Electricity Safety Regulations 2010 Standards for hazardous areas and electromedical equipment

The Electrical (Safety) Regulations 2010 specify the requirements that electricians working in hazardous areas and electromedical installations need to meet, and the penalties for non-compliance have increased.

Electricians, technicians, and people working in hazardous areas and with electromedical installations must comply with specific Standards.

Hazardous areas

The new Electrical (Safety) Regulations 2010 emphasise Standards that must be used in hazardous areas. These Standards cover how to reduce hazards. The regulations require that:

  • all electrical equipment used in a hazardous zone and all electrical installations in hazardous areas must comply with a hazardous area protection technique as outlined in AS/NZS 60079.14:2009 Explosive atmospheres – Electrical installations design, selection and erection
  • initial and in-service inspections of hazardous area installations must comply with AS/NZS 60079.17:2009 Explosive atmospheres – Electrical installations inspection and maintenance
  • if the owner, occupier, or controller of a property (for example a coolstore or coalmine) is using materials that create a hazard, the owner is responsible for establishing hazardous zones using AS/NZS 60079.10.1:2009 Explosive atmospheres – Classification of areas – Explosive gas atmospheres.

'Common problem areas are where people haven't applied the principles of these Standards to establish a hazardous zone or to comply with a hazardous area protection technique,' says Garry House, Chair of the Hazardous Areas Electrotechnical Coordinating Committee and a member of the joint Australian/New Zealand committee responsible for hazardous areas Standards.

'There have been several high profile hazardous area accidents and incidents in New Zealand recently and it is thought that if the relevant Standards were followed correctly, these accidents and incidents may not have occurred,' says Garry.

'Other problem areas include hot work permits and people carrying out processes or procedures in a hazardous area who are not aware of the hazards in the area of installation, such as taking a cell phone into a dangerous goods store.'

Electromedical Standards

The new Electrical (Safety) Regulations 2010 include strict requirements about installation wiring in hospitals, doctors' surgeries, dental surgeries, physiotherapy rooms, home dialysing areas, and in all other areas where patients are treated with electromedical equipment.

Electricians who work on new and existing installations and clinical engineering specialists that maintain electromedical equipment, and hospital managers, doctors, dentists, and physiotherapists who are building new areas and running them, need to use the following Standards, which are cited in the regulations.

  • AS/NZS 3000:2007 Electrical installations (known as the Australian/New Zealand Wiring Rules) refers to electromedical Standards and special wiring for patient areas.
  • AS/NZS 3003 Electrical installations – Patient areas of hospitals, medical and dental practices and dialyzing locations (under revision). People working in hospital areas, doctor surgeries, dentists, and physiotherapist rooms need to be aware that equipment is to be used in patient treatment areas as established in this Standard.
  • AS/NZS 3551 Technical management programs for medical devices (under revision). This Standard covers the whole life cycle of medical equipment use, from procurement to disposal, and includes maintenance.
  • NZS 6115:2006 Electrical installations – Mobile electro-medical connectable installations. This Standard covers mobile medical installations including dental, portable X-ray units, and breast screening equipment.
  • AS/NZS 2500:2004 Guide to the safe use of electricity in patient care (revision to be started later in 2010).

'These Standards ensure consistency of installations for patient treatment and standardisation of requirements for electromedical equipment, which provides a recognised, safe outcome,' says Tony Blackler, Chair of the Electromedical Coordinating Committee and a member of joint committees responsible for electromedical topics.

'People may not be fully aware of the content of these Standards,' says Tony. 'There is a need for greater awareness of these Standards in the whole area of clinical service delivery – from optometrists to podiatrists to operating theatres.'

If you think you have a hazardous area or you are working in an electromedical field, please contact Standards New Zealand for more information about the relevant Standards, email enquiries@standards.co.nz, or call 0800 782 632 during business hours.

Standards referred to in the regulations

Schedule 2 of the Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010 lists the official Standards referred to in the regulations, compliance with some of which is compulsory and some of which are recognised by the regulators as a means of compliance. These Standards include AS/NZS 60079.14:2009, AS/NZS 60079.17:2009, AS/NZS 2500:2004, AS/NZS 3003 (under revision), and AS/NZS 3551 (under revision).

Schedule 4 of the Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010 lists a large number of recognised Standards generally covering appliances, fixtures, fittings, medial equipment, luminaires, lighting, and electric tools. These Standards include those in the IEC 60601 medical electrical equipment series and their AS/NZS 3200 adoptions.

All Standards referred to in Schedule 2 and Schedule 4 of the Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010 are available from Standards New Zealand.

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