Checking your Residual Current Device might save your life.
Tradies and other site-workers are constantly working around electrical equipment that includes power tools, extension cords, power boards and generators. Occasionally these items may come in contact with water, or other items that might damage them, which causes potential exposure to electric shock and damage to equipment.
An essential item on-site is the RCD, or Residual Current Device. These systems should be installed in line with your power tools because if there is leakage or anomalies in the cords or power tools, the RCD will trip the power and stop any of the faulty equipment becoming ‘live’.
But what if the RCD is faulty? Like any piece of electrical equipment, an RCD can fail, due to a poor earth bond or an internal issue.
RCDs get a tough life, like any piece of site equipment. So at Coates Hire we test our RCDs every time they come back to the branch. That includes the RCDs that we build-in to our generators.
For anyone who’s using hire equipment, or using an employer’s or partner’s electrical gear, always check the RCD for a current test tag. It should tell you the date tested (and passed) and the due date for the next test. If you’re an employer, you're responsible for the ‘test and tag’ of electrical equipment.
You should also test the RCD yourself, before you get going. They all have a push-button on them that will trip the RCD when pushed in.
If you’re using RCDs a lot, you can buy your own RCD tester. This tester will verify that your RCD is tripping in the required time. For instance, if your RCD is rated at 40 milliseconds, and it’s taking 48 milliseconds to trip, you might have a problem.
While RCDs can save lives, so can your own vigilance. Don’t set-up extension cords where there’s water on the ground; don't use equipment with out-of-date test tags; if you’re using a generator, use the earthing spikes; and if an RCD keeps tripping, either replace the power tool or have it checked.
Coates Hire is offering free ‘Test and Tagging’ of electrical gear, every Friday throughout March. See the website for details of participating branches here.