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Category Health and Safety
Type Guideline
Approved by Vice Chancellor, October 2004
Date Guideline Took Effect 1 October 2004
Last approved revision 26 June 2017
Sponsor Chief Operating Officer
Responsible officer Director, Health, Safety and Wellbeing

Please note that compliance with University Guidelines is expected in normal circumstances, and any deviation from Guidelines – which should only be in exceptional circumstances – needs to be justifiable.


These guidelines provide additional information to support the Testing of Portable Electrical Equipment Policy and compliance with AS/NZS 3760:2010.

Organisational scope

These guidelines apply to all University of Otago workplaces.


AS/NZS 3760:2010
Standard New Zealand's standard for In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment.
Departmental Health and Safety Officer.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 2016 and regulations.
Person conducting a business or undertaking.
Portable Electrical Equipment
Low voltage single phase and polyphaser equipment, which is to be entered into service for the first time, or which is already in service, has been serviced, or is available for hire or resale.
Specialist Equipment
Each Department has a responsibility to identify specialised equipment. For example, medical equipment that attaches to patients. Once identified this needs to be referred to a specialist testing company or registered electrician to be tested.
The Standard
AS/NZS 3760:2010.


1. Introduction

  1. Electricity is a recognised hazard in the workplace and can lead to direct (e.g. electric shock) or indirect injury (e.g. from resulting fire, etc.).
  2. Electrical equipment can become faulty and regular inspections and testing can reduce the chances of faulty equipment leading to a hazardous situation.
  3. The testing of portable electrical equipment to AS/NZS 3760:2010 is a recognised reasonably practical step to meeting the requirements of the HSWA.

2. What to test

  1. Non-specialised appliances
    1. Electrical equipment that is portable or frequently moved that is connected by a flexible cord to a power supply. Examples of this are kitchen appliances, overhead projectors, lights/lamps, heaters, computers etc. Cord extension sets, electrical portable outlet devices (EPOD's/multi-boxes), flexible cords, portable isolation transformers and RCD's (portable type, socket outlet type) also require testing.
  2. Specialised electrical equipment
    1. Each Department has a responsibility to identify specialised equipment. For example, medical equipment that attaches to patients. Once identified this needs to be referred to a specialist testing company or registered electrician to be tested.
    2. Where an appliance requires testing, but may be susceptible to damage by the testing process the manufacture instructions need to be obtained and adhered with.

3. When to test

  1. The standard requires testing of portable electrical equipment at the following times:
    1. Prior to initial introduction to service. If the equipment is new, AS/NZS 3760:2010 requires that this equipment be inspected, tested and tagged on entry to service;
    2. Before return to service after a repair or servicing, which could have affected the electrical safety;
    3. Prior to each hire of the equipment (for hire equipment, inspection only) and additionally tested at not greater than monthly intervals; and
    4. As per table 2 of the standard (summarised from AZ/NZS 3760:2010).
  2. Type of environment and/or equipment (including cord extensions and EPOD's). Testing interval for each type of environment:
    1. Workshops - 6 months
    2. Laboratories (chemical laboratories), teaching spaces, tea rooms and office kitchens - 12 months
    3. Office environment where equipment flexible cords are subject to flexing in normal use (e.g. OHP that is frequently moved around) - 12 months
    4. Office environment where equipment is not subject to flexing of cords in normal use - 5 years
    5. Residential type areas (e.g.: accommodation) - 2 years.
  3. Construction and demolition sites - refer to AS/NZS 3012 for time frames and testing regime requirements. This is not the complete table. To view the complete table, please refer to AS/NZS 3760:2010 or contact Health, Safety and Wellbeing.

