SP03 Electrical and Portable Power Tool Usage


The Queensland Electrical Safety legislation requires a number of precautions to be taken to reduce the risks associated with electrical equipment on construction sites. These include regular testing and tagging by electrical workers (this is three monthly for construction projects in the Regulation and also within AS 3012 – 2003).

The legislation requires all electrical equipment and installations to be connected and used only through an isolating transformer or an earth leakage monitoring unit.

Electrical leads are not to be left on the ground where they can form a tripping hazard or where they can come in contact with ground-water. Where applicable, they are to be kept off ground or floor a minimum of two (2) metres if:

  • the electricity supply is more than 10 metres away,
  • the person using the lead cannot see the plug connecting to the supply, or
  • the lead crosses a passage or access.

The Principal Contractor is also to ensure electrical installations are installed and maintained in accordance with AS 3012 on construction sites.


Electrical Contractor Licence

means a licence authorising a person, whether or not an individual, to perform electrical work as part of a business or undertaking.

Electrical Work Licence

means a licence authorising an individual to perform electrical work.

Exclusion Zone

means the space within the safe approach distances as listed in Table 1 for operating plant working near live electrical lines.


Residual Current Device

Specified Electrical Equipment Means:

  1. a cord extension set, or
  2. a portable outlet device, or
  3. electrical equipment (other than Portable RCDs) that-
    1. is designed to be connected by a flexible cord or plug to low voltage supply, and
    2. is operated by a person to perform Class 1 (construction) or 2 (manufacturing installation, maintenance, repair, fabrication) work


Silverback and subcontracted personnel are to comply with the relevant provisions of the following procedural requirements and references. The typical hazards addressed by this procedure include:

Hazards Risk (Potential)
  • Electrocution
  • Contact with overhead power lines
  • Trips and Falls
  • Contact with or entanglement in – moving parts of electrical equipment
  • Contact with or impact from – flying particles and moving objects
  • Exposure to excessive noise


  • Exposure to task specific hazards such as projectiles, falling objects, noise, heated materials etc.


  1. The following procedure outlines the inspection, testing, tagging and residual current devices electrical requirements that must be ensured on site:
Requirements Requirements
  1. Inspection and testing of all electrical equipment
3 monthly intervals
B. Tagging requirements Tags must show:

  • inspection date
  • next required inspection date
  • plant/serial number of item inspected
  • the name of the inspecting person

Tags must be:

  • durable,
  • readable
  • non-metallic
  • self-adhesive or positively secured,
  • incapable for re-use, and
  • have a bright distinctive surface
  • colour coded to identify the period in which the test was performed (recommended)
C. On site Testing of RCDs Portable RCD’s

  • Daily push button test by user
  • 3 monthly operating time test Fixed RCD’s
  • monthly push button test by user
  • 12 monthly operating time test
  1. Silverback  and subcontractors are to maintain an Electrical Register to demonstrate compliance with the above requirements.
  2. Temporary electrical installations are to be installed and maintained in accordance with AS 3012.
  3. Electrical leads are not to be positioned in mud, water or areas where they may be damaged or create a tripping hazard. Measures are to be taken to protect electrical leads from damage on-site, e.g. supported off the floor or ground on insulated stands or hangers.
  1. No piggy back leads/plugs or double adaptors are to be used on site.

Electrical Leads and Power-Boards

  1. Flexible cords used in extension leads must be heavy duty sheathed AS/NZS3191, have a minimum 10amp rating, and a minimum cable size of 1mm2 for a maximum cable length of 25m (longer lengths require heavier cables – see table 1 following)

Table 1 – Maximum Lengths of Flexible Cord

Cord extension set rating (A) Conductor area mm2 Maximum length of flexible cord (m)
10 1 25
1.5 35
2.5 60
4 100
15/16 1.5 25
2.5 40
4 65
20 2.5 30
20 4 50

NOTE: Lengths quoted for flexible cords are taken from AS/NZS3199 and are based on a voltage drop of 5% of 230V at rated current for each cross sectional area.

  1. Leads must not be joined to exceed the maximum length for the thickness of the cable.
  2. Plugs must comply with AS/NZS3112 and extension sockets must comply with AS/NZS3120 (shrouded).
  3. Leads must not be used in a coiled or reeled configuration.
  4. Portable power boards must be Class H and must comply with AS/NZS3111 or 4898.
  5. Where three (3) or more power points are fitted to the portable power board, overload protection complying with AS/NZS3111 or 4898 must be used.

