NEW technology is helping to cut the cost of workplace compliance testing of portable electrical equipment and leads. Emona Instruments’ Mark Breznik* outlines how this inexpensive technology is applied to help companies self-manage one aspect of workplace safety.
The cost of ensuring that all portable electrical equipment is tested, tagged and records kept can be a considerable overhead for businesses, especially when they have large numbers of appliances or appliances that need to be tested on a regular basis, such as those in manufacturing, construction and mining.
All portable electrical equipment or equipment with a detachable mains cord must be tested for electrical safety, tagged with a durable and permanent tag and records must be kept of who undertook the tests, the test date and the test results.
The procedures for testing are outlined in AS3760:2001. The obligation to test is covered by Occupational Health and Safety regulations in each State.
For example, in NSW the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 2001, Division 8, makes it mandatory that all electrical equipment at the place of work is tested, tagged and records kept.
Similar regulations in other States either explicitly require that electrical equipment is tested and tagged or the requirement is understood within the framework of an employer's responsibility to provide a safe workplace for the employees.
Traditionally testing, tagging and record keeping has been undertaken by external electrical contractors and charges range from $4 to $8 per item.
An alternative approach is to manage the electrical safety testing and record keeping process in-house.
Management can allocate the task to an employee who can be appropriately trained at TAFE, or by a private training provider in an 8-hour course, to perform the workplace electrical safety testing.
Managing the process in-house can be cost effective and provide additional benefits such as improved asset management.
Automated systems generate computer-based asset registers of all electrical articles by site and location and are highly efficient with throughputs of up to 40 tests an hour.
Test tags are fully customised and printed with your own logo, ensuring that assets are identified as belonging to your organisation. Furthermore, tags are inexpensive at around 10 cents each compared to handwritten tags which are typically 40 cents.
In-house printed test tags also include an asset barcode making the next test a breeze by just swiping the bar code with a reader.
An example of an automated AS3760 system is the Seaward ProTag System. This system is distributed by Emona Instruments and comprises the Seaward Supernova XE 3760 Testing Instrument, the ProTag Test Tag Printer, PATGuard record keeping software and a barcode scanner.
The Seaward ProTag system is claimed to be the only system that fully complies with AS3760:2001 in every aspect of the standard and the only system that prints durable vinyl test tags on-site directly from the tester's test results.
The Seaward Supernova tester provides an unambiguous pass/fail status of each item under test and accurately logs all electrical articles on site, making the process a great deal more accountable and traceable.
Each test result is output to the ProTag printer and a customised test tag is printed within seconds.
The test results are then downloaded to PATGuard database management software for test result and asset management.
*Mark Breznik is national marketing manager, Emona Instruments.