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 What does Test & Tag actually mean?
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 Return to top of page · Post #: 1 · Written at 10:09:41 AM on 16 July 2020.
Relayautomatic's avatar
 Location: Canberra, ACT
 Member since 24 April 2012
 Member #: 1136
 Postcount: 122

I have seen tags on electronic equipment in various places and understood that it meant that it was proof that whatever item the tag was stuck on was safe to use. While tags were seen on commercial premises I have not seen them on equipment in any of the government offices or establishments for 40+ years. During my OH&S training Test & Tag was never mentioned although all aspects of fire, mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and safe work practices was covered.

More recently when my mother went into a nursing home and I was setting up her room, I was told that her TV set and clock radio would have to be tested and tagged by the resident maintenance 'engineer'. When I spoke to him (quite a good bloke) about getting the items tested, he told me that he was a plumber by trade but was required to fix everything in the place from door locks to shower taps. He also maintained the computer and comms networks and any associated electrics. He readily admitted that he had no formal training in electricity/electronics but had picked up what he knew by talking to and watching other tradies. As for Test & Tag, he just used a tester that had been left behind by the previous 'engineer'. As I did not know exactly how the tester worked I was concerned that it might have 'test to destruction' effect on electronic equipment. We agreed that I would give him the power cord for the TV and the plug pack power supply for the radio and he would test these. The next day he returned both with tags attached. The plug pack still worked so everyone was happy. However as a safety measure I thought that it was all a bit pointless.

Some five years later, I recently visited an antiques market in the never-ending search for old telephones (and was successful). One thing I noticed was a number of "Steampunk" lights made from a range of old industrial items bolted or welded together. Some of these were AVO multimeters but others were hydraulic parts with pressure meters attached. Many were made from bits of scrap metal and gear wheels. Old light fittings had been struck on top with bare incandescent globes. The common factor was lots of exposed metal parts. Each lamp had a power cord with an in-line switch. Many cords were the old black rubber covered type with '40s/'50s bakelite plugs fitted. I was particularly impressed by one that had a vintage bakelite in-line switch marked, "Made in USA. 120V". Other lamps had Chinese made 2-conductor plastic cords with molded plugs of the outstanding quality found in $2 shops. There was no visible evidence of these lamps being double insulated. Regardless of artistic merit, clearly none of these lamps would meet current electrical safety standards. The final touch was that each lamp carried a T&T tag dated within the last three months.

Returning home, in search of enlightenment, I 'Googled' Test and Tag to see what the qualification was and how one might get certified. There are a number of training establishments that offer one day, on-line courses providing you buy a tester. The $495 course includes instruction on how to visually examine a device to access its safety. On completion of the course one gains a nationally recognised certificate that satisfies AS/NZS 3760. But wait there is more!. For another $180 + GST you can do an extra course that will certify you to fit a 3-pin plug. This is a bit harder course because it is 'face-to-face' in a classroom. Fortunately "No previous electrical knowledge or background is required" for either course. (So my plumber 'engineer' friend would be OK.)

One particular training institute stood out as it claimed to be "Australia's original Test & Tag Training company and industry leaders in training and post-course support". It is part of the Tara Anglican School for Girls in Parramatta. (Tara Anglican School for Girls is an independent Anglican single-sex early learning, primary, and secondary day and boarding school for girls. While other training establishments had pictures of rugged, male tradies clad in hi-vis vests sitting around in a classroom, the Tara School had a picture of a group of young girls in school uniforms sitting by the front gates. I can only assume that this was an implied statement about equality in trade training and leading the way for women to enter a male dominated workplace.)

The members of this community must have a good knowledge of the hazards inherent in electronic/electrical equipment and safe working practices otherwise they would not be alive to read this now. Brad has wisely put a warning on this site but I wonder if assessing the safety of a valve radio, particularly an AD/DC 'hot chassis' set, is covered in a T&T course.

But returning to my question, what does Test & Tag actually mean? It would seem from my limited experience, not very much.

Do any of the Forum members/readers hold a T&T qualification or have more relevant experience of this subject? Would those with higher trade or other electrical qualification care to comment on the value of T&T. Have I just found two examples of bad practice when overall T&T does have value in keeping the wider community safe?

See:

https://www.testandtagtraining.com.au/what-is-test-and-tag
https://www.testandtagtraining.com.au/plug-top-replacement-course
https://www.oztagg.com.au/Test_And_Tag_Courses.html
https://www.tara.nsw.edu.au/


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 2 · Written at 10:30:49 AM on 16 July 2020.
Vintage Pete's avatar
 Location: Albury, NSW
 Member since 1 May 2016
 Member #: 1919
 Postcount: 1993

I buy stuff from Op Shops often and I also have had chats with the guys who Test and Tag . The ones that I met are not electricians ,But they had a Bisic understanding and could use a meter .
As fot the Lamps sold at markets etc , There is a trend where some people make there own lamps out of junk and sell them at Markets , I have never seen one that was tagged , There build out of all kinds of things and some really are like Art ,But not safe I would Imagine .

Pete

Tell you what I do see being sold about the place , Remember those old Kid lamps from the 60s and 70s made from soft plastic in the shape of cartoon characters where the Globe sat inside them? They are often at markets and were responsible for many fires years ago . I often mention it to anybody buying or selling one


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 3 · Written at 12:43:05 PM on 16 July 2020.
GTC's avatar
 GTC
 Location: Sydney, NSW
 Member since 28 January 2011
 Member #: 823
 Postcount: 5997

Brad, who is a sparky, will no doubt have input here.

My own experience, over many years of working in offices, is where the T&T was done by the electrical contractors who maintained lighting, etc, in the buildings, and who used official T&T machines on trolleys and that had calibration dates on them.

