Test & Tagging, Fire Safety & ESM's
What is testing & tagging?
The first step is the testing. This is the process of inspecting plugin electrical equipment to ensure that safety meets the required Australian Standards.
Next is the application of a tag to the electrical equipment or cord, that states the date it was tested, whether it passed or failed and if passed a required retest date. If the electrical equipment was faulty or failed the testing process, we would either repair it or mark it with a failed tag and advise the appropriate next steps, this may be to repair or replace the equipment. Typical examples of electrical equipment being tested are:
- Computers, printers and other office equipment.
- Phone, tablet and laptop chargers.
- Power tools, battery chargers, workshop machinery.
- Extension leads and powerboards.
- Kitchen appliances.
- AV and data projection equipment, lighting and sound gear.
- Basically anything that plugs in to a power circuit.
What type of business does testing & tagging apply to?
All businesses that use plugin electrical equipment require some form of testing & tagging, these include:
- Schools, TAFEs, universities, kindergartens, child care centres. • Offices, shops, retail stores. • Hospitality venues (cafes, restaurants, bars, etc). • Medical centres (doctors, dentists, hospitals, vets, etc). • Trades (builders, plumbers, painters, tilers, landscapers, etc). • Building / construction sites. • Warehouses, workshops and manufacturing facilities. • Hire shops, second hand shops. • Plus your business type (if not covered above).
Why testing & tagging?
Occupational Health and Safety (OHS / WHS) legislation imposes a duty of care for the business owner, manager or OHS representative to provide a safe workplace. Failure to ensure the safety of electrical equipment may result in death or injury to you, your staff or customers. It may also result in hefty fines to both individuals and businesses. To discharge this duty of care the business owner, manager or OHS representative is required to reduce the risk of electrical shock or fire as far as practicable. Regular testing & tagging of electrical equipment, in line with the Australian Standards* is the best method of achieving this. The need for businesses to conduct regular electrical equipment testing & tagging has been highlighted by WorkSafe inspectors inspecting all types of businesses, not just tradespeople. Some insurance companies now require electrical equipment to be tested & tagged otherwise they may refuse insurance, reduce or void a claim. Correctly tagged electrical equipment not only gives confidence to the WorkSafe inspector or insurance assessor, it demonstrates to your staff and customers that you care about their wellbeing. Testing & tagging is about safety, compliance and minimising litigation.
Our testing & tagging process:
- A visual inspection is performed to identify any obvious defects.
- Electrical tests are performed using a state-of-the-art Seaward Portable Appliance Tester (PAT) with pre-set tolerances, thus ensuring integrity in the process and compliance with Australian Standards*.
- A computer generated tag is printed, and you are provided with an asset register and electrical test results reports for your records.
- We provide a complimentary reminder service to assist you in easily managing this area of OHS compliance.
How often do I need my electrical equipment retested?
The retest frequency varies from business to business based on the business type and hostility / harshness of the work environment. The Australian Standards* list the testing / retesting frequency for electrical equipment and the more hostile the environment the more frequently they are to be tested. Retesting could be every 1, 3, 6 or 12 months and up to 5 years for computer server equipment. Computers and other Technology: Although all care is taken when testing computers and other technological equipment and the testing process itself is not harmful to these items, in very very rare cases it is possible that technological equipment that may not regularly get turned off (eg: computers, servers, etc…) may not restart / function properly after shutdown. We have only seen this occur twice in many years of testing and that was two out of thousands of these type of items tested. We believe it’s important for you to know this up front and if you have any concerns regarding specific equipment please discuss these with us prior to commencement. *Applicable Australian Standards:
- AS/NZS 3760 – In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment. • AS/NZS 3012 – Electrical installations – construction and demolition sites.
Exit & Emergency light testing
What is exit & emergency lighting? Exit & emergency lighting is the backup lighting system that is required in many buildings that assists you, your staff and customers to exit the building in case of a power failure or fire. The exit & emergency lighting system has batteries designed to run these lights for a minimum of 90 minutes in an emergency. Exit & emergency lighting is part of the Essential Safety Measures. Who is responsible for maintaining the exit and emergency lighting system? Maintenance and testing of the exit & emergency lighting system is generally the responsibility of the building owner, the landlord, however occasionally this responsibility sits with the tenant (refer to your lease). If you are a tenant in a building (office, shop, factory, etc) that has exit & emergency lights installed, please don’t just expect that the landlord has this covered. If there is an emergency and someone gets injured you may still be liable if you have ignored this area of compliance. How often do exit & emergency lights have to be tested? It is a legal requirement that exit and emergency lights be inspected and tested every 6 months. It is also a legal requirement for the building owner, property manager or tenants to ensure that the ‘Paths of travel’ (paths that lead to and through the emergency exits) are inspected every 3 months and kept clear from obstructions. Our exit & emergency light testing process:
- A building inspection is performed to locate all exit & emergency lights for log booking – performed on first visit and details entered into a log book.
