Test and TagElectrical Test and tag in the workplace

Employers have a duty to provide and maintain, so far as is reasonably practicable, a workplace that is safe and without risks to health. They must also provide and maintain safe systems of work for employees involved in the use, inspection and maintenance of electrical equipment, including all electrical installations, under the employer’s management and control.

To meet their obligations and provide a safe system of work, employers should identify potential electrical hazards in the workplace, assess the risks, implement appropriate risk controls and have procedures in place to review and maintain those controls.

Test and Tag is a method of ensuring compliance with Australian WHS and Electrical Safety regulations and workplace safety. Electrical Test and Tag is a process of carefully visually inspecting each appliance for damage to flex, connections, guards, covers and plug by a competent technician. Once the technician is assured the item is safe to electrically inspect, the item’s insulation, earthing and polarity may be tested to ensure it is electrically safe.

Portable appliances such as power tools and kettles are items that are most frequently handled by workers are also the most open to abuse and hostile environmental conditions – which can cause them to become electrically unsafe. Having electrical equipment system for test and tag in a workplace can be a confusing task. This can be more costly when the person completing the test does not understand the legal requirements and needlessly test equipment that does not meet the requirements. For example, testing a USB lead used to charge a mobile phone. Each State has similar details on this electrical testing. Queensland is completely different due to the different rules under the Electrical Safety Act, introduced in 2002.

The Test and Tag process involves two parts: first visually inspecting the appliance for any damage, followed by electrically testing it with a Portable Appliance Tester. Once tested, a tag is placed on the lead to confirm that it has in fact been tested. Additional information includes who tested it, the test date and when the next test is due. The primary reason behind doing testing and tagging is to ensure the safety of the people in the workplace coming into contact with the appliance. this also reduces the risk of an electrical hazard.

The AS/NZS 3760 is the Australian Standard that provides guidelines and regulations for the test for electrical safety of appliances. It sets out recommendations to issues such as testing intervals, defines who can test with the general guidelines.

In Queensland the ‘specified electrical equipment’ is categorised into different types of ‘work’,

  • Hiring
  • Amusement
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Office
  • Rural, and
  • Service

Test and Tag requirement

In Queensland most of the confusion surround the test and tag requirement of ‘specified electrical equipment’ for Office / Service work. In this instance there is an annual or 5-year testing cycle. However, what is often overlooked is that the testing regime is not required IF the circuits are protected by a safety switch.

In all instances the Safety Switch MUST be tested by a competent person for the trip time and amperage. Understandably this is a specialist task completed by an electrical trades person. The electrical trades person then compiles a certificate of the test for the safety switch operation as being serviceable or not. Between these safety switch tests the user MUST be also testing the activation of the safety circuit. Users are required to ‘Press to test’ button at predetermined intervals to ensure the safety switch remains serviceable.

The test and tag requirements does not eliminate the need for workplaces to complete checks of equipment on a scheduled basis to ensure that they remain safe to operate.