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Electrical Safety Procedure

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(1) Introduction

(2) Charles Darwin University has a legal obligation to abide by referenced technical standards and laws in relation to electrical safety. There are many national technical and safety standards that have been developed to assist the safe control and use of electricity.

(3) All electrical work at any University campus or facility is to be completed in accordance with the applicable Australian standards and the requirements of the Code of Practice Managing Electrical Risks in the Workplace.

Section 1 - Compliance

(4) This is a compliance requirement under the:

  1. NT WHS Act (NUL) 2011
  2. NT WHS Regulations (NUL) 2011
  3. Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic)
  4. Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA)
  5. Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld)
  6. Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA)
  7. NT Electrical Workers and Contractors Act 1978
  8. NT Electricity Networks (third party access) Act 2000
  9. NT Electricity Reform Act 2000
  10. Code of Practice Managing Electrical Risks in the Workplace
  11. Code of Practice: How to manage work health and safety risks
  12. AS/NZS 3000:2007: Electrical installations
  13. AS/NZS 3012:2010: Electrical installations – Construction and demolition sites
  14. AS/NZS 3760:2010: In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment
  15. AS/NZS 3551:2012: Management programs for medical equipment
  16. AS/NZS 3003:2018: Electrical Installations – patient areas
  17. AS/NZS 3190:2016: Approval and test specification – Residual current devices (current-operated earth-leakage devices)
  18. AS/NZS 2978:1995: Insulating mats for electrical purposes.
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Section 2 - Intent

(5) This procedure applies to all persons (staff, contractors, students, visitors) who carry out electrical activities at or for the University. This includes those who undertake research and collaboration with outside agencies.

(6) The purpose of this procedure is to inform all levels of University management and all individuals of their obligation to:

  1. Comply with the law and the specific requirements covering electrical safety; and
  2. Enable them to actively assist in achieving electrical safety at the University.
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Section 3 - Relevant Definitions

(7) In the contest of this document:

  1. Competent Person means a:
    1. licensed or registered electrician;
    2. licensed electrical inspector; or
    3. person who has completed a structured training course and been assessed as competent in the use of appliance testers and the visual inspection of electrical equipment.
  2. Electrical installation means an electric line or electrical article placed in, on or over land or a building and used or intended to be used for or for purposes incidental to the conveyance, control or use of electricity supplied or intended to be supplied by the Power and Water Corporation or a licensee under the Electricity Reform Act 2000 to supply electricity or an owner or occupier of a private plant, whether or not supplied by the person contracting or undertaking to install it, and includes additions and alterations to an electrical installation.
  3. Electrical work means connecting electricity supply wiring to electrical equipment or disconnecting electricity supply wiring from electrical equipment, or installing, removing, adding, testing, replacing, repairing, altering or maintaining electrical equipment or an electrical installation.
  4. Electrical worker means a person who, in pursuance of this Act, performs in whole or in part electrical work specified in the definition of electrical cable jointer, electrical fitter, electrical linesman or electrical mechanic.
  5. Energised (Live) means connected to a source of electrical supply or subject to hazardous induced or capacitive voltages.
  6. Electrical Portable Outlet Devices (EPODS) such as power boards for computer systems.
  7. Flexible supply lead means a flexible cable or cord which supplies voltage to electrical equipment. It has one end connected to a plug with pins designed to engage with a general power outlet, and the other end either:
    1. connected to terminals within the equipment; or
    2. fitted with a connector designed to engage with an appliance inlet fitted to the equipment.
  8. Fixed Equipment means equipment that is fastened to a support, secured in position or otherwise due to its size and mass located in a specific location
  9. General Power Outlet (GPO) means a three pin flat pin 10 amp socket outlet or power point as commonly known (AS300, Standard for Wiring Rules).
  10. Hostile operating environment means a workplace where the electrical equipment or flexible supply cord is subject to operating conditions that are likely to result in damage to the 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.
  11. Ingress Protection (IP) rating means IP rating outlined in International Standard IEC 60529.  IP rating, classifies and rates the degree of protection provided against intrusion (body parts such as hands and fingers), dust, accidental contact, and water by mechanical casings and electrical enclosures for electrical equipment such as portable outlets.
  12. Licence means an electrical worker's licence that is issued under Section 22, NT Electrical Workers and Contractors Act 1978 or an electrical contractor's licence issued under the authority of NT Electrical Workers and Contractors Act 1978.
  13. Non-hostile operating environment means a workplace that is dry, clean, well-organised and free of operating conditions that are likely to result in damage to electrical equipment or the flexible supply cord. For example: offices, classrooms, etc.
  14. Residual Current Device (RCD) means a device intended to isolate supply to protected circuits, socket outlets or electrical equipment in the event of a current flow to earth that exceeds a predetermined value. The RCD may be fixed or portable.
  15. Stationary Equipment means equipment having a mass exceeding 18 kg and not provided with carrying handle(s).
  16. Voltages means differences of potential, normally existing between conductors and between conductors and earth as follows:
    1. Extra-low voltage (ELV) - not exceeding 50 V ac or 120 V ripple free dc;
    2. Low voltage (LV) - exceeding extra-low voltage, but not exceeding 1000 V ac or 1500 V dc; or
    3. High voltage (HV) - exceeding low voltage
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Section 4 - Procedure

