Testing & Tagging – worth the effort?
As part of our risk management strategy and, in particular, as part of our occupational health and safety regime we carry out regular testing and tagging of all the electrical appliances and items in our offices.
The regulations differ per state but in Victoria where I am based, the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act (2004) states that an employer has a legal obligation to ensure that the workplace and the plant at the workplace is safe and without risks to health (Section 21).
This entails identifying whether there are any hazards associated with electrical equipment, assessing the associated risks and taking measures to eliminate or control those risks.
It never ceases to amaze me just how many electrical items we have in our office. Even with my desire to have no power boards or extension leads, some always seem to sneak in.
This time around, more than the normal number of things failed. The most common item to fail is the kitchen sandwich maker. We seem to throw one of them away each time around from at least one of our offices. I also note just how frayed the electrical cable is on sandwich makers in so many offices and factories that I attend. Of course, I always point out the danger but not everyone heeds the warning.
A couple of other kitchen appliances also failed as did 3 uninterruptible power suppliers and 1 old computer monitor.
On the subject of computer monitors, having been to so many office fires caused by a monitor left on standby not to mention a fire in my own home last Christmas day with a TV left on standby, we have a standing instruction to turn them off and not leave them on standby. In my home I had an electrician fit a physical power switch that we can easily reach rather than leave the TV’s on standby.
Having done the Melbourne office, we are moving to our Sydney office this week.
It is of course not easy doing the testing during business hours when everyone is using the equipment and so the way we handle it is we had one of our risk surveyors do the test and tagging course and then he does the testing and tagging out of hours as he moves around the country.
For my part, to me it is a valuable risk management measure to keep our staff safe and reduce the likelihood of a fire. While it is yet another cost to the business, if it saves someone from a zap (we do have earth leakage safety switches on our switchboards so hopefully this is unlikely) or worse, a fire that would disrupt the business to me it is money well spent.