Testing & reliability of Safety Switches
Testing & reliability of Safety Switches
November 16, 2016Admin Team

Safety Switches also known as RCD`s or ELCB`s are required to be installed in every apartment and common property switchboard. See the other articles on these subjects elsewhere in the member’s library. This paper attempts to answer 2 basic questions; 1. How reliable are safety switches and 2. How often do they need to be tested?

1. How reliable are Safety Switches?

In January 2011 the Department of Justice released a research study into safety switches. This is copied below for your information. The study concluded that:-
• Safety switches were a highly reliable (96% to 99%) electrical safety device however these were not exempt from early life failure.
• Regular testing maintains reliability and
• Age (< 10 years) or location may have little effect on the performance or reliability of a safety switch.

The protective life of safety switches research report
Since 2007, the Electrical Safety Office has conducted a research project into the reliability of safety switches and the physical environmental and engineering factors that may determine the useful life of a safety switch.
The research project aimed to benchmark failure rates of safety switches in Queensland.

By researching the general failure rate and identifying significant influencing factors, control measures for managing the ageing population of safety switches may be better understood and augmented.
Overview (PDF, 198.4 KB)( http://www.justice.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/131043/eso-safetyswitch-report-overview.pdf )
Project stages
Stage 1 A review of international literature – April 2007 (PDF, 972.8 KB)( http://www.justice.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/130142/eso-safetyswitch-report-stage1.pdf )
Stage 2 Initial consultation and scope – November 2009 (PDF, 166.2 KB)( http://www.justice.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/130143/eso-safetyswitch-report-stage2.pdf )
Stage 3 Records and analysis of domestic safety switch survey tests – January 2011 (PDF, 822.6 KB)

2. How often do safety switches need to be tested?

The Queensland Government Electrical Safety Website www.eso.qld.gov.au contains detailed information which regulates the frequency of testing required for safety switches and other items.
Here is a hot link to the relevant page:-
While there is no direct reference to rental properties, these would come under the classification of “service work”. The regulations for which appear below.

Service Work At least 12 monthly intervals by a competent person or connected to a safety switch. ·        Use the inbuilt test button, at least every 6 months.

·        An operating time/current test by a competent person, at least every 12 months.


·        Longer test intervals may apply. Consult the Electrical Safety Regulation 2002( http://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/LEGISLTN/CURRENT/E/ElectricalSR02.pdf ) and AS/NZS 3760 In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment( http://infostore.saiglobal.com/store/Details.aspx?DocN=AS199567444204 ) (non-Queensland Government link).

ARAMA recommends that safety switches are tested for failure at least every 6 months by the method prescribed and every 12 months by a competent (licensed) person.
This is advice of a general nature and is not to be taken as specific to your circumstances. It is highly recommended that you seek expert advice from a licensed electrical contractor in relation to these matters. More information can be gained by viewing the website or calling the Electrical Safety Hotline on 1300 650 662.

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