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Test those RCDs now and often

04/02/2009 10:43

Despite doing my best to keep right up to speed on as many safety requirements as I can, I discovered an issue that I hadn't been aware of; RCD testing.

 The issue only came about today because I was having an electrical safety check done for my own flat.  I work from home and I was getting nervous about some electrical anomolies.

 The sparky found that the RCD protecting power circuits was not working. He pointed out that it's not commonly known that pressing the test button on an RCD is something that should be done at least monthly.  He also pointed out that doing that will, if the RCDs mechanical bits work properly, trigger the power switch to turn off; that's probably the reason RCD testing (via the RCD rather than via specialised testing equipment) isn't done or mentioned a lot.  Power goes off, around you go reseting all the clocks and whatever that are in our applicances or equipment.

 But the fact of the matter is of course, that in the absence of that test it's possible you have an RCD installed and it's doin' nothing.

 There are Oz standards that mention in places that regular testing is recommended.  These are the 2 I found that cover the issue: AS 3760 2003 - In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment. AS 31902002 - Approval and test specifications - Residual Current Devices. 

 I thought to mention this experience so that all of us in OHS-World could consider making sure any safety programs we put together specifically mention regular testing of RCDs.  Failure of an RCD is not uncommon and obviously, an RCD that don't work is pointless. 

Re: Test those RCDs now and often

04/02/2009 14:15

G'Day Col,

From a Qld perspective AS 3760 is the one you refer to (not sure about other states) as it is called up in the ES Regs. The requirements out of our regs require a push button testing on connecting and then every three months followed by testing from a competent person 2 yearly (for office work).

Just to complicate matters though there are different testing schedules for the different classes of work though and these different classes can all exist at the one workplace eg: office building in a construction site.

 I have had some people say to me that a battery drill needs to be tested and tagged which is rubbish. Doesn't apply to the charger though as it connects to the power supply and is hence classed as electrical equipment. 



Re: Test those RCDs now and often

04/02/2009 15:22

Thanks for that clarification Rod.  The standard's recommendation is probably a good case in point about treating these things as guides only (unless they are incorporated in a reg of course) and even then I reckon such an important safety device should be tested more often than every 3 months.  I'll chase the reg trail down for here in Vic but I think I'm inclined to tell my punters what the minimum requirement is, but recommend a monthly test.   



Director - fini:OHS

Re: Test those RCDs now and often

04/02/2009 22:08

When I was in the mining industry there was a statutory requirement for monthly tests of RCD'S.


George Robotham