• Sandra Nieuwoudt
    26
    Hi all

    We are a laboratory that has specialised equipment and operations shutdown for an area when we do test and tag etc. We have a schedule for test and tag according to the type of environment/ equipment/ risk and intervals annually, 2yrs, 5yrs, etc.

    We have a procedure but I would appreciate it if anybody can share theirs with me as a comparison, for example, a methodology for low-risk equipment vs sensitive equipment.

    Kind regards
    Sandra ()
  • KeithH
    61
    Hi all
    We have a procedure but I would appreciate it if anybody can share theirs with me as a comparison, for example, a methodology for low-risk equipment vs sensitive equipment.
    Sandra Nieuwoudt

    Sandra
    Generally frequency of testing under AS/NZS 3760 leans towards the environment the equipment is in rather than the type of equipment itself.

    AS/NZS 3760:2010 applies for most testing while AS/NZS 3551:2012 applies to medical equipment.
    Registered electricians will be able to access AS/NZS 3760 through the EWRB. Not sure about AS/NZS 3551:2012.

    @Steve H provided a link to the proposed 2020 update -
    Download the proposed draft standard hereSteve H

    I would suggest talking with the EWRB - EWRB Contact page
  • Sandra Nieuwoudt
    26
    Hi, Thank you for the response.
    The question is not around the rules it is about how does a typical internal process/procedure looks like.
  • Steve H
    202
    With any equipment Sandra, accurately determining what the risk that damage might occur between one inspection and the next can be trying and somewhat inconsistent.

    By this I mean an extension lead that is sitting protected in a tray, plugged into a wall outlet and supplying a large printer could quite reasonably tested (properly) and tagged for retest in five years time, The same lead, laying on a floor, moved, unplugged and plugged back in several times a week, used to supply a variety of different items could be tested yearly. If it was used for commercial cleaning equipment then six monthly. Assuming it was a heavy duty lead, take it on a building site and three months may not be frequent enough.

    The thing is, it is up to the person responsible for the equipment, in conjunction with the person testing to determine a suitable retest period with regard to the specific environment it's being used in.
  • Steve H
    202
    Registered electrical workers with a current practicing license can access all Standards cited in the Electrical Safety Regulations as either being mandatory to comply with, or a means of complying with the requirement to ensure electrical safety of installations and equipment or fittings connected to them.
  • Steve H
    202

    AS/NZS 3760 details what the procedure is Sandra, you do have some more interesting items in your labs to test, and some are a bit more problematic to test than the average workplace.

    By using modern latest generation Portable Appliance Testers with properly configured test sequences, there are no issues with testing your centrifuges, titration equipment , fume cabinets etc etc, but a certain amount of knowledge and experience is required..
  • Robb
    33
    And, of course - don't lose sight of the fact that following AS/NZS 3760 is NOT a mandated requirement. Having electrically safe equipment is - how you determine something is electrically safe is up to you.
    AS/NZS 3760 is one way of testing equipment by providing a snapshot of when the equipment was tested. It should not be relied upon as the only way to determine electrically safe equipment.

    https://www.worksafe.govt.nz/topic-and-industry/electricity/testing-and-tagging-electrical-appliances/
  • Steve H
    202
    And, of course - don't lose sight of the fact that following AS/NZS 3760 is NOT a mandated requirement. Having electrically safe equipment is - how you determine something is electrically safe is up to you.Robb

    Great advice Robb, of course if it goes pear shaped and you've used an alternative route, you will need to be prepared to defend your alternative. Testing to AS/NZS 3760 and the item having a current pass tag gets you to deemed safe under ESR 26.

    Of course, you wouldn't want to rely on a smudgy tag alone handwritten by person or persons unknown. You'd want to have a detailed set of the results of the tests that were applied to the item. The item would want to have been electrically compliant at the time of testing (ie correct voltage rating, correctly rated plug ete etc).