In all that time I have only ever seen one item defected by the testing device and that was an old bar radiator that a woman had under her desk. They cut the cord off it and labelled it defective.

As most electrical and electronic gear in the offices was replaced after a few years, either because it was on rental contract (photocopiers) or out of date (computers, printers, etc) the gear didn't have time to become worn out to the extent that it would fail the T&T type tests, so I always figured that these T&T exercises were a licence to print money.

That said, I have seen some scary stuff out there in the public and my guess is that T&T done in older domestic residences would probably fail a considerable number of items.

I would also add that I can see the necessity for T&T in workplaces such as building sites where extension leads and tools have a rough life.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 4 · Written at 12:49:41 PM on 16 July 2020.
Ian Robertson's Gravatar
 Location: Belrose, NSW
 Member since 31 December 2015
 Member #: 1844
 Postcount: 1895

Something must have happened recently, Vinnies would not accept ANY electrical goods in the boxes I took down to Brookvale the other day.

Reason given "We don't have a qualified electrician here at the moment."


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 5 · Written at 3:52:20 PM on 16 July 2020.
Robbbert's avatar
 Location: Sydney, NSW
 Member since 18 September 2015
 Member #: 1801
 Postcount: 1376

I remember from working in the office that the Test and Tag people would turn up about once a year looking for anything that didn't have a tag. They just looked at the power cords and put a tag on them. I thought it was just some kind of scam, but if the company wanted it done then who am I to argue.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 6 · Written at 5:04:18 PM on 16 July 2020.
Vintage Pete's avatar
 Location: Albury, NSW
 Member since 1 May 2016
 Member #: 1919
 Postcount: 1993

Brookvale Vinnie's?
That one never takes electric stuff.
I put a post on this forum relating to when I took a lot of stuff there last year while moving house.....others do though, That's a crappy Vinnie's that one ,, expensive! Not worth getting out of the car too look.

Pete


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 7 · Written at 5:48:49 PM on 16 July 2020.
Jimb's Gravatar
 Location: Kanahooka, NSW
 Member since 18 November 2016
 Member #: 2012
 Postcount: 645

Any licensed electrician can test and tag items using a megger and multimeter.
TAFE in NSW ran test and tag courses and if you did the course and bought an approved tester you were allowed to test and tag . The testers are very expensive around $1000.00 and they have to be sent away regularly for recalibration. I still hold my electricians licence and test and tag stuff for my local Dapto Anglican Church opp shop . I am a member of the church. The opp shop has been shut down for months due to the virus . We are hoping to open up again at the end of the month. The way things are going who knows.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 8 · Written at 5:58:38 PM on 16 July 2020.
Jimb's Gravatar
 Location: Kanahooka, NSW
 Member since 18 November 2016
 Member #: 2012
 Postcount: 645

I should have added a few items I test very seldom pass. These items are electric fry pans they rely on the temperature probe pushing home against a metal contact riveted to the pan they get covered in fat and the rivets are not that great either. Sometimes I have managed to repair them and get a good earth contact . Mostly they are not worth spending time on because our shop sells stuff super cheap to help out the local community. The other most common failure are cordless electric jugs and kettles again the earthing is a major problem due to cheap and nasty insulation and contacts on the mating base .I fail more than 70% of frypans and jugs.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 9 · Written at 6:02:45 PM on 16 July 2020.
Brad's avatar
 Administrator
 Location: Greenwich, NSW
 Member since 15 November 2005
 Member #: 1
 Postcount: 6333

Test and tag was brought in a long time ago now to try and address the high number of electrocutions caused by worn or incorrectly assembled flexible cords.

In one case I heard of, a bloke who made himself an extension lead decided that it'd be a great idea to fit a piggyback plug to the socket end of the lead. He plugged it in, grabbed the other end and it was goodbye Charlie. Following that, aftermarket piggyback plugs were banned. The only piggyback plugs you can buy now are moulded ones fitted to leads by manufacturers. I still have a small stock of ones that can be screwed in place but I only use them for personal use. I don't make leads for others with them fitted.

My interpretation of the purpose of a lead tag is to testify that the said lead and plug is in full working order and in good condition at the time the lead was tested. It does not certify that the equipment is safe to use, aside from testing that it isn't live.

Victoria is the only state that requires second hand goods (such as valve radios) to be tested and tagged before being sold. This is a complete waste of money and time, given that the radio's lead may well be the original and testing may not identify any potential faults and one certainly cannot tag a radio which is fitted with a perished cord. If one fits a new cord to an otherwise unrestored radio, the test and tag process will then provide the new owner with a very false sense of security because whilst the cord may be 100%, the radio will not be. People who make these nanny state laws just don't think about the possible consequences before doing so.

When I buy a radio with useless lead tags and other warnings attached, I spend time peeling them off before heading away from the auction, sale, swap meet, etc. The fact that stickers leave unwanted residue is more of a concern to me than the useless information on the stickers.


‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾
A valve a day keeps the transistor away...

 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 10 · Written at 1:32:13 PM on 17 July 2020.
Fred Lever's Gravatar
 Location: Toongabbie, NSW
 Member since 19 November 2015
 Member #: 1828
 Postcount: 872

Test and Tag came about because:

1/ what was a simple thing with cords that even your normal electrician could do became a hard thing.
( the RED was ACTIVE, BLACK was neutral, GREEN was earth, now some colour is active and a greeny thing earth, I think)
Plugs and sockets showed what colour was hooked to what pin.
Now we get our overseas contractors to make "safe" leads for us, hence next item:

2/ we get cords and appliances made in countries that could not give a flying fig.
(How many you want what colour, oh we mix up A and E again, so solly we send more!)

Then we shut down TAFE so we made any body from a builders labourer to a rocket scientist "certified" after a one day course and capