Electrical safety instruction

Instruction statement

To ensure the safety of all RMIT staff members, contractors and students who use electrical equipment and appliances or who may be exposed to electrical hazards. This instruction covers the requirements associated with electrical safety and explains how to maintain electrical equipment in a safe manner, how to deal with defective electrical equipment and electrical incidents.

The instruction applies to all staff, students, visitors and contractors where electrical safety is of concern.


This instruction does not refer to RMIT’s leased desktop computers unless they are considered to be in a hostile environment that would expose them to damage (refer definitions). The University’s leased computers are uniformly tagged and turned over every three years, which is within the five-year time frame that would require electrical testing. A University database is maintained of all leased computers. Leased lap top computers are considered to be used in a hostile environment (cords subject to flexing) and should be tested and tagged in accordance with these instructions.

This instruction does not cover the testing of three-phase electrical equipment or any other piece of equipment that is hard wired or fixed. Electrical equipment that fits into this category can ONLY be tested or repaired by a licensed electrician.

Instruction steps and actions

Requirements and responsibilities

Managers/supervisors are responsible for ensuring:

  • Ensure that University owed electrical equipment within their control is tested and tagged in accordance with AS/NZS 3760.
  • Risk Assessments are conducted on Electrical Equipment and their use. See Risk Assessment Template.
  • Relevant staff members and students receive appropriate electrical safety training and perform duties according to safe work instructions.All portable electrical equipment and appliances are regularly inspected, tested and tagged in accordance with AS 3760 2003. A register should be kept by the local area which includes:
    • Type of equipment
    • Location (Building, Level, Room)
    • Frequency of the tests required
    • Dates of the last tests and next tests due
    • A serial or barcode ID number

NB: Some authorised contractors who conduct testing and tagging at RMIT will automatically set up this register on a database when equipment is initially tested and tagged. A soft ware program to manage this database can be stored and located on a nominated PC in your area.

  • Electrical equipment shall be inspected and tested and tagged at intervals not exceeding those specified in supporting document – Testing Intervals for Electrical Equipment.
  • All electrical appliances are maintained in a good safe working condition and maintenance records are kept. Refer to supporting documents.
  • All new equipment must comply with AS 3760 and a new service tag applied, which will cover the initial testing cycle of that piece of equipment. The new service tag will indicate:
    • Date of new to service tag applied and equipment inspected
    • Date when first test is due
    • Person or company who tagged the equipment
    • Identification/ ID barcode number

NB All purpose built portable electrical appliances or modifications to existing appliances must be done by a qualified licensed electrician must comply to AS 3760 and be tested and tagged in accordance with AS 3760 and comply to the relevant standards and accompanied by a certificate of safety/compliance.

  • Faulty equipment is tagged “DO NOT USE” and such equipment is taken out of service and is not operated or used. Refer to supporting documents.
  • All electrical power outlets (GPO’S) are regularly inspected (Refer to RMIT Workplace Inspection Checklist) and any faults reported immediately to Property Services.
  • Facilities are regularly inspected in accordance with RMIT Electrical Safety Audit Checklist.

Testing Options

Schools /Service units can either:

  • Train Staff as “competent person” in the testing procedure and do the testing “in house” either through purchasing or hiring the equipment and maintaining records/data bases of equipment tested.
  • Use an approved contractor to test and tag and set up register.

Visual inspection checks prior to use and tagging

The following equipment checks shall be made by visual/physical inspection testing before use:

  • Check that the equipment is free from external damage
  • Check for any damage or component defects in the accessories, connectors, plugs or outlet sockets.
  • Check that flexible cords are effectively anchored.
  • Check that the inner cores of flexible supply cords are not exposed or twisted.
  • Check that the external sheaths are not cut, abraded, twisted, or damaged to such an extent that the insulation of the inner core is visible.
  • Check that any controls are in good working order (i.e. they are secure, aligned and appropriately identified).
  • Check that covers, guards are in place and secured in the manner intended by the manufacturer, supplier.
  • Power and extension cords are separated from other hazards such as liquids, mechanical action or traffic areas.

Property services

  • Is responsible for the maintenance, service and records of electrical systems under their control e.g. hard wired RCD’s and electrical equipment, such as hand dryers and AV equipment, in Property Services managed spaces.

Staff, students and contractors are required to:

  • Exercise care when working with electricity, electrical equipment and appliances
  • Follow Safe Work Instructions
  • Not use equipment or appliances, which are faulty or have not been tested and tagged in accordance with AS 3760 2003
  • Report all faulty equipment to their supervisor/manager
  • Ensure double adaptors are not used
  • Report all incidents in accordance with RMIT Hazard and incident, investigation and reporting procedure.
  • Visually inspect appliances before use. e.g. check flexible cords for damage; wires not cut or exposed etc. Ensure external components are not damaged and covers, guards, control switches, alarms or mechanical safety features are in good working order.
  • Check to ensure power and extension cords, EPOD and portable RCD are not exposed to other hazards such as water, vehicular traffic, pedestrian traffic, chemicals or mechanical action.
  • Ensure that power outlets and power boards (EPOD) are not overloaded.
  • Ensure that all EPOD have a thermal protection/overload cut out switch.
  • Present all staff owned electrical equipment to be used at RMIT for testing and tagging prior to use.
  • Students must have electrical equipment tested and tagged prior to using it on site.
  • Ensure that electrical appliances are not repaired, modified or interfered with in any way, unless by a suitably qualified electrician
  • Ensure electrical appliances are set up correctly and used safely
  • Ensure that all purpose built portable electrical appliances or modifications to existing appliances are done by a suitably qualified licensed electrician and tested and tagged in accordance with AS 3760 and comply with the relevant standards and accompanied by a certificate of safety/compliance.
  • Do not remove tag/label and do not repair, modify or interfere with electrical equipment in any way.
  • Do not use piggybacking (double adapters) and ensure that power boards have overload protection and power outlets are not overloaded. Electrical cords are kept away from hazards and traffic areas.
  • When working off site with portable electrical equipment, RCD's must be used. If an RCD trips or electrical equipment fails while in use, managers must withdraw the electrical equipment or RCD from service, tag with a "DO NOT USE" tag and submit for assessment by a competent person (e.g. an electrician) for testing prior to re-use.

Defective electrical equipment

  • Where defective electrical equipment or appliances are found to be defective or damaged, staff are responsible for ensuring that the equipment or appliance is immediately withdrawn from use and an “DO NOT USE “tag is placed on the equipment and the equipment. Faulty equipment is only to be repaired by a suitably qualified electrician.
  • Faulty equipment that cannot be repaired shall be rendered inoperable e.g. power plug removed and safely destroyed or disposed of.

Electrical incidents

  • Persons who have suffered an electrical shock whilst on RMIT premises or whilst performing their duties at an offsite location as part of their normal course of employment or study at RMIT must seek medical attention immediately. N.B The effects of an electric shock can sometimes present themselves some time after the initial incident, so it is imperative that professional medical attention is sought.
  • All electrical incidents should be reported immediately to a Human Resources Senior Advisor, Health and Safety or the Senior Manager Health, Safety and Wellbeing, who have the responsibility of reporting any notifiable incidents immediately to the WorkSafe Victoria and Energy Safe Victoria and a follow up written notification within 48 hours. (RMIT Hazard and incident, investigation and reporting procedure.)
  • Property Services must be contacted to ensure isolation of the equipment has been completed and the area has been deemed safe.
  • An RMIT Incident/Hazard Report Form must be completed as soon as possible. (Refer to RMIT Hazard and incident, investigation and reporting procedure.)
  • Incidents occurring offsite should be reported on an incident form supplied by the external worksite and a copy forwarded to RMIT Human Resources. Where none is available, an RMIT incident/hazard form should be used.

[Next: Supporting documents and information]