Electricity is a primary form of energy. It can shock, burn, damage nerves and internal organs and can kill people. The effect of electricity on the body depends on the magnitude and duration of exposure to the current, the path of the current through the body and the impedance (resistance) of the body.
When electricity flows through a conductive material such as electrical wire, heat is produced. With proper design and compliance with codes and wiring systems devices will have resistance low enough that current-carrying parts and connections should not overheat. However, if there is a poor circuit connection, an overload of current or a fault in the circuit, electricity can escape from the circuit and cause cable heating, distortion and fires.
For these reasons, all electrical equipment and installations used within a DEECD workplace must meet the highest standards of safety. The regular scheduled testing of all electrical equipment and installations and the tagging out of any equipment found to be deficient will ensure ongoing safety.
There are different test scheduling requirements for different types of equipment:
- Switch boards with Residual Current Device (RCD) installations must be tested every 6 months;
- Hand held power tools, soldering irons, vacuum cleaners, welding machines which are regularly plugged in and unplugged require testing every 12 months; and
- Other appliances such as fridges, computers and stoves which are rarely, if ever unplugged, require testing every 5 years.
Where/when will these issues be relevant?
Electrical hazards are located throughout DEECD workplaces. Examples include:
- Electrical equipment in kitchens, offices, classrooms, gyms, toilets, workshops, computer rooms, libraries and art rooms;
- Installations such as switchboards and electrical circuits; and
- Restricted areas such as plant and lift motor rooms.
Electrical risks can increase depending on the environment in which they are located. For example, fixed equipment that is not moved is less risky than equipment used in hazardous environments such as workshops.
What do I need to do?
- Consult with Health and Safety Representatives (HSR) and employees;
- Create a register of all electrical equipment on site using the Electrical Equipment Register (Word - 433Kb);
- Establish and implement and inspection and testing program in accordance with legal requirements for all portable electrical equipment and make sure that completed inspections are recorded in the register. Make note of defective, repaired or replaced equipment;
- Establish and implement an inspection and testing program for electrical switchboards (RCDs);
- Ensure that a system is in place for the tagging and removal/repair of faulty equipment;
- Ensure that any electrical equipment that has been serviced or repaired is tested prior to being placed back into service;
- Ensure only competent persons such as licensed electricians perform electrical work; and
- Testing work can be done by people deemed “competent”.
For information as to the training requirements contact DEECD OHS Advisory Service on 1300 074 715.
Legislation, Guidance or Codes of Practice
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007
Electrical Safety Act 1998
Code of Practice for Safe Electrical Low Voltage Installations 1997
AS/NZS 3760:2003 In service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment.
Electrical Equipment Procedure (PDF - 161Kb)
Electrical Equipment Register (Word - 433Kb)
Isolation and Tag Out Procedure (PDF - 363Kb)
Tag Out Register (Word - 425Kb)
DEECD OHS Advisory Service on 1300 074 715
DEECD Regional OHS/WorkSafe Advisors
Energy Safe Victoria