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Corded and electric? Test it and tag it with AS/NZS 3760

AS/NZS 3760 – In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment and RCDs can help users keep themselves and their equipment safe while demonstrating compliance with electricity safety regulations.

A test and tag label on the cord of a PC showing dates, status and tester information.

The newly revised standard underpins the testing and tagging of electrical equipment and will supersede AS/NZS 3760:2010 and Amendments 1 and 2 on 24 June 2023.

It was developed by committee EL-036, which consisted of representatives from 15 different organisations across New Zealand and Australia with interests in electrical installation and equipment, health and safety, building services, regulation, manufacturing, hire services, consumer interests and housing.

Committee chair Derek Johns, an electrical engineer who’s been involved in standards development for more than 35 years, helps us better understand why AS/NZS 3760 is important and what changes users can expect.

‘AS/NZS 3760 applies whenever equipment is new and placed into service for the first time, or when it is already in service or available for second-hand sale or hire, and when it has been serviced or repaired.

‘The revision – the first in more than 10 years – builds upon earlier versions and focuses on inspection guidelines and tests for class I and class II appliances, functional earthing, insulation tests, leakage current tests, RCD tripping times, cord sets, and earth continuity resistance.

‘We’ve clarified requirements and definitions in response to new concepts and regulatory changes. We’ve also updated many of the diagrams to show typical use of a portable appliance tester (PAT), changed some notes to normative text, and incorporated guidance on symbols indicating the need to use additional protective equipment.’

Three aspects – safety, EMC and environment

Although there are three main aspects relating to testing of electrical equipment – safety, electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), and environmental performance – the standard concerns only one: safety.

‘Electrical equipment must be safe if it is connected to the electrical installation,’ says Derek. ‘We don’t care what the equipment does or even if it doesn’t work, it just must be safe if it is connected. Experience has shown that more than 90% of defects are detectable by visual inspection, as is often seen with damaged cords. Environmental hazards and degree of abuse the equipment experiences are considered in the testing regime.’

Relevant to everyone

‘While the technical detail in the standard will be of concern to persons responsible for the safety and testing of electrical equipment, the benefits of having safe electrical equipment are relevant to everyone. For example, electrical equipment is found in workplaces like offices, hotels and rentable holiday homes, on construction sites, and at events. So if someone else is going to be using electrical equipment that you’ve provided, you – as the manager, owner or person responsible for the equipment – will need to ensure that it’s safe.

‘AS/NZS 3760 does not cover equipment at point of sale. Rather, the focus is on electrical equipment that is “in service”. While it’s not mandatory to “test and tag” under electricity safety regulations, electrical equipment is generally considered electrically safe if it has a current tag issued in accordance with AS/NZS 3760.’

The same but different

‘New Zealand’s regulatory requirements are sometimes different from Australia’s, so the committee had to overcome a few challenges to reach consensus. Even in Australia, regulations can differ between states. The standard couldn’t be in conflict with any one state’s regulations, so we had to provide different details applicable to each state or country where the standard will be used. This approach meant we could retain the shared practice and knowledge that has gone into the standard without having to move towards ‘dejointing’ it. It’s a solution that is acceptable for third-party assessors and regulators.’

Working for both countries and all users

‘Ultimately, the standard shows how compromise plays a part so that the standard and all the knowledge, guidance and expertise that has gone into it can still work for multiple users’ needs.

‘Everyone had their own viewpoint but was prepared to compromise, which means we’ve come up with something better and workable and which can be built upon in the future. Just imagine the complexity and inefficiency of having multiple standards for each state and New Zealand where there is duplication of overarching advice and guidance. This is where the value of joint standards lies and allows room for necessary regulatory distinctions.’

AS/NZS 3760:2022 – In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment and RCDs is available from our webshop.