Safety, Health and Wellbeing

General electrical guidance

Our role is to develop and assist in the implementation of the UWA safety, health and wellbeing programs in order to minimise the risk of injury, illness and property damage.

We provide consultancy and other services to promote best practice and legislative compliance in all University and related activities.

These measures are to be applied to all areas. Electrical equipment and associated leads (cords) must be checked regularly to ensure that they are undamaged and safe for use.

The information on this page is supplemented by the Electrical Safety Pamphlet under Futher Information. Some workplaces may be defined as hostile electrical environments, in addition to visually inspecting leads there is a mandatory requirement for these areas to carry out regular electrical testing with attachment of coloured tags to verify that the check was completed. See Testing, tagging and workplace inspections

  • Users are responsible for organising workplace inspections, the associated checking of leads and, in electrically hostile environments, for organising the regular electrical testing and tagging of equipment.
  • If no tag is attached to equipment, in an electrically hostile environment, it may not be used.
  1. Electric shock
  2. Extension leads
  3. Electrical appliances
  4. Tea Areas
  5. Lighting and heating
  6. Overhead power lines
  7. Power boards
  8. Powerpoints

Electric shock

  • State regulations require all cases of electric shock and damage to property from electrical incidents to be reported, so that the cause of the shock/damage can be investigated and corrected.
  • Staff working on live electrical equipment need to be familiar with cardio-pulmonary resuscitation techniques.

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Extension leads

  • Extension leads should only be regarded as a temporary arrangement for power distribution.
  • Run extension cords and power leads around the walls and around the backs of desks.
  • Do not run cords across walk or trafficable areas, under chairs or furniture, under carpets or between rooms.
  • Use heavy-duty extension cords outdoors and use a residual current device (RCD) for personal protection.
  • Do not squash extension cords between furniture, walls, and windows.
  • Keep cords away from hot or wet surfaces.
  • Inspect cords to check that they are in good condition. Discolouration can indicate overheating due to overloading; this needs to be reported and checked to see if it is still safe to use.
  • Extension leads and power cords are separate electrical items and need to be inspected separately.
  • Even leads with moulded plugs and sockets may have manufacturing defects and should be checked for correct wiring.
  • To help reduce subsequent testing costs, tested leads can be attached to a portable electrical appliance and tested as an integral part of the item, providing a visual inspection of the lead is still done.
  • If a lead is cut or damaged it must be replaced unless it can be repaired by a suitably licensed person.

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Electrical appliances

  • All users of electrical appliances should conduct a visual check of equipment they are about to use to ensure it is safe to use. Most faults with electrical appliances can be detected with a visual inspection.
  • Switch off and, if safe to do so, unplug any faulty or suspect electrical appliance; do not continue to use it, place a label on it showing it is faulty and report it so it can be tested, repaired or replaced.
  • Do not use portable electrical appliances where they may become wet or have liquid spilt on or into them.
  • Switch off and unplug any wet appliance or lead if safe to do so.
  • Do not remove any fixed covers from portable electrical appliances as there is a high risk of electric shock occurring if the appliance is plugged in while the covers are removed.
  • Only use portable electrical appliances for the task they were designed for.
  • Avoid overloading powerpoints and power boards. As a guide, high wattage devices such as electric heaters and jugs should have their own powerpoint as they typically draw half to three-quarters the capacity of the powerpoint, so when used in conjunction with several other appliances, they could blow a fuse or trip a circuit breaker or cause a fire.
  • If you purchase new electrical equipment from Australian manufacturers or from importers and the equipment has approval markings or overseas equivalent such as CE (Conformité Européenne,) for Europe or UL (Underwriters Laboratories) for USA, the equipment can be used in a non-hostile environment without any electrical testing being required, providing it is visually checked to ensure the lead is undamaged before use.
  • If an electrical appliance is moved into an area classified as electrically hostile, such as a laboratory or workshop, the appliance will have to be tested and tagged in accordance with AS/NZS 3760 before use.
  • If an electrical appliance is faulty and has to be repaired, the appliance will have to be electrically tested and tagged, in accordance with AS/NZS 3760, before it can be returned to a hostile environment.

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Tea areas

Tea rooms can normally be considered to be a non-hostile environment providing that the following conditions are met:

  • No unsafe electrical equipment is to be used (see above section - Electrical appliances).
  • Small equipment outlets are RCD protected (not including refrigerators which are not normally on RCD protected circuits).
  • The length of electrical cords is limited such that the equipment cannot be immersed in water (for example a filled sink or running tap).

Lead length can be adjusted either by rewiring (shortening the lead) by a competent person or by use of cable ties or similar cable management aids available from hardware stores and office suppliers. If these conditions are not met the area must be regarded as “hostile” and electrical testing and tagging must be carried out.

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Lighting and heating

  • Halogen desk lamps are hot when operating and can become a fire risk if flammable materials come into contact with them, such as curtains or paper.
  • Consider using a compact fluorescent as a cooler alternative to a halogen lamp. 
  • Compact fluorescent lamps overheat if put in an enclosed light fitting, so ensure there is adequate ventilation.
  • Never leave your office with appliances such as heaters operating.

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Overhead power lines

  • Be aware of overhead power lines and the risk they pose for work involving cranes, boat masts, height access equipment, and ladders.

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Power boards

  • All power boards used in UWA must have overload protection fitted and should also have built in on/off switches.
  • In cases where higher current drawing equipment is to be used, consideration should be given to installation of fixed sockets as an alternative to use of power boards.
  • Place power boards in ventilated areas, keep them free of dust and dirt and off the floor wherever possible to stop liquid entry, and keep leads tidy.
  • Double adaptors and similar are not to be used as they have no overload protection.
  • Piggy-back plugs must only be used in areas such as University theatres where competent staff can correctly assess circuit loadings.

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Powerpoints

  • Make sure that all powerpoints have earth leakage circuit breakers (ELCB) or safety switches fitted and are labelled to indicate what type of protection is in use and to which circuit the powerpoint is connected.
  • Contact Facilities Management to have power points labeled and residual current device or safety switch outlets tested.
  • Make sure that plugs are pushed fully into the socket, so that no part of the pins are exposed.
  • Report any damaged powerpoints so they can be repaired.
  • To avoid a shock, switch off powerpoints before plugging and unplugging appliances.
  • Remove appliances from the powerpoint by holding the plug, not by pulling the cord.

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