4. Prioritising Equipment

  1. It is recognised that some departments have a significant number of portable items for testing and that the initial testing will take some time for completion. Priorities for testing may need to be identified by the Department, depending on the degree of risk. Risk factors for consideration include:
    1. the environment the equipment is being used in e.g. wet areas, or equipment on stainless steel benches
    2. the age of the equipment (old=risk)
    3. equipment that is frequently moved, plugged and unplugged
    4. equipment that is used by workers or students on a frequent and regular basis; and
    5. equipment that has high usage, including hiring to other departments and field work.
  2. This list is not exhaustive and departments are responsible for identifying the electrical equipment, documenting the regime for testing, and providing sufficient resources to achieve the plan.

  3. In addition to the testing regime, all workers should visually check electrical equipment prior to use and report any deficiencies. The visual check should include:
    1. obvious damage or defects to connectors, plugs, extension outlet sockets such as cracks, splits, burns, etc.
    2. flexible cords are anchored to equipment, plugs and cord extension sockets
    3. cord sheaths are not cut, twisted or damaged so that the inner core is visible
    4. no insulation tape has been used to cover wires
    5. controls in good working order
    6. covers, guards, etc. are secured and in working order
    7. check that the ventilation inlets and exhausts are unobstructed.
  4. Any deficiencies identified by a visual inspection should be isolated for electrical testing and repaired if required. Mark the item with a DANGER - DO NOT USE tag and remove from the environment.
  5. All University of Otago workers must visually check equipment prior to use and report all faults or damage to electrical equipment to your DHSO or Technical Manager. Under no circumstances is a person to repair the electrical equipment, unless they are a registered electrician. All faulty or failed tested electrical equipment shall be removed and a permanent label or DANGER: DO NOT USE tag must be attached to prevent use.

5. Who can test equipment?

  1. The standard requires a competent person, who has acquired through training, qualification, experience or a combination of these; has the knowledge and skill to perform the testing task correctly. The University defines a competent person as one or more of the following:
    1. A registered electrician, or registered technician with electrical certification
    2. A worker who is designated by the Head of Department or Support Service Manager to be an electrical tester, who has completed the necessary 'Competent Person' course within the last 2 years.
  2. A central testing meter is available for hire from Health, Safety and Wellbeing.

6. Tester Responsibilities

  1. Tested equipment must be clearly marked with a durable, non-reusable, non-metallic tag. The tag must identify the name of the person or company who tested the equipment, and the test or re-test date;
  2. To maintain documentation of the testing regime; and
  3. To clearly label any items that does not pass the test. This equipment must be clearly marked or removed from the work area, and arrangements made to have the equipment repaired or destroyed. The label shall state ONLY REGISTERED ELECTRICIANS OR CERTIFIED SPECIALIST CAN REPAIR EQUIPMENT.

7. Documentation

  1. Where records of test and inspection are kept, the following should all be recorded:
    1. a register of all equipment
    2. a record of formal inspection and tests
    3. a repair register
    4. a record of all faulty equipment.
  2. Regulatory requirements may require documentation to be kept in some cases. Refer to:
    1. AS/NZS 3000 (Electrical Installations)
    2. AS/NZS 3003 (Electrical installations - patient treatment areas of hospital and medical and dental practices)
    3. AS/NZS 3551 (Technical management programs for medical devices)
    4. AS/NZS 3012 (Electrical Installations - construction & demolition sites)
    5. AS/NZS 4249 (Electrical Safety Practices - film, video and television sites)
    6. In addition, records should be kept when the item in question is likely to need retesting within its prescribed lifetime.

8. Medical Equipment

Medical equipment (any equipment that attaches to patients/clients or animals) is specialised and has specific requirements. All medical equipment is to be tested by a certified specialist or registered electrician. Refer to The standard (New Zealand Electrical Code of Practice) NZECP 12.

9. Equipment brought on site

Privately owned and/or manufactured item of equipment that is brought on site for demonstration or
private use, must be tested for electrical safety prior to use. A tag needs to be applied and records
maintained of the testing.

10. Heaters

No portable bar type heaters may be used on site within the University.

Related policies, procedures and forms

Contact for further information

If you have any queries regarding the content of these guidelines or need further clarification, contact:

Director, Health, Safety and Wellbeing

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