All electrical equipment offered for sale in Australia and New Zealand is required to meet a range of essential safety criteria under Electrical Equipment Safety System (EESS) regulations.
The system aims to provide consistent legislation throughout ANZ, to provide greater consumer safety and to mitigate the likelihood of exposure to electrical hazards, specifically in domestic environments.
EESS is based on harmonised electrical safety legislation, uniform equipment safety rules, ANZ standards and international standards. It is overseen by the Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council (ERAC). ERAC undertakes regular market monitoring via an audit and inspection process to ensure the compliance framework is maintained and to ensure unsafe equipment is not available for sale.
Under the scheme, in-scope equipment is defined as follows:
- Rated at greater than 50 VAC RMS or 120 V ripple-free DC (extra-low voltage).
- Rated at less than 1000 VAC RMS or 1500 V ripple-free DC (high voltage).
- Designed or marketed as suitable for household, personal or similar use.
In-scope equipment must meet with varying requirements, as deemed proportionate to the identified electrical hazard risk level associated with that equipment. Equipment falls into one of three categories: Level 3 (high risk), Level 2 (medium risk) and Level 1 (all other in-scope product).
To determine the appropriate risk level, the Australian and New Zealand Standards committee (QR-12) employs a Risk Engine, or risk calculator. The engine methodology has been assessed and validated by the Mathematical and Geospatial Sciences department at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. The committee — made up of electrical industry experts spanning both government and the private sector — employs the calculator to assess risk levels, which are then recorded in AS/NZS 4417.2:2012.
The regulations governing the sale of high-risk Level 3 products are more stringent than for those classified under Level 1 and Level 2. Product risk classification is shown in Annex B Table B.4 of AS/NZS 4417:2. The most recent amendment of the standard (February 2017) includes the introduction of building wire into the Level 3 risk category in Australia. An overview of applicable products under Level 3 follows and a full list is available in the most recent release of the standard.
- Lighting, electrical accessories and components including:
- Any flexible supply cord that is unscreened and designed for use at low voltage that: consists of two or three elastomer or PVC insulated cores of multistrand construction, has a cross-sectional area of each conductor not exceeding 2.5 mm2, has (other than tinsel cords) individual wire strandings not exceeding 0.21 mm for conductor sizes up to 1 mm2 or 0.26 mm for conductor sizes exceeding 1 mm2. This excludes flexible cord directly connected to equipment or approved non-rewirable accessories (B.2.47).
- Building wire cable that: has 1 to 5 conductors of stranded or solid cores of copper conductors; has an insulated and laid up flat or circular configuration; is sheathed or unsheathed insulated cable; is intended for use at a rated voltage of between 200 and 250 V single phase, or between 350 and 450 V multi-phase, RMS AC, between conductors or to earth; is intended for use in buildings or similar structures; and has a nominal cross-sectional area per conductor from 0.5 to 16 mm2. This excludes armoured, metallic screened and metal sheathed cables (B.2.59).
- Appliance connectors.
- Lampholders and adaptors.
- Fluorescent lamp ballasts and starters.
- Portable luminaires and decorative lighting.
- Miniature overcurrent circuit breakers.
- Outlet devices, plugs, socket outlets and wall switches with a rating not exceeding 20 A.
- Power supplies and chargers with an output not exceeding 50 VAC or 1220 V ripple-free DC.
- RCDs with a rated residual current not exceeding 300 mA for devices intended for connection to fixed wiring or 30 mA for other devices; and, with a rated load current not exceeding 125 A for devices intended for connection to fixed wiring or 20 A for other devices.
- Control or conditioning devices — self-contained, portable devices designed to control or condition electrical input into household electrical devices.
- Cord extension sockets designed for attachment to flex, with a maximum 20 A rating at low voltage and with a detachable connection.
- Cord-line switches for attachment to flex that manually opens and closes an electrical circuit and has a rating not exceeding 16 A at low voltage.
- Decorative lighting.
- Household appliances including (but not limited to): electric blankets, clothes dryers, vacuum cleaners, portable cooking appliances, dishwashers, fans, floor polishers, hairstyling equipment, irons, microwaves, fridges, heaters, sewing machines, heat lamps, washing machines and water heaters.
For Level 3 product to be sold legally in Australia, it must:
- be registered on the EESS national database;
- be linked to a registered Responsible Supplier;
- have a valid Certificate of Conformity from a recognised certifier; and,
- be marked with the Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM).
The EESS national database is a publicly accessible repository for product and supplier information as outlined under the scheme.
A Responsible Supplier is a person, company or business that manufactures or imports in-scope product in ANZ. Responsible Suppliers are required under legislation to register on the national database and to renew that registration each year.
Responsible Suppliers must make a Responsible Supplier Declaration, which states that the equipment supplied is electrically safe and will continue to meet relevant standards and comply with EESS. Additionally, Responsible Suppliers must make an individual Equipment Declaration for Level 3 and Level 2 equipment, confirming that the products meet with relevant standards.
The database also holds product-specific certification details including Certificates of Conformity (issued by a recognised certifying body) as required for Level 3 product under the scheme.
To obtain a Certificate of Conformity, Responsible Suppliers must submit an application to a recognised certifying body. Applications must include test reports from an approved testing entity, physical samples of the product (or clear images showing internal and external construction), along with technical documentation that describes the equipment in detail.
The person granted a Certificate of Conformity is referred to as the Certificate Holder and can be located anywhere in the supply chain, including overseas. In such an instance, a Responsible Supplier may use a Certificate of Conformity under agreement, to facilitate registration of a Level 3 product in ANZ.
All in-scope electrical equipment offered for sale by Responsible Suppliers within ANZ must clearly show the Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM). This applies to Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 product.
According to EESS guidelines, the RCM should be placed on the external surface of the product, as near as possible to the model identification. In cases where the size or nature of equipment prevents this, it is acceptable for the mark to be placed on packaging or promotional material. In the case of Prysmian cable, the RCM identifier is printed on the product label. To facilitate easy identification of compliance, the product certification number is also printed on the cable sheath.
In addition to product marking, users can access Responsible Supplier registration details and product information via the ERAC national database search facility: https://equipment.erac.gov.au/registration.
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