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Electrical safety

Electricity has the potential to cause serious injury or death from damaged or faulty electrical equipment.

This page provides general information on electrical safety in the workplace. For specific information relating to the construction industry please see our electrical standards for the construction industry page.

Code of Practice

The Code of Practice Managing electrical risks in the workplace provides practical guidance for persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) on managing electrical risks in the workplace. It applies to all workplace where a PCBU:

  • has management or control of electrical equipment, including electrical installations, or
  • carries out electrical work on or near energised electrical equipment, including electrical installations.

Inspection and testing

If you are a PCBU you must make sure that electrical equipment is regularly inspected and tested by a competent person if the electrical equipment is:

  • supplied with electricity through an electrical socket outlet; and
  • used in an environment which exposes the equipment to operating conditions that are likely to result in damage to the equipment or a reduction in its expected life span, including conditions that involve exposure to moisture, heat, vibration, mechanical damage, corrosive chemicals or dust.

A competent person is someone who has acquired, through training, qualification or experience, the knowledge and skills to carry out the task. This could be a worker at your workplace who has completed a nationally accredited training course, run by a registered training organisation, on the use of a portable appliance tester for in-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment. A licensed electrical worker is deemed to be competent for the purpose of electrical inspection and testing.

You must not use any electrical equipment that has not been tested. The exception is newly-purchased electrical equipment, straight out of the box. This equipment is deemed to have been tested but needs to indicate the next due date for testing.

We regularly check that electrical testing requirements are being met.

Testing frequency

Most workplaces will have different testing frequencies based on their own risk and work health and safety management and planning. The class of work and the risks associated with the use of specified electrical equipment will determine how often equipment is tested.

Guidance on general inspecting and testing of electrical equipment is included in AS/NZS 3760 In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment, and may also be included in the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Guidance on inspecting and testing of electrical equipment specifically when used on construction and demolition sites is included in AS/NZS 3012 Electrical installations – Construction and demolition sites.

AS/NZS 3760 and AS/NZS 3012 set out indicative inspection and testing intervals for certain electrical equipment, including residual current devices (RCDs), used in a variety of different operating environments. Relevant technical reference on the frequency is outlined in the table below.

Type of environment and/or equipment Intervals between inspections and tests
Construction and demolition sites 3 months
Factories, workshops, places of manufacture, assembly, maintenance of fabrication 6 months
Environment where the equipment or supply flexible cord is subject to flexing in normal use OR is open to abuse OR is in a hostile environment 12 months
Environment where the equipment or supply cord is not subject to flexing in normal use and is not open to abuse and is not in a hostile environment 5 years
Residential type areas of hotels, residential institutions, motels, boarding houses, halls, hostels, accommodation houses and the like 2 years
Equipment used for commercial cleaning 6 months
Hire equipment:
  1. Inspections
  2. Test and tag
  1. prior to hire
  2. 3 months
Repaired, serviced and second-hand equipment After each repair or service which could affect electrical safety, or prior to reintroduction to service

Record keeping

You must ensure that you keep a record of any testing of electrical equipment until the next test or until the equipment is permanently removed from the workplace or disposed of.

A record must specify:

  • the name of the person carrying out the testing
  • the date of the testing
  • the outcome of the testing
  • the date on which the next testing can be carried out.

This record can be in the form of a tag attached to the electrical equipment, however, other methods such as logbooks, a register or computerised database can also be used.

Further reading

Electricity - OHS Body of Knowledge

Arc Flash - OHS Body of Knowledge