Testing and Tagging Guidelines

The Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (OSH Act) and Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 require electrical equipment at workplaces to be safe and not expose workers to hazards.

As prescribed by the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 and Mines Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995, the person having control of a workplace or access to that workplace, i.e. employer, self-employed person, main contractor, must ensure that all portable plug-in electrical equipment and residual current devices (RCDs) at the workplace are safe and appropriately inspected, tested and maintained by a competent person.

A competent person must undertake the testing of electrical equipment. This is a person who has acquired, through training, qualification or experience, or a combination of these, the knowledge and skills required to test electrical equipment competently.

The testing of electrical equipment requires specific expertise and interpretation of results and, therefore, can only be carried out by appropriately qualified or trained people who are able to recognise electrical hazards or potentially unsafe conditions.

The person carrying out the tests must know what to:

  • look at;
  • look for; and
  • do.

The two levels of competency associated with this type of work are summarised below.

  • The first is where a licensed electrician with electrical qualifications and skills uses electrical test instruments that give actual readings requiring technical interpretation (eg. licensed electrician using an insulation resistance meter and ohmmeter).
  • The second is where a person not qualified in electrical work uses a pass–fail type of electrical test instrument known as a portable appliance tester (PAT), which automatically tests electrical equipment plugged into it. The result requires no technical interpretation. In this case, the person would need to have been trained and have satisfactorily completed a competency-assessed training course on testing and tagging using a PAT.

The course needs to have been conducted by a registered training organisation accredited to deliver the training under the vocational education and training (VET) system.

For more information please see the full Guide to testing and tagging portable electrical equipment and residual current devices at workplaces on the Department of Commerce website.