Electrical tagging, or 'test and tag', as it is known in Australia, is a perennial irritant for many school administrators. Some see it as a drain on school resources, while others believe the procedure to be a waste of time. However, there are a number of reasons why electrical tagging is an important aspect of schools' risk management policies. Read on to find out more about why electrical tagging is important and why skipping your school's next test and tag round is a bad idea.
1. It's the law
Under the various workplace health and safety (WHS) laws enacted by states and territories across Australia, employers (including schools) have a legal obligation to ensure workplaces are safe. No jurisdiction in Australia explicitly mandates electrical tagging as part of their WHS regulations; however, the various state-based workplace safety authorities have interpreted the general duty of employers to ensure a safe system of work to encompass test and tag procedures. For example, WorkSafe Victoria has advised that it considers adherence to the national standards on electrical tagging, as set by Standards Australia, to fall under this general duty.
It is essential that your school follows the test and tag schedule set out by your state's WHS regulator, lest you expose yourself to compliance audits.
2. Fire safety
Faulty electrical equipment is the biggest cause of fires on commercial premises in Australia, and schools are not immune. School building fires have the potential to bring distress to staff and students, displace classes while repairs occur, and, of course, cause physical injury. Up to 10 percent of all equipment tested during regular electrical audits fails inspection, meaning without periodic testing, your school could become a fire disaster waiting to happen.
3. Preventing electric shock
Test and tag procedures are undertaken to not only prevent electrical fires, but also reduce the chance of electric shock. Electrical tagging involves a thorough visual inspection of the equipment in question, followed by the use of an appliance tester to check for electrical faults. According to Sarah Allen of Facility Management Magazine, it is at the first stage that most faulty items fail testing. Most of the time, the (adult) user is surprised that the appliance, which may look safe at first glance, has been deemed an electric shock hazard.
The electric shock risk has particular importance to schools. If a mature adult is often unable to determine the difference between an electrical appliance that is safe to use and one that may pose a risk of electrocution, what chance does a child have? Children can have a more severe reaction to electric shock than adults, so electrical safety in schools is of paramount importance.
The annual or biennial test and tag round might be met with groans or annoyance by many school administrators, but as these three points show, electrical tagging for schools is of vital importance. So next time your school's test and tag schedule falls due, take it as an opportunity to invest in the future of safety for your school.