Managing Risks of Electrical Equipment

(8) The University has a duty of care to ensure that employees and visitors on University properties are safe from injury and risks to health. Therefore, any safety risks surrounding electrical hazards must be managed in accordance with the requirements of the NT WHS Act (NUL) 2011 and WHS Regulation (NUL) 2011 (Regulations).

(9) A systematic risk management approach must be applied to eliminate or control the risk of electrical hazards. Control measures include:

  1. Routine visual checks;
  2. Regular inspection;
  3. Scheduled maintenance;
  4. Repair;
  5. Replacement;
  6. Use of residual current devices (RCDs); and
  7. Where warranted, testing of identified electrical equipment.

Environments Requiring Testing

(10) Regulations state environments requiring testing are those which expose equipment to moisture, heat, vibration, mechanical damage, corrosive chemicals or dust. Examples include:

  1. Wet or dusty areas;
  2. Outdoors or workplaces that use corrosive substances; or
  3. Commercial kitchens and manufacturing environments.

(11) More frequent testing and tagging will be scheduled in University training kitchens, laboratories, bakeries, hairdressing salon, and workshops as these are to be considered as high-risk operating environments. Assessment of other University workplaces should be carried out to determine if it is considered a high-risk operating environment under the Australian Standards and Regulations in collaboration with the Safety Emergency and Wellbeing (SEW) team.

Requirements for Serviced or Repaired Electrical Equipment

(12) Electrical equipment that has been serviced or repaired must be inspected, tested and tagged before the equipment is placed back into service. Any second-hand electrical equipment purchased must be tested and tagged before its first use.

Who Can Inspection and Test Electrical Equipment

(13) The inspection and testing of electrical equipment must be done by a competent person.

(14) The competent person must be authorised by the University and the person authorising the work must make sure the inspection and testing program is appropriate and adequate for the needs of the workplace. If in doubt, the person authorising the inspection and testing program must obtain advice from a person qualified in electrical matters, an electrician, electrical contractor or specialist testing provider.

Visual and Physical Inspection

(15) AS/NZS 3760:2010 requires the following equipment checks be made by visual and physical inspection of all equipment:

  1. Check for obvious damage, defects, or modifications in the equipment and its accessories, connectors, plugs or cord extension sockets; and for discoloration that may indicate exposure to excessive heat, chemicals or moisture.
  2. Check that flexible cords are effectively anchored to equipment, plugs, connectors and cord extension sockets.

(16) Inspection includes flexing and straining at points of entry and clamping points by the application of reasonable combination of push/pull and rotary movements for the detection of broken strands or loose connections.

  1. Check for damage to flexible cords to ensure that:
    1. The inner cores of flexible cords are not exposed or twisted.
    2. The external sheaths are not cut, abraded, twisted, or damaged to such an extent that the insulation of the inner cores is visible.
    3. Unprotected conductors or the use of banding insulation tape are not in evidence.

(17) Careful running of the flexible cord through the hand will often detect internal damage such as twisted conductors or broken core filling.  Connecting the plugs/cord extension sockets of cord extension sets together helps to confirm that the terminals have not spread.

(18) For EPODs:

  1. Check the warning indicating the maximum load to be connected to the device is intact and legible and the IP rating.
  2. Check any operating controls are in good working order, that they are secure, aligned and appropriately identified.
  3. Check covers, guards and the like are secured and working in the manner intended by the manufacturer or supplier.
  4. Check ventilation inlets and exhausts are unobstructed.
  5. Inspect pins of insulated pin plugs for damage to the pins insulation, and, if fitted, inspect the shroud on cord extension sockets for damage.
  6. Check the current rating of the plug is consistent with the current rating of the equipment.

Testing

(19) Testing of earthing continuity, insulation, portable isolating transformers, operation of RCDs, polarity of rewireable plugs, portable generators, arch welders with exposed terminals, portable inverters and Class 1 equipment must be carried out by a competent person.  The requirements of AS/NZS 3760:2010 Tables 1 and 2 in this standard specify the leakage current limits and insulation resistance limits for such testing.

