The shake-up: New standards coming into force

Changes coming for portable power boards and why you should care

Let’s be honest – seeking out a product because it meets government regulations isn’t usually high on the shopping list – no matter what you’re buying.

“I’m looking for something that will do the job,” is a typical thought as you head to the store or website to buy an electrical product like a portable power board.

“I want something affordable.”

“Safety is important.”

When one starts reading the reems of pages covering Australia electrical standards, the indifference to purchasing based on Australian standards is understandable.

Australian Standards for portable power distribution boards are complex. They need serious concentration to interpret and understand, and an even greater determination and investment to follow through the rigorous planning and testing, to ensure the product complies.

When Powersafe presents you with a catalogue of portable power boards and accessories boasting “certification” why should you care?

Why is it important for consumers to consider giving more weight to Australian standards when considering which power board to purchase?

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE

In broad terms, there are three compelling reasons – your legal liability, having confidence in the company (responsible supplier) who built the product, and ensuring the safety of your personnel and equipment.

        1. In the event of an accident, using uncertified products in the workplace puts you at greater risk of legal liability. Buying and using certified products protects you, thus possibly saving you thousands of dollars, and your reputation.
        2. You will know who made the product, where it was made, and how it was made, and that the company is dedicated to quality.
        3. You will have greater peace of mind regarding your personnel and equipment knowing that the product used has met the highest nationwide standards.

Be aware that there are several powers boards on the market that are not certified. Others claim a level of “certification” but cannot demonstrate it.

Certified product must not only be designed and built to meet standards, but must also pass stringent testing by independent, certified laboratories. This requires significant upfront investment, often a barrier to legitimate entry for many companies.

THE SHAKE UP IN THE PORTABLE POWER BOARD INDUSTRY

To make things even more interesting, there is a shake-up coming to the regulatory framework for portable power boards, and indeed all electrical “assemblies”, with a new set of standards coming into force nationally in the second quarter of 2021.

The new standards (AS61439) are compulsory. Power board manufacturers selling products that do not meet these standards after May 2021 are breaking the law, however companies/customers using older or uncompliant power boards will have a window of three to five years to update.

The new standards are complex and demanding, but to summarize, the main changes address managing the internal temperature of boards, and arc flash protection. There are many other aspects, but these are the two most critical.

Powersafe has and will be investing considerable time and energy to ensure all their products – from their largest three-phase mountable power board to extension leads – comply with all these standards.

Because most products are manufactured here in Australia by certified electricians, Powersafe (an ISO9001 company) has greater control over the process.

This dedication to research and quality has been at the core of Powersafe’s development over the past 15 years, its power boards meeting, and sometimes exceeding, existing standards (AS3012, AS3190) with several features most other suppliers exclude.

It is safe to conclude, that certification will increasingly be on the shopping lists of all responsible buyers of portable power boards and related products, such as a clearly marked isolating switch.

THE THREE MINUTE TASK THAT COULD SAVE YOU THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS

In the future, when considering your next purchase of portable power boards, there is a simple three-minute search that will confirm or deny that product is certified. This short exercise could save you thousands of dollars.

Ensure any power boards you purchase is from a certified responsible supplier listed on the Electrical Equipment Safety System (EESS) website – eess.gov.au It is mandatory for manufacturers or importers to be registered on this site. If they are not they are not legitimate.

 Ask your supplier for a copy of a compliance certificate of the product you purchase. Your supplier is required by law to supply you with the following on request:

      • A full set of compliance documentation
      • Test reports
      • Wiring diagram
      • Material list.

if you ask for them. If they refuse you can assume, they do not have them,