    Then there is also the consideration that your insurance company may want evidence that the appliances connected to your installation are electrically, and they may want thermal imaging of your switch boards, control cabinets, air con etc etc.
  • MattD2
    219
    Great advice Robb, of course if it goes pear shaped and you've used an alternative route, you will need to be prepared to defend your alternative. Testing to AS/NZS 3760 and the item having a current pass tag gets you to deemed safe under ESR 26.Steve H
    Has compliance with R26 ever been used as a defense in court? Given that the Electricity Safety Regulations generally require the prevention of the use electrically unsafe equipment (rather than ensuring the provision of electrically safe equipment), and the definition of electrically unsafe is [paraphrasing] any equipment where there is a significant risk that a person may suffer serious harm due to electricity, compliance with R26 practically becomes a moot point the second after the tag is attached.
    Although talking of prosecutions under the ESR is probably all a moot point as a whole given that it is more likely that any prosecution would handled as an offences against the duties under HSWA (rather than specifically the ESR) - i.e. an offence against S38 Duty of PCBU who manages or controls fixtures, fittings, or plant at workplaces (however we all know that it would more likely be lackadaisically thrown under a S36 offence like everything else).
  • Steve H
    202
    Generally being able compliance with appropriate regulations/codes of practice would provide a defense Matt for a charge under 38, or 36, but given WS's low rate of compliance action against anyone, what are the odds you are ever going to need to defend anything?.

    And I certainly wouldn't rely on just testing & tagging alone, as you have repeatedly suggested an items electrical safety state can change minutes after it has been tested.

    But done properly, and the caveat is "properly", it will identify items not rated for use at NZ Standard Voltage, fitted with plugs that are below the rated current draw of the appliance, missing/non functional safety features, damaged/electrically unsafe items. Done over several retest intervals, it establishes that a company has a system for managing the electrical safety of it's electrical appliances.

    But testing and tagging alone isn't sufficient, RCD's Arc Fault Detection Devices and regular user checks of items are all a part of a robust and systematic approach to electrical safety.
  • Mark Taylor
    29
    Does anyone have an alternative to portable appliance testing for checking the appliances continuity and resistance
    I have asked WorkSafe on numerous occasions but they have never come back to me with a reply?
  • Steve H
    202


    And that would be the disingenuous part of their "advice" in the link Robb provided above Mark.
  • Mark Taylor
    29
    I agree, but as the regulator surely they should be in a position to suggest reasonable alternatives, rather than not replying at all?
  • Michael Wilson
    111
    If you buy "house brand" power tools they won't last until the next test is due. Not a great alternative.
  • Steve H
    202
    If you buy "house brand" power tools they won't last until the next test is due. Not a great alternative.Michael Wilson

    No guarantee that any electrical appliance is safe from the moment it is sold Mark, that would be why New Zealand's version of AS/NZS 3760 recommends testing and tagging before first use
  • MattD2
    219
    New Zealand's version of AS/NZS 3760 recommends testing and tagging before first useSteve H
    Unless protected by an RCD
  • MattD2
    219
    Does anyone have an alternative to portable appliance testing for checking the appliances continuity and resistance
    I have asked WorkSafe on numerous occasions but they have never come back to me with a reply?
    Mark Taylor
    If you are meaning for testing to the standard there would be a number of specific tools required; multimeter, megohmmeter, a way to measure leakage current, etc. and you would also need a competent electrician to interpret the test results... which is the reason for a PAT, that it combines those tools into one which is relatively easy to use and provides the test results in form that requires relatively little interpretation, e.g. a simple pass/fail
  • Mark Taylor
    29
    What I’m referring to is another method to detect the internal circuit and resistance properties of the appliance
    I have spoken to a few electricians and they have said there is no viable alternative which provides the same level of confidence
    Thermal image testing is a good alternative for switch boards but not for portable tools
    Also, a few people have told me it is a requirement of their insurance and Argest checks in schools and it could make a claim invalidated if a fire results from overloading
    It’s all very well saying you don’t have to do testing, but if there is not a viable alternative there could be consequences!
  • MattD2
    219
    What I’m referring to is another method to detect the internal circuit and resistance properties of the appliance
    I have spoken to a few electricians and they have said there is no viable alternative which provides the same level of confidence
    Mark Taylor
    yes that was my point, there is an alternative (buy a whole lot more tools and have a electrician spend a whole lot more time doing the testing) it just isn't a financially viable one.

