WHAT IS IT?
RCDs are electrical safety switches designed to quickly disconnect the power in the event of certain electrical faults, protecting the end-user from possible electric shock.
The mechanisms in RCDs can seize over time so the RCD fails to trip when it’s required, regular testing exercises the mechanism and ensures faulty RCDs are identified and removed from service at regular intervals. Worksafe Regulation 3.60 makes regular RCD testing in accordance with AS3760:2010 a legal requirement for all businesses, government and not-for-profits in Western Australia.
WHO CAN CARRY OUT THE TESTING?
Push button testing can be conducted by any “competent person” but an electrician should be on hand to replace any faulty RCDs that are identified. “Full function” injection testing should be conducted by a licensed electrician.
Requirements vary depending on the type of installation; usually a push button test for operation is required every 6 months and “full function” injection testing (which simulates a real fault) is required at 12 or 24 monthly intervals.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?
The “person in control of the workplace” is responsible for ensuring regular testing is carried out and results are properly documented.
DOCUMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT
Test results must be produced within 24 hours if requested by a Worksafe inspector. Electronic records are considered acceptable (and often preferred) and must be retained for a minimum of 7 years. Improvement notices and fines can be issued for non-compliance.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR TESTING AT MY WORKPLACE?
Because testing the RCD requires confirming the operation of the tripping mechanism that means any electrical appliances will lose power briefly (usually for about 30 seconds). You should prepare for this in the same manner you would for any other planned power outage
- Ensure all staff are aware of the testing ahead of time
- Ensure all computers are logged off and shut down
- Ensure your server, router, IP PBX and critical IT infrastructure are connected to UPS backup (or powered down if they are not)
- Ensure any other sensitive electronic equipment (point of sale, tills, NAS devices etc.) is shut down and wherever possible turned off at the wall
- Ensure devices with volatile memory (reticulation controllers, lighting timers etc.) are fitted with fresh batteries
- Have contact details for your security and IT contractors on hand just in case. Problems with your equipment are unlikely and rare but it’s important to be prepared. Some security and IT systems often go long periods without being power cycled; so if you haven’t had RCD testing carried out before then it is possible there is equipment in your workplace that hasn’t experienced a power failure in years and may respond unexpectedly