Schools Leaders must ensure all electrical hazards within their school are identified and suitably controlled; this can be carried out via regular workplace inspections, risk assessments and maintenance regimes. It is important that employees and / or health and safety representatives are consulted in the process when conducting risk assessments and workplace inspections.
Electrical hazards are present across all areas of a school, but some areas have greater risks and are deemed high risk areas. High risk areas are parts of a school where electrical equipment could be exposed to moisture, heat, vibration, mechanical damage, corrosive chemicals and dust, and require the highest order controls. Some examples are:
- playgrounds, sports ovals and basketball/netball courts
- science laboratories
- food technology classrooms or canteens
- maintenance sheds
- wood or metal workshops.
Testing and Tagging
Regular testing and tagging must be carried out on all electrical equipment, and needs to be scheduled in by school leaders (see frequency below). Testing and tagging needs to be carried out by a competent person, who is either a licensed electrician or an individual that has completed UEENEEP026A – Conduct in-service safety testing of electrical cord connected equipment and cord assemblies.
Frequency of testing and tagging will be in line with AS 3760:2010 – In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment, which outlines the following regarding frequency:
- 12 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.
- 5 years 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.
Residual Current Devices (RCD) more commonly known as safety switches are to be tested and tagged on a case by case basis as per AS/NZS 3760. The timeframes for RCDs usually vary between 3, 6 and 12 months and 2 years.
Any personal electrical equipment brought into a school must be tested and tagged prior to its use, unless less than 12 months old and in this case should have a New to Service tag affixed (see below).
All schools have a responsibility to ensure that records of testing and tagging are kept in a register
Any new equipment purchased must be approved according to the relevant electrical safety standard, and thus does not need to be tested and tagged until the next round of testing.
So that it can be identified as a new piece of equipment that is safe for use, a “New to Service” tag should be affixed. The New to Service tag needs to be completed with the name of the person affixing the tag, date the equipment was introduced to service and date its first test is due
Double Adaptors and Power Boards
Due to the risk associated with their use, double adapters should not be used within schools under any circumstances. Where it has been identified that existing power points are insufficient, additional power points should be installed or power boards used.
When a power board is used it must have a residual current device (RCD) or safety switch built in, and where possible be used as a short-term control until additional power points can be installed. DO NOT ‘piggy back’ or ‘daisy chain’ power boards, as this will lead to overloading
Faulty or Damaged Equipment
When electrical equipment is faulty or damaged it should be pulled from use, have the end of the cord cut off, have an “Out of Service” tag placed onto the equipment with details of actions to be taken and arrangements made for its repair or disposal (if repaired, arrange for testing and tagging prior to use).
If equipment is to be repaired, it should only be repaired by either a licensed electrician, the equipment manufacturer or an authorised agent
One way schools can ensure that electrical equipment stored and / or used on-site poses no risk to the safety of staff, students, volunteers, contractors and visitors is by conducting regular (recommend biannual) workplace inspections.