    Alternatives for the protection of people from the risk of electrocution / electric shock:
    • ensure that all electrical appliances are supplied through an RCD protected circuit that is periodically tested.
    • Ensure that any damage to electrical appliances, including cords/leads, is serviced/repaired by a competent electrician

    Alternatives for the protection of people from the risk of fire causes by unsafe electrical appliances -
    • ensure that all electrical circuits are suitably fused to prevent overcurrent.
    • do not modify any electrical appliances (again any damage to electrical appliances, including cords/leads, is serviced/repaired by a competent electrician), e.g. no changing 15A 3-pin plugs to 10A ones to make it easier to find a socket outlet that you can use.

    Also, a few people have told me it is a requirement of their insurance and Argest checks in schools and it could make a claim invalidated if a fire results from overloadingMark Taylor
    This makes no sense at all - tag and testing to AS/NZS 3670 is going to do nothing to manage the risk of fires from overloading.
  • Mark Taylor
    29
    Sorry I’m not an electrician
    I was told that a fault in the wire could lead to additional heat and and a possible fire occurring
    I was also told that you couldn’t rely on RCDs or overrides working, particularly when multi boards were plugged in parallel
    Is that correct?
  • Mark Taylor
    29
    I suppose it would also come down to what is deemed as reasonably practicable and if the cost is grossly disproportionate or not to the risk, on what controls are applied
  • Steve H
    202
    New Zealand's version of AS/NZS 3760 recommends testing and tagging before first use — Steve H

    Unless protected by an RCD
    MattD2
    The caveat with that Matt is,only while it is new- so how long does new last?

    Alternatives for the protection of people from the risk of electrocution / electric shock:MattD2

    So long as the RCD operates correctly (they don't always- have failed plenty on test) it should prevent someone under certain circumstances form being "electrocuted", but it will not prevent them from receiving a shock for 30 (or more milliseconds), that small amount of time could still see them die

    .
    Alternatives for the protection of people from the risk of fire causes by unsafe electrical appliances -

    ensure that all electrical circuits are suitably fused to prevent overcurrent.
    MattD2

    Fuses are incorporated in circuits to prevent overloading of cables supplying outlets and other fittings in an electrical installation, Arc Fault Detection Devices will open if they detect micro arcs, and are a great option to prevent fires

    .
    This makes no sense at all - tag and testing to AS/NZS 3670 is going to do nothing to manage the risk of fires from overloading.MattD2
    That is of course, just your opinion Matt, in the UK their test & tag regime was shown to have reduced fires in workplaces by a substantial percentage, in the final analysis, if TnT and Thermal Imaging is what an insurance company asks for, then you comply or risk voiding your insurance cover.

    overrides working, particularly when multi boards were plugged in parallel
    Is that correct?
    Mark Taylor

    The thermal overloads fitted to both cheap and expensive multiboards do not operate reliably, and that is the reason they should not be used anywhere, some multiboards do have Miniature Circuit Breakers fitted to limit overloading, these do work reliably (but that must be rated to match the outlets fitted to the board- ie 10A outlets, 10A MCB etc)
  • MattD2
    219
    The caveat with that Matt is,only while it is new- so how long does new last?Steve H
    Yep agree - I would expect that the assumption is that it is until the next standard test period, so if you test that equipment on a 6 monthly basis then 6 months is the max.

    That is of course, just your opinion Matt, in the UK their test & tag regime was shown to have reduced fires in workplaces by a substantial percentage, in the final analysis, if TnT and Thermal Imaging is what an insurance company asks for, then you comply or risk voiding your insurance cover.Steve H
    My point was it is the circuit protection that prevents fires, but take your point that it could prevent a faulty piece of equipment from being plugged in and requiring the circuit protection to trip.
    Do you have any more information/data on the decrease of fires in the UK?
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet

Welcome to the Safeguard forum!

If you are interested in workplace health & safety in New Zealand, then this is the discussion forum for you.