NSW Test and Tag Regulations for Non-Hostile Office Environments
The question “do I really need to test and tag in my office in NSW?” is asked regularly as there are different interpretations of the NSW Workplace Health and Safety Regulations and the NSW Code of Practice for Managing Electrical Risks in the Workplace.
Page 14 of the NSW Code of Practice for Managing Electrical Risks in the Workplace talks about lower risk environments .... This is their definition …
“Lower-risk workplaces include those workplaces that are dry, clean, well-organised and free of conditions that are likely to result in damage to electrical equipment, for example an office, retail shop, telecommunications centre, classroom, etc. Electrical equipment commonly used in these types of lower-risk workplaces includes computers, photocopiers, stationery or fixed electrical equipment”
The Code then details the inspection and testing requirements in lower risk environments, and this is where it gets confusing as the Code effectively contradicts itself …. ….
“Electrical equipment used in lower-risk operating environments does not require inspection and testing or ‘tagging’. Guidance on inspecting and testing electrical equipment in lower-risk operating environments is included in AS/NZS 3760:2010 In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment (if covered by that Standard) and may also be included in the manufacturer’s recommendations. AS/NZS 3760:2010 sets out indicative inspection and testing intervals for certain electrical equipment, including RCDs, used in a variety of different operating environments”
AS/NZS 3760 does set out the recommended inspect and test intervals, and for lower risk (they call it non-hostile in the Standard) environments the Standard recommends 5 yearly testing.
So, whilst the Code says inspection, testing and tagging is not required, the Code then states you need to refer to AS/NZS 3760 which then recommends 5 yearly testing. Hence, the differences in interpretation of the Code.
That’s not to say a whole corporate office would be subject to 5 yearly testing. There will be some 12 monthly retest environments such as meeting rooms and kitchens, and laptops and shredders etc are mostly naturally deemed 12 monthly retests based on their usage. A risk assessment could also be conducted by a qualified person and then documented should you choose not to inspect and test items that are regularly replaced such as desktop computers.
So why would you do it if it’s not “really” required? (Depending on which sentence you read in the Code of course!) We uncover dangerous items in office environments every day and whilst the % failure rates are comparatively low, the impact of an electric shock in your workplace is significant and wide reaching. The decision on how you interpret the Code is therefore yours to make – Are you prepared to take the risk?
For more information on a comprehensive electrical safety program, please feel free to contact us on 1300 287 669 or by email to [email protected]