New regulations mandating safety switches in most NSW workplaces recently came into force.
All NSW workplaces are now required to install a safety switch, (also called a residual current device) for power points to protect workers against the risk of serious injury or fatality from an electric shock.
The new rules also mean that high-risk portable electrical equipment and electrical equipment used in hostile conditions are protected by a safety switch.
Examples of high risk portable electrical equipment include: hand-held electrical equipment such as circular saws, angle grinders, hair dryers or commercial kitchen appliances; portable equipment that is moved while in operation such as floor polishers, vacuum cleaners and portable lighting; and electrical equipment that could be moved between jobs such as extension leads, power boards, audio visual equipment or welding machines.
The National Regulatory Impact Statement for the Work Health and Safety Regulations found that states with mandatory safety switches have around 35 per cent fewer electrical incidents.
Under the changes employers must ensure a safety switch is installed into the power circuit or as part of the socket itself or alternatively use a portable safety switch in any workplace that uses hand-held electrical equipment or where electrical equipment is moved during operation.
The changes will also require that employers ensure that safety switches are regularly tested by a competent person to ensure the devices are operating correctly.
Under the new regulations businesses will have 12 months to protect portable electrical equipment and electrical equipment used in hazardous conditions with safety switches, and four years to protect all power points with safety switches.
Safety switches are already required for construction and building sites.