tagger for a year, and a contract trainer for a company specializing in TnT training, Contributor to the article on Test & Tag in Safeguard Mag
  • Steve H
    Consider the cost and quality of your multi-plugs as you generally get what you pay for and their overload protection does wear out which can lead to fire.
    As for double-adaptors; work places might do well to ban these altogether as they have no overload protection and rely solely on people using them wisely.
    Actually Michelle, the thermal cutouts fitted to powerboards both expensive and cheap, frequently don't work from the get go. Frequently you'll find them in cafe/smoko rooms supplying a kettle (8 amps load) a toasted sammy maker (6 amps load) a Microwave oven (4-6 Amps load) and least of all the fridge (perhaps 2 amps when the compressor is running).

    If you want to use multi outlet boards, get one that has a Miniature Circuit Breaker in it, This will prevent the board from being overloaded (don't ever, ever plug any heater/heating device into a power board. If you need more outlets, get your friendly electrical to replace your two way, with a four (f this is OK depending on your installation) this will cost a little, but gets away from a yearly TnT and makes things much safer is great advice from Michelle.

    If you are buying PSOAs for building site use, only consider Jackson Lifguards, they are the only ones that are compliant with the requirements for Portable Socket Outlet Assemblies, are long lived( I tested one every three months for over ten years without it failing) and if something gets damaged, are repairable.
  • Steve H
    You might want to have a look at this thread The Test & Tag Thread over the next few months, I'll add to it.
    It's not intended to replace someone doing a test & tag course, but given the feedback I've had when running such courses, it will certainly add to their body of knowledge
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