Overhead Powerlines

  1. Safe approach distances as specified in the table on the next page are to be determined by plant

operators and/or Silverback’s Construction Supervisor prior to any work commencing near overhead


Table 1 – Safe Approach Distances in Millimetres

Nominal Phase to Phase Voltage (kV)

(Exposed unless otherwise specified)

Untrained Persons
Untrained Persons Operation of operating plant Operation of vehicle
Insulated low voltage with consultation & insulation verified by Authorised Person (AP) No contact 1000 300
Low voltage (LV) with consultation 1000 3000 600
Low voltage (LV) without consultation 3000
>LV & up to 33 with consultation 2000 900
>LV & up to 33 without consultation 3000
>33 & up to 50 2100
>50 & up to 66
>66 & up to 110
>110 & up to 132
>132 & up to 220 4500 6000 2900
>220 & up to 275 5000
>275 & up to 330 6000 3400
>330 & up to 400 8000 4400
>400 & up to 500

Code of Practice: Working Near Exposed Live Parts- Electrical Safety Act 2002

  1. No worker is to operate any crane or plant in situations where any of the following is within the
  • exclusion zone:
  • any part of the crane or plant,
  • a person working in the bucket of an elevating work platform (EWP),
  • any hand tools or other equipment held by any person involved with the operation, or the load being moved.
  1. A safety observer is to work with the operator of any plant and equipment, which could enter the

exclusion zone. The safety observer must have no other duty and must only observe one crane or

piece of plant at a time.

  1. If work is required to be undertaken which is likely to intrude into the safe approach distances (i.e.

exclusion zones) for the circumstances listed above special provisions to be made include:

  • to notify the power authority before commencing work,
  • to obtain written permission from the power authority,
  • not to commence work until a pre-start site meeting and a risk assessment detailing the necessary controls to be implemented, has been completed.


  1. Temperature variations can cause variation in the sag of electrical lines up to 1 metre for spans under 50 metres.
  2. Swing of any overhead power line in wind should also be taken into account.

Portable Power Tool Use

  1. All guards shall be in place and the tool is to be inspected prior to use.
  2. All tools are to be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications. (If in doubt see tool

instruction booklet).

  1. Only competent persons are permitted to operate portable electrical tools on-site. (If you haven’t

been trained in the safe use of the equipment: Don’t use it).

  1. If using portable electrical equipment at height, measures are to be taken to ensure that tools cannot

be dropped onto workers below.

  1. Unauthorised personnel are to be kept out of the work area at all times.
  2. Tools that are damp or wet or have been exposed to the rain are not to be used, unless they have been

examined by an electrician and cleared for safe use.

  1. Safety goggles and hearing protection must be worn as a minimum by operators of portable electrical

equipment, as well as those persons at risk of contact with projectiles and noise given off by the

equipment operation. The wearing of loose clothing or jewellery is to be avoided and long hair is to be

tied back where there is a risk of entanglement.

  1. Portable electrical equipment generating heated material (ie. sparks, hot metal etc.) shall not be used

in the vicinity of flammable or combustible materials.

  1. The equipment must be allowed to stop moving before being placed on the ground or work surface.
  2. All portable powered tools are to be electrically isolated or disconnected prior to changing blades,

discs, bits, etc or undertaking other maintenance procedures.

  1. Only manufacturers recommended components are to be fitted, including blades, discs, etc and they

are to be checked prior to starting the equipment.


QLD Electrical Safety Act 2002

QLD Electrical Safety Regulation 2002

Code of Practice: Working Near Exposed Live Parts

AS/NZS 3000 – 2000: Electrical Installations (known as Australian/New Zealand Wiring Rules)

AS/NZS 3760 – 2000: In Service Safety Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment

AS/NZS 3012 – 2003: Electrical Installations – Construction and Demolition Sites


(Items 2, 3, 5-9 & to monitor compliance with this procedure) – Construction Supervisor

(Items 1,2,4, 6-22) – Subcontractors and Silverback personnel specifically working with electricity

and portable power tools on site


  • Completed electrical registers are to be maintained on file on site and/or in specific subcontractor files.

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