Which RCD Should I Be Using?
Perhaps you have just bought some new equipment for your business or you may be checking your current workplace for compliance and therefore asked yourself:
“which RCD should I be using?”
You may be wondering which RCD to use for each piece of equipment in your workplace. Therefore you will know there are a range of different devices available to you. The device you choose will be determined by the type of equipment you are using and furthermore the nature of your work.
Also, make sure to remember that once you have chosen your new safety switch you will need to have regular RCD testing. It is vital for every business to undertake RCD testing to ensure the safety of their staff members. RCD testing is prescribed in AS/NZS 3760:2010.
What is a residual current device (RCD)?
As discussed in last month’s blog regarding RCD’s & managing electrical risks in the workplace you will need to know exactly what an RCD is to ensure safety for all.
Fixed RCDs are exactly that – fixed. Therefore once installed in the fuse box they can provide protection for your entire building. Considered the highest level or protection for your workplace and building, it monitors all power points and wiring in the connected circuit as well as any connected equipment.
Commonly used in the following working environments:
- residential buildings
- retail establishments
- public facilities
- industrial warehouses
- commercial buildings
You will need fixed RCD’s if your workplace is in a fixed location. This will protect your employees and guests. A licensed electrician will be needed to complete the installation process for you and then you can ensure ongoing safety and functionality with Spark Safety Solutions testing services.
We have compiled an extensive testing frequency table for quick and easy reference
We will inspect and test your safety switches at the appropriate intervals according to the current Australian standards. As stated here Work Health and Safety (Managing Electrical Risks in the Workplace) Code of Practice 2015
Portable residual current devices are available in a range of different designs. If your work is mobile, you need to invest in a mobile safety switch. You can buy a portable RCD in the following range of styles:
This device is a portable power board or box with multiple or single outlets. Which has a safety switch function built into the box. This will therefore give the user protection for any equipment that is plugged directly into this power board.
Single outlet plugin adaptor
This adaptor is small and easy to transport. It will provide protection for one power point only. Simply plug the adaptor into the socket and then plug your equipment into the adaptor.
For added protection, you can purchase extension leads that come with in-built residual current devices. This option is suitable for those working indoors and outdoors.
Working environments where portable safety switches are most commonly used:
- damp locations
- outdoor areas
- construction sites
- demolition sites
- installation sites
WorkCover New South Wales stats that portable devices:
“should be used where RCD protection is not already provided or is unknown”
In any high-risk environment, this safety device is essential for monitoring equipment and appliances.
Also, if you want to see a technical definition of each type of safety switch and their ideal use have a read of this handy guide from the electrical engineering portal.
If you are still having trouble figuring out which RCD to use, you can consider the following points:
- available space
- existing equipment (if replacing a faulty device)
- residual rating
- short circuit rating
- frequency rating
Be sure to consult your local safe work authority if you have any questions or queries – better to be safe than sorry!
RCD Testing requirements
Persons with management or control of a workplace must ensure that RCDs used at the workplace are tested regularly by a competent person. This requirement covers RCDs used in all operating environments including non-portable (or ‘fixed’) RCDs. If an RCD is tested and found to be faulty it must be taken out of service. Then replaced as soon as possible. Requirements for inspecting and testing electrical equipment used in certain higher-risk workplaces which could, for example include portable RCDs are explained in Section 3.2 of the Work Health and Safety (Managing Electrical Risks in the Workplace) Code of Practice 2015.
For further guidance on approval and test specifications, see AS/NZS 3190: Approval and test specification – Residual current devices.
At Spark Safety Solutions we work to the following standards for residual current device testing:
- AS/NZS 3760: 2010 – In service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment
- AS/NZS 3012: 2010 – Electrical installations – Construction and demolition sites
A person with management or control of a workplace must take all reasonable steps to ensure that residual current devices used at the workplace. Furthermore are tested regularly by a competent person. This is to ensure the devices are working effectively. A record of testing (other than daily testing) is to be kept until the device is next tested or disposed of. AS/NZS 3012:2010 applies in relation to construction and demolition sites.
It is essential to work to these standards to ensure your workplace is compliant and always protected.
During each test the following occurs:
- A push button test to check the RCD is operational
- A Trip Time test to measure for “trip time” in accordance with Australian standards
- Identification and testing of circuits protected by RCD
- Inspection of switchboard door, hinge, lock and weatherproof seal
- Comprehensive reporting
- Compliance Certificate issued