New South Wales – Extract
Duty of Care
An employer or self-employed person has a duty of care to ensure that employees and visitors to the workplace are safe from injury and risks to health. An employer must, therefore, manage any safety risks surrounding electrical hazards, in accordance with the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 (NSW) and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2001 (NSW).
An employer or self-employed person is responsible for ensuring the portable plug-in electrical equipment in the workplace is safe.
Testing and Tagging
The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 2001 specifically identifies working environments where testing and tagging of electrical equipment is required, such as electrical equipment used for construction work and electrical equipment used in other “hostile operating environments”.
An employer or self employed person must also comply with the specific legislative requirements outlined in clauses 64 and 65 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2001.
Clause 64(2) requires:
- all electrical equipment that is used in construction work to be regularly inspected, tested and maintained by a competent person to ensure it is safe for use; and
- all electrical equipment that is used at a place or work where the safe operation of the electrical equipment could be affected by a hostile operating environment is regularly inspected, tested and maintained by a competent person to ensure it is safe for use; and
- all electrical equipment at a place of work that is found to be unsafe is disconnected from the electricity supply and is repaired, replaced or permanently removed from use.
Clause 65(1) requires:
- That an employer must ensure that a record is made and kept of all inspections and tests made and maintenance carried out on electrical equipment.
In clause 64 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2001, a hostile operating environment means an operating environment at a place of work where an item of electrical equipment is, in its normal use, subject to operating conditions that are likely to result in damage to the item of equipment. This includes an operating environment that may:
- cause mechanical damage to the item of equipment; or
- expose the item of equipment to moisture, heat, vibration, corrosive substances or dust that is likely to result in damage to the item of equipment.
A risk assessment must be carried out on electrical equipment that does not fall into a hostile operating environment. After the risk assessment, you can then implement a range of control measures to manage the safe operation of electrical equipment that is used in the workplace, including:
- routine visual checks by the equipment user
- formal visual inspections
- repair (by a qualified persons)
- use of fixed or portable residual current devices (RCDs) more commonly known as safety switches
- training and instructing employees in the safe use of the electrical equipment and, if determined as an outcome of a risk assessment, inspection and testing of identified electrical equipment.
In Clause 65 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2001 requires that a record is made and kept of all inspections, tests and maintenance carried out on electrical equipment that is used for construction work or used in a hostile operating environment.
Testing and tagging of electrical equipment on constructions sites must be undertaken monthly and the following colour coding of tags applies:
- Red – January and September
- Blue – February and July
- Orange – March and November
- Green – April and August
- White – May and December
- Yellow – June and October
- No colour – Yearly tagging, 5-yearly etc
Records of maintenance, including (but not limited to) inspections and tests, should be kept throughout the working life of the electrical equipment.
Although not required by the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2001, WorkCover recommends that for electrical equipment being used in a non-hostile operating environment that a documented risk assessment be undertaken or if there is a change in equipment use / location or if an electrical incident occurs at the workplace involving electrical equipment to which the risk assessment relates.
The inspection and testing of electrical equipment must be done by a “competent person”. A competent person, as defined in Clause 3 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2001, is a person who has acquired, through training, qualification or experience the knowledge and skills enabling the person to perform the task correctly.
RCD Testing – RCDs shall be tested in accordance with Appendix H of AS/NZ 3760:2010.
Compliance – Penalties apply for breach of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 (NSW) and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 2001 (NSW).
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