Action for Non-Compliant Equipment

(20) Equipment that fails the inspection or testing must be appropriately tagged and withdrawn from service. A Danger Tag or Out of Service tag should be used to indicate that the equipment requires remedial action and CANNOT be used (examples of these tags are at Appendix 2). The equipment must be disconnected from all possible sources of electricity supply and rendered incapable of being made live in such a manner that it cannot be accidentally or unintentionally used until repaired (e.g. locked out, locked away).  For some items such as extension leads, EPODs etc disposal may be the best course of action dependent on the extent of the fault.

Tags

(21) Equipment that passes inspection and testing must be fitted with tags that are durable, legible, non-reusable, non-metallic and may be colour coded. The date on which the test was performed must be indicated. In addition, the name of the person (company) who performed the test as well the date of next test must be indicated. Reference should also be made to AS3760.   An example of a compliant Electrical Test Tag is provided in Appendix 2.

Requirements for NEW electrical equipment

(22) The supplier of new electrical equipment is deemed responsible for the electrical safety of the equipment in accordance with the legislation and principles of safe design and manufacture. Regardless of this inherent manufacturer requirement, it is a University requirement to inspect, test and tag all new equipment prior to use.

  1. Non-Hostile Office and Office Kitchen Appliances/Equipment: All office and office kitchen equipment in a non-hostile environment can be visually inspected by a competent person to ensure no damage has occurred during shipment or commissioning and may then be made live prior to being tested and tagged. This equipment must then be tested and tagged at the earliest opportunity and in accordance with this procedure.
  2. For equipment in non-hostile environments, following inspection the new equipment that has been assessed as requiring future testing is to be fitted with a tag stating that the equipment is ‘new to service’, and the date of entry into service. This sets a baseline date for future electrical inspection and testing.
  3. Hostile Environments: All new equipment purchased for use or potential use in workshops, laboratories, or for fieldwork must be tested and tagged before use or deployment into the field and then in accordance with this procedure.

Requirements for Stationary Electrical Equipment

(23) Stationary or fixed equipment connected by a fixed cable or flexible cord which is not flexed in normal use or exposed to damage, nor is in a higher-risk operating environment, is not normally considered to represent a hazard sufficient to warrant routine in-service electrical safety testing. Subject to the outcome of a risk assessment, the testing of such equipment is not normally required.

(24) In-service testing is required where flexible cable or cord is flexed on equipment that is moved only for restocking, maintenance, or cleaning, It is sufficient to conduct only a visual inspection and earth test on such fixed or stationary equipment.

(25) The categories in the following table list plug-in type electrical equipment that is commonly used in higher-risk operating environments and does require regular inspection and testing and provides some examples of the types of electrical equipment.

Table 1 – Electrical Equipment Categories

Category of Equipment Examples of Electrical Equipment to be Tested
Hand held electrical equipment
All hand held power tools
Hairdryers (heat degradation)
Kitchen appliances
Laboratory Equipment
 
Portable electrical equipment moved while in operation
Floor polishers
Vacuum cleaners
Portable lighting equipment
Electrical equipment that is moved between operations in such a manner
that could damage the flexible supply lead
Portable electronic whiteboards,
overhead projectors
Electrical plant used in factory type environments Welding machines
Extension cords – High Risk
Power boards – High Risk
Electrical equipment that is used in a higher-risk operating environment
where damage to the equipment or the electricity supply to that equipment could occur such as in wet or dusty conditions.
Electrical equipment used in wet or dusty areas
Electrical equipment used outdoors, in kitchens
Certain Workshops and factory-type environments Laboratories (chemical or heat damage)

(26)  

Requirements for Desktop Computers and Office Electrical Equipment

(27) Not all electrical equipment requires regular testing. In some situations, electrical equipment such as desktop computers and stationary office equipment does not present a risk to their operators due to the:

  1. Permanent nature of their location; and  
  2. Non-hostile working environment in which the equipment is used.

(28) In cases like these, a risk assessment should be carried out in accordance with the risk management provisions of the Regulations. The assessment should determine whether desktop computers and other similar stationary office equipment warrant regular testing and tagging at a greater frequency than the five yearly cycle recommended in this procedure.

University Electrical Testing and Tagging Guidance

(29) The following additional guidance is provided for all University Schools, Colleges and Operational areas.  The table below is the minimum standard for University electrical testing and tagging compliance for electrical equipment; it may occur at a greater frequency should an area choose to do so.

(30) Testing and tagging is arranged by submission of a Work Request to Facilities Management and paid for by School, College or Operational area being tested and tagged.

