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Improving our industry

To be a successful and sustainable manufacturer in today’s climate it is necessary to be socially, ethically and environmentally responsible—from the purchasing of raw materials, through manufacturing methodologies, to safeguarding the safety and health of employees, and the observance of business ethics. A good way to measure performance and safety of finished goods is through compliance.

As a manufacturer of electrical equipment and appliances, Legrand Australia has to comply with many standards, including those for safety, performance, efficiency and electromagnetic interference. These standards represent basic minimum requirements that need to be met by all manufacturers. They help provide a surety to the end user and further serve to regulate and safeguard the industry. While no guarantee of ultimate product quality, compliance standards do ensure a level playing field; every manufacturer has to comply with the same requirements if they are going to legally sell a product in the market.

Legrand Australia takes compliance extremely seriously and it is a factor that drives the product development journey from the initial design stage to the introduction of new ranges. In-house research and development help ensure that compliance requirements are designed into all our products from inception, just as we factor in performance, appearance and ergonomics.

Safety standards provide a good example of the company’s attitude to compliance in general. Legrand Australia strongly believes in the chain of responsibility for safety—from manufacturer, through wholesalers and retailers, to contractors and finally to the end user. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and each link has its own role to play to ensure only compliant products are manufactured, specified, sold and fitted-out.

In Australia, we are governed by international and national standards for safety, as well as different state requirements. The main international standards we need to observe are those developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), which dictates high-level safety requirements. However, because Australia has a unique plug and socket system, it is necessary to have an appendix to the international standards to include unique Australian requirements.

 

Electrical Equipment Safety System

The Electrical Equipment Safety System (EESS) is national database that registers approval of all electrical products in Australia. There are three categories of these—Level 1, 2 and 3—based on the risk assessment of using the product, with Level 3 representing the highest risk. Manufacturers need to be registered with the EESS in order to be licensed to sell Level 1 products, such as a table lamp for example, although these goods themselves do not need to be registered. Medium-risk Level 2 items require registration on the EESS scheme, plus a signed declaration of compliance to a relevant standard based on a test report.

By comparison, the highest-risk Level 3 products—such as power sockets, heat lamps and portable fan heaters—need to be tested by an independent third-party laboratory and then approved by the state regulator in order to obtain a signed declaration of compliance. Generally speaking, Level 3 products are products with a higher risk of electric shock or fire, such as those with exposed earth metal, or which have water or heat associated with them. They are regarded as being products that have historically caused safety issues.

To help ensure compliance, Legrand Australia has a dedicated department looking after compliance, and operates its own NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities) certified testing laboratory. The process to register a Level 3 product for safety compliance begins with a check to identify the standards with which it needs to conform and the specific tests required. The product is then submitted for testing and a test report obtained. This is submitted for approval to the state-based regulator (or licensed third-party certifier), which issues the compliance certificate. The product is then registered on the EESS national database.

Legrand Australia is heavily invested in the ongoing development of compliance standards, leading by example and sharing its extensive industry expertise through widespread involvement in numerous committees within the IEC, EESS, Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards (GEMS) and the NSW state regulator. Undoubtedly, compliance standards have dramatically improved safety over time, as evident by the reduction in the number of fatalities arising from electrical appliances.

In the last 50 years, these fatal accidents have fallen by a factor of ten, in spite of the exponential increase in use of electrical equipment during this period. Where it was once commonplace for end users to receive electric shocks from appliances, it is now extremely rare. In fact, most of the fatalities that currently occur are industry professionals rather than end users utilising appliances.

Interestingly, the Australian compliance regime is unique in the world. While most countries’ compliance standards rely on manufacturers self-declaring that their products meet all necessary standards, in Australia compliance is a pre-market intervention: here, it is illegal to offer a product for sale without certification. Without doubt, this helps to ensure that electrical appliances are now safer than they have ever been. However, the nature of compliance means that standards need to continue to evolve to address emerging product lines and technologies if we are to assure a safer future for our end users and our industry.

Whether you are buying, specifying, installing or using Legrand and HPM products, you can be assured that they comply with the required Australian and International standards. All Legrand Australian compliance certifications and approvals are available for review, either on the Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council’s certification database or on the NSW Office of Fair Trading database1.

(1) http://erac.gov.au/public; http://eapr.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/default.aspx;

Tags: certification, compliance, safety standards