Electrical safety compliance requirements in AU/NZ
The requirements for electrical safety compliance in Australia/New Zealand can sometimes be a confusing subject to navigate.
Robert Norris, the General Manager of test laboratory Comtest Group in Melbourne, provides answers to some of the key compliance questions.
1. Is compliance required for all electrical equipment?
Yes, all electrical equipment must comply with an Electrical Safety standard, regardless of the voltage they operate at.
2. How do you find out if equipment is considered 'high-risk'?
All Level 2 and 3 in-scope equipment are listed in Appendix B of AS/NZS 4417.2.
3. Who is responsible for ensuring equipment is compliant?
Where the equipment is made 'in country' it is the responsibility of the local AU/NZ manufacturer and if it's manufactured overseas it will be the importer's responsibility.
4. Is it compulsory to have an overseas equipment tested before supply within Australia/New Zealand?
Yes, however international test reports can be accepted, as long as the AS/NZs variants are met.
5. What factors should be considered when choosing a test laboratory?
It is essential to determine the type of report that is required and whether the laboratory can perform the specific testing. Does the laboratory have the necessary accreditation and scope to test your equipment?
Other important (commonly overlooked) factors when choosing a laboratory are customer service levels, lead times and communication during the project.
6. Are there benefits to testing equipment locally in Australia?
Yes, expert local knowledge of the test standards and the regulatory requirements result in a quicker timescale to market and products being tested to the correct standards.
7. Are there differences between Australian and New Zealand compliance regulations?
Electrical safety compliance shares the same standards and regulatory system in AU/NZ.
8. What is accreditation and is it important to have products tested in an accredited laboratory?
Australian accredited laboratories are determined by accreditation bodies such as NATA and give the customer confidence that testing is being performed to the highest level of competency.
In-scope Level 3 equipment must have an endorsed test report which is only available from an accredited laboratory.
9. How long can the compliance process take?
Testing times can vary, however once all the correct reports are available then any certificates, approvals and registrations usually take only a week.
10. When is equipment allowed to have RCM labelling and be ready for sale?
The RCM not only signifies compliance of In scope equipment to the electrical safety standards, it also signifies compliance to the ACMA regulatory requirements. Once all the appropriate records are collated for the appropriate level of equipment, the responsible supplier and equipment are registered, the RCM can be applied to the equipment ready for sale.
11. Who is in charge of determining the compliance regulations in Australia/New Zealand?
There are a number of different regulators involved in the compliance process.
The compliance regulations for Electrical Safety in Australia are determined by each state and territory and New Zealand separately.
12. Does equipment need to be retested if they are modified for sale in Australia/New Zealand?
All modifications regardless of the risk level need to be recorded. For Level 3 equipment with a Certificate of Conformity reassessment may be required for an updated certificate to be issued.
13. What are the record-keeping obligations of the compliance process?
By law, all reports, certificates and detailed equipment information must be kept and made accessible for review by a regulator. Suppliers and Level 2 and 3 equipment must be registered on the ERAC, EESS website.
14. What are repercussions of supplying equipment that is not compliant?
The ramifications can result in both personal and corporate liability. Anything from a regulatory warning, fines, product recalls, up to imprisonment depending on the severity of the discretion.
In-scope electrical equipment is low voltage electrical equipment that is:
- Rated at greater than 50 VAC RMS or 120V ripple-free DC (extra low voltage)
- Rated at less than 1000 VAC RMS or 1500V ripple-free DC (low voltage)
- Designed and marketed as suitable for household, personal or similar use
- Levels (AS/NZS 4417.2 Level 1 — Electrical test report only
- Level 2 — Electrical test report + DOC
- Level 3 — Endorsed AS/NZS electrical test report from an Accredited Laboratory + Approval Certificate & Registration (AKA as Prescribed items or Declared Articles)
- Out of Scope
- OOS — Electrical test report only
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