The New Zealand National Committee (NZNC), the NZ member body of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), recently hosted the 97th meeting of technical committee TC 61 Safety of household and similar electrical appliances. This technical committee is one of the largest committees in the IEC and is responsible for the IEC 60335 series of standards concerning the safety of electrical appliances for household and similar use including commercial use. It is also responsible for the standard concerning the safety of electric toys. The meeting was held in Wellington from 14 to 18 May and was attended by 91 delegates representing 23 countries. TC 61 has met in New Zealand twice previously (Rotorua in December 1986 and Christchurch in December 1995).
The main topics under consideration were changed requirements that will lead to a new edition of IEC 60335-1, which is targeted for publication at the end of 2019. The new edition of this standard will have far-reaching consequences for the safety of electrical appliances for manufacturers, users, and government regulators responsible for safety worldwide. The changed requirements covered in part:
- safety-related aspects of electronic controls that govern the operation of energy-consuming components so as to reduce appliance energy use without loss of performance
- cybersecurity aspects for appliances incorporating facilities for remote communication over public networks
- safety aspects relating to battery-operated appliances with particular emphasis on battery management of incorporated metal-ion batteries.
Other topics covered included reducing the accessible surface-temperature limits of specific appliances to help protect children from burns if they come into contact with an appliance. In conjunction with this aspect, enhanced protection against access to hazardous live parts and hazardous moving parts are also being applied by the use of test probes representing fingers of young children and in some cases very young children.
Prior to the TC 61 meeting, two working groups met. The first working group is responsible for the ongoing development of temperature limits and resistance to heat and fire for appliances in general. The second working group was set up to investigate methods for reducing the contribution of refrigerating appliances to building fires that have caused fatalities in many countries. The working group expects that the outcome of its investigation will result in major design changes for these appliances.
Following the TC 61 meeting the editing group met in Christchurch to prepare the technical documents for the next stages in their progression to publication as international standards. Most will proceed to a voting stage and some will proceed direct to publication. The work of this group is very important for international acceptance of the standards. The documents are required to be drafted in English in a structure that aids translation into other languages without confusion while retaining the technical intent.
Standards New Zealand takes this opportunity to thank WorkSafe New Zealand – Energy Safety, Electrical Consultancy Services, Gallagher Group Ltd, and Tru-Test Ltd for providing the finance that enabled the meetings to proceed.