PCBUs, employers, and workers who work with electricity are to refer to the Managing electrical risks in the workplace - Code of Practice for guidance. A building and construction industry guideline is also available to provide practical guidance on the safety requirements for electrical practices on construction and demolition sites.

Employers and PCBUs must ensure:

  • workers and other persons are not exposed to electrical risks, as far as is reasonably practicable
  • Residual Current Devices (RCDs) are used in specified high risk environments
  • electrical installation work is carried out by a qualified electrician and that testing and compliance requirements are met.

Risks

When working with electricity workers are at risk of:

  • electric shock
  • arcing
  • explosion
  • fire
  • release of toxic gases and contaminants.

Employers can minimise risks by:

  • identifying the risks
  • determining the level of risk to workers and others
  • deciding what needs to be done and implementing risk controls
  • reviewing the risk controls - to make sure they are working as planned.

Managing electrical equipment and installations

Tools, instruments, equipment and PPE must be selected to be suitable for purpose and must be inspected regularly and maintained according to manufacturer's instructions. Workers conducting inspection, testing and maintenance must be suitably trained and competent to undertake those tasks.

Equipment used for detecting an energised source should be trialled, immediately before and after the testing, to ensure that it is functioning correctly.

A business needs to ensure that:

  • power circuits are protected by appropriately rated fuses or circuit breakers
  • electrical leads are not arranged so that they are easily damaged, run across floors or doorways, or over sharp edges
  • only leads and tools designed for wet or damp conditions are used in those conditions
  • circuits where portable equipment may be connected are protected by RCDs
  • if any current protective device (RCD or circuit breaker) is triggered, the system is not re-energised until the reason has been identified by a competent person
  • equipment identified as unsafe is disconnected or isolated and labelled as unsafe and not reconnected until it is repaired and tested as being safe
  • regular visual inspections and testing of electrical equipment, including RCDs, occurs. The nature and frequency of inspection and testing will vary depending on the electrical risks.

Testing frequency

Portable/specified electrical equipment Type 1 or 2 safety switch (RCD) (fixed) Type 1 or 2 safety switch (portable)

At least 3 monthly intervals by a competent person

Use the inbuilt test button (at least monthly)

An operating time/current test by a competent person at least annually

Use the inbuilt test button – immediately after it is connected and immediately before it used, first time each day

By a competent person, at least every 3 months

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.

Refer to the Managing electrical risks in the workplace - Code of Practice for more information on electrical testing.

Managing the risks

Electrical work must only be carried out by a competent and trained licensed electrician. A risk assessment should be completed prior to initiation of electrical work.

As a general principle, electrical work should not be carried out on energised equipment or cables. Equipment should be tested to determine that it is not energised before work starts and procedures are in place to prevent inadvertent re-energising while work is being undertaken.

The safe work principle TEST FOR 'DEAD' BEFORE YOU TOUCH must be applied at all times.

Energised electrical work

Energised electrical work must only be undertaken where it is absolutely necessary, and must not be carried out merely because it is convenient.

Work on energised equipment requires systematic risk assessment, planning and preparation. It should only be undertaken by an electrician with the necessary competency, training, tools, testing equipment and personal protective equipment suitable for the work.

Energised work should only be carried out according to a safe work method statement prepared after consultation with relevant workers and Health and Safety Representatives, and with a safety observer present. The person acting as safety observer must be competent to implement identified emergency control measures, rescue and if necessary resuscitate the electrical worker. Safety observers must not have other duties assigned to them while they are observing.

Safety barriers and signs should be considered to protect electrical workers from inadvertent contact with energised parts and warn and direct other persons away from any area where energised work is being undertaken.

Page last updated: 10 March 2020