- Each 6 months a visual inspection and push test is performed on each exit & emergency light.
- Faulty globes are replaced as required.
- The mains power is switched off to the exit & emergency lights and a 90 minute battery test is commenced.
- Cleaning of lights and diffusers is conducted as required.
- Periodic inspections to identify any batteries not lasting the 90 minutes.
- At completion of 90 minutes the mains power is reinstated and the exit & emergency lights are inspected to ensure recharging has begun.
- Inspection results are recorded in the log book and any required repairs are discussed with you and further actions agreed.
Note: The Australian Standards* state any newly installed exit & emergency lights or batteries must be tested to ensure battery duration lasts for 120 minutes. *Applicable Australian Standards:
- AS/NZS 2293.2 – Emergency lighting testing & inspection.
Fire Services we sell and install portable fire extinguishers & fire blankets.
We also perform the regular inspections and tagging of fire extinguishers, fire blankets and fire hose reels. Fire services are part of the Essential Safety Measures. How often do fire extinguishers & fire blankets need to be serviced? It is a legal requirement that portable fire extinguishers, fire blankets and fire hose reels be inspected and tagged every 6 months. Portable fire extinguishers are required to be emptied, pressure tested and refilled every 5 years (see our exchange program below). Our fire services inspection and tagging procedure:
- Visual inspection of the fire extinguisher / fire blanket, including mounting and signage – rectify as required.
- Cleaning and inspection of fire extinguisher / fire blanket in line with Australian Standards*.
- If equipment passes the inspection – date stamping of ID tag.
- Completion of the fire services report.
Our fire extinguisher exchange program: At 5 years of age instead of a pressure test service, we have an arrangement with our supplier to do an exchange for a new fire extinguisher for the same price. The benefits to you:
- A new fire extinguisher comes with a 5 years warranty.
- A new fire extinguisher is guaranteed to be 100% effective (re-assembled units may only be 80% effective).
- An exchange program that means you are never without a fire extinguisher.
- A simple peace of mind process.
- Fire extinguishers must be refilled or exchanged, if partially or fully discharged within the 5 year period.
- Fire blankets must be disposed of and replaced after use on a fire.
*Applicable Australian Standards:
- AS/NZS 1841.1 – portable fire extinguishers – general requirements.
- AS/NZS 2444 – portable fire extinguishers and fire blankets – selection and location.
- AS/NZS 1851 – routine service of fire protection systems and equipment.
Essential Safety measures (ESM’S) What does Essential Safety Measures mean?
Essential Safety Measures (ESM) describes the safety systems incorporated into a building during its design and construction. ESM maintenance ensures that important safety systems within the building remain at the required operational level throughout the life of the building. What building types do Essential Safety Measures apply to? All buildings other than a house or outbuilding have some form of Essential Safety Measures compliance. The requirements vary based on type, size and the age of the building.
What is included as an Essential Safety Measure?
Essential Safety Measures include but are not limited to:
- Air handling systems.
- Exit & emergency lighting systems.
- Fire services – fire blankets, extinguishers, hose reels, etc.
- Fire doors and fire rated constructions.
- Paths of travel.
- Smoke & fire detection systems.
- Sprinkler systems.
- Plus many more.
NOTE: we do not offer the above greyed out services.
The applicable Essential Safety Measures for your building are listed in the occupancy certificate or certificate of final inspection for building built or renovated after 1st July 1994. For buildings built prior to July 1994 a determination by a building surveyor may be required to identify what ESM’s are applicable.
How often do Essential Safety Measures need to be inspected?
The retest time varies based on the particular Essential Safety Measures, below is an indication based on the services we offer:
- Paths of travel = 3 monthly
- Exit & emergency lighting = 6 monthly
- Fire services (extinguishers, blankets, hose reels) = 6 monthly
- Smoke detectors = 6 monthly * other essential Safety Measures have inspection periods ranging from weekly to monthly or 3, 6 or 12 monthly.
Who is responsible to ensure Essential Safety Measures are maintained?
It is the responsibility of the Building Owner or appointed Property Manager to ensure that Essential Safety measures are maintained in accordance with the building codes and Australian Standards.
Are there penalties for non-compliance of Essential Safety Measures?
Non-compliance may result in an infringement notice being issued by Council or the Fire Authority with applicable fines. Non-compliance may also result in prosecution with fines for each breach over $17,000 for individuals and over $88,000 for companies. More importantly non-compliance could put people at risk and may result in your insurance being voided or a reduced payout in the event of a claim. As a Building Owner or Property Manager what do I have to do? As a building owner or property manager you are required to ensure that:
1. The applicable Essential Safety Measures have been identified for the building (refer to the occupancy certificate, certificate of final inspection or determination).
2. You have engaged qualified and experienced contractors to undertake maintenance of (inspection, testing and repairs) and reporting on each of the ESMs for the building. 3. Ensure that the Annual Essential Safety Measures Report is completed and submitted to the VBA.