Do You Comply?

In-service testing is a necessary part of any safety program to help ensure the safety of persons using electrical equipment in the workplace.
Equipment must be subject to regular testing and inspection to detect obvious damage, wear or other conditions that may render it unsafe.

The Australian Standard that applies to in-service testing (Test and Tag) is “AS/NZS 3760:2010 In-Service Safety Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment”. This standard is not called for by law, but as an Australian Standard it is the minimum legal requirement.
All States and Territories in Australia require compliance to AS/NZS 3760:2010, consequently all have similar rules. Some of the minor variations that exist between States and Territories relate to frequency of testing and who can perform the tests in the Construction, Demolition and Mining industries, while in Queensland testing frequencies are categorized by “Class of Work” rather than “Type of Environment” as they are in all other jurisdictions.
NOTE: Table 4 of AS/NZS 3760:2010 describes frequency of testing based on environment and/or equipment type, and table 2 of section 4 of the “Worksafe Victoria, Industry Standard – Electrical Installations on Construction Sites” describes frequency of test on Construction sites in Victoria.

The Rules
In Victoria the key regulatory authorities are: –
Energy Safe Victoria
Street address: Level 3, 4 Riverside Quay, Southbank, VIC 3006
Postal address: PO Box 262, Collins Street West, VIC 8007
Phone: (03) 9203 9700
Facsimile: (03) 9686 2197
Email: info@esv.vic.gov.au
Website: www.esv.vic.gov.au

Victorian WorkCover Authority
Street address: Level 24, 222 Exhibition Street, Melbourne 3000
Postal address: GPO Box 4306, Melbourne 3001
WorkCover Advisory Service, phone: (03) 9641 1555
Facsimile: (03) 9641 1222
Website: www.workcover.vic.gov.au

The Legislation
The key legislation in Victoria that addresses your legal requirements for testing and tagging is the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Victoria).
The relevant section of the Act is Section 21 “Duties of employers to employees”, which states: –
(1) An employer must, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain for employees of the employer a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.
Penalty: 1800 penalty units for a natural person; 9000 penalty units for a body corporate.

(2) Without limiting sub-section (1), an employer contravenes that sub-section if the employer fails to do any of the following—
(a) provide or maintain plant or systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health; …….

When reading these clauses you need to be aware of a couple of important definitions within the Act: –
Employer” means a person who employs one or more other persons under contracts of employment or contracts of training;
Employee” means a person employed under a contract of employment or contract of training; and
Person” includes a body corporate, unincorporated body or association and a partnership.
You also need to note that “plant or systems” referred to in paragraph 2(a) of section 21 of the Act mentioned above includes electrical equipment and appliances.
Put simply, what the above clauses and definitions means is that, if you or your business employs anyone, in order to ensure that the electrical equipment in your workplace is safe and without risk to health, your minimum legal requirement is to comply with the requirements of the applicable Australian Standard, which in this case is AS/NZS 3760:2010.

What This Means for You
The value of a Penalty Unit as of the 1st of July 2017 is $158.57.  This means that if an employer is found guilty of failing to provide a safe workplace that results in injury (or worse), an Individual could face fines up to $285,426 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years, while a Body Corporate could face fines up to $1,427,130.

More Legislation
If you want to dig a bit deeper, here are some links to the key pieces of legislation for Victoria: –

Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
Electricity Safety (Equipment) Regulations 2009
Electricity Safety Act 1998
Electricity Safety (Installations) Regulations 2009

The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, which attempts to create consistency in OHS regulations across Australia, has been enacted in TAS, NSW, ACT, QLD, SA, and NT. WA is also expected adopt the model WHS legislation. However, the Victorian government has stated that it will not be adopting the WHS legislation.