Table 2 – University Testing and Tagging Requirements

Type of Environment or Equipment
Interval
Comments
Extension Leads
6 monthly
 
 
12 monthly
If used in any type of workshop area or in any type of construction work or fieldwork.
 
All other extension leads longer than 10m - Increased risk.   In accordance with Appendix A
EPODs for workshops
Events (e.g. O Week)
6 monthly
12 monthly
In workshops, construction sites, fieldwork
For Events / activities
Workshops Electrical Equipment
6 monthly
In accordance with Appendix 1
Laboratories Electrical Equipment
12 monthly
In accordance with Appendix 1
Field Work Electrical Equipment
12 monthly
Higher risk work activities and environmental risks
VET training kitchens, hairdressing salon and bakery
12 monthly
Higher risk work activities and environmental risks
Power tools and Electrical Hand-Tools
6 monthly
In accordance with Appendix 1
Non-Hostile Office Environment 
Extension Leads
5 yearly
Provided they are being used in office spaces to supply electronic equipment – computers etc
EPODs for offices spaces
5 yearly
Lower risk unlikely to be moved around frequently
Phone or Tablet computer chargers (iPad)
5 yearly
Applies to both personal or CDU property
Office Equipment – Non-Hostile Environment
All Computers, Screens, docking stations, desk fans, desk lights
5 yearly
in accordance with Appendix 1
Office Building Kitchens
Toasters, sandwich makers, Refrigerators, coffee machines and kettle and extension leads
5 yearly
In accordance with Appendix 1
Stationary Office equipment such as Printers, laminators etc 
5 yearly
In accordance with Appendix 1
RCD Testing
 
In accordance with Appendix 1 dependent on the type of Hostile or Non-Hostile area

RCD Testing

(31) All RCD testing MUST be in accordance with Appendix 1 reproduced from AS/NZS 3760: 2010 (table 4) that outlines the required scheduling interval for all RCD testing.

Personal, Lease or Hire Equipment

(32) The electrical inspection, testing and tagging requirements outlined in this procedure also apply to personal, leased or hired electrical equipment used in a hostile operating environment. If a staff member, student or visitor refuses to allow testing, the equipment must be removed from the workplace. If any personal, leased or hired equipment fails testing the owner must be notified before any further action is undertaken. Testing must not damage any personal, leased or hired equipment.

(33) Staff member, student or visitor personal IT devices (e.g. laptops, tablets, phone chargers etc) used in a non-hostile environment do not require testing and tagging while on University property.

Documentation and Record Keeping

(34) The following records are required for the electrical testing and tagging program:

  1. A record of all electrical inspections and tests;
  2. A ‘repair’ register; and
  3. A record of all faulty equipment showing details of services or corrective actions.

(35) Records are to be retained for in accordance with the University’s WHS Records Management procedure.

Frequency of Testing

(36) A risk assessment can be used to indicate the testing frequency. However, the guide in Appendix 1 (reproduced from AS3760:2010) also provides indicative intervals.

Additional Requirements for Workshops, Fieldwork and Laboratories

(37) All electrical equipment used in workshops, fieldwork and laboratories have additional inherent mechanical, abrasive or crush risks as well as environmental risks from ongoing exposure to heat, moisture (high humidity or rain). To mitigate these risks, the standards listed in Appendix 3 apply to EPODs and extensions leads.

Safe Work Procedures (SWP)

(38) All electrical work on live electrical equipment must be carried out in accordance with a SWP. A SWP is a process for identifying and controlling health and safety hazards and risks. They may also incorporate a risk assessment.

(39) SWP’s are required in relation to prescribed ‘high risk construction work’ which includes construction work carried out on or near live electrical installations or services. SWP must be developed in consultation with relevant workers. If the workers are represented by a health and safety representative (HSR), the consultation must involve that representative. SWP prepared for live electrical work should describe consultation arrangements with the person, management or control of the workplace, including any authorisation procedures and position descriptions. The SWP must:

  1. Identify the electrical work.
  2. Specify the hazards associated with that electrical work and risks to health and safety associated with those hazards.
  3. Describe the measures to be implemented to control the risks.
  4. Describe how the control measures are to be implemented, monitored and reviewed, and may include the risk assessment prepared for the relevant work.
  5. SWP must be written in a way that is easy to understand by the workers who are to use them. A copy must be readily accessible to any worker who is to carry out the electrical work covered by the statement.

(40) The SWP must be reviewed and revised as necessary if relevant control measures are revised under the Regulations. They must, for example, be revised if a decision is made to change relevant SWP’s at the workplace.