Edition 64, January/February 2009

New regulations on testing and tagging on construction sites in WA

Changes to Occupational Health and Safety regulations in Western Australia (WA) have come into effect that allow the testing and tagging of portable electrical equipment and portable residual current devices (RCDs) on construction and demolition sites to be undertaken by a competent person or a licensed electrician.

To assist in effecting this new regulation, the WA Department of Consumer and Employment Protection has produced the document Guide to testing and tagging portable electrical equipment and residual current devices at workplaces.

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 (employer, self-employed person, main contractor) must ensure that all portable plug-in electrical equipment and RCDs at the workplace are safe and appropriately inspected, tested and maintained by a competent person.

Listed below are extracts from the guide that outline who is permitted to perform the tests:

Who may test electrical equipment?

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 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 (e.g. licensed electrician using an insulation resistance meter and ohmmeter).


  • The second is where a person not qualified in electrical work uses a pass´┐Żfail 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.

Who may test RCDs?

The test for the operating time of an RCD requires specific technical expertise and interpretation of results and, therefore, can only be carried out by an appropriately qualified or trained person. This means a licensed electrician or a person who has successfully completed a competency-assessed training course in the use of an RCD tester. The course needs to have been conducted by an RTO, accredited to deliver the training under the vocational education and training (VET) system.

For more information and to download the guide visit www.commerce.wa.gov.au/WorkSafe/Content/Safety_Topics/Electricity/

This page was generated on 26 August, 2009