New regulations mandating safety switches in most workplaces came into force recently in New South Wales (Australia).
The workplaces will be 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. (WCxKit)
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:
1. hand-held electrical equipment such as circular saws, angle grinders, hair dryers or commercial kitchen appliances
2. portable equipment that is moved while in operation such as floor polishers, vacuum cleaners and portable lighting
3. electrical equipment that could be moved between jobs such as extension leads, power boards, audio visual equipment or welding machines
Safety switches are recognized world-wide as life-saving devices that can reduce the unacceptably high number of electrocutions.
The National Regulatory Impact Statement for the Work Health and Safety Regulations found that States with mandatory safety switches have around 35% fewer electrical incidents.
A number of workplace deaths in NSW may not have happened had safety switches been mandated. The NSW Government will take all reasonable steps to prevent death and injury at work. Safety switches are one part of the answer.
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 the employer to ensure that safety switches are regularly tested by a competent person to ensure the devices are operating correctly.
WorkCover will run an education campaign during the implementation period and small businesses with 20 employees or less who attend a WorkCover Workshop, or have received an advisory visit from a Business Advisory Officer, will be eligible to apply for a rebate under the WorkCover Small Business Rebate Program. (WCxKit)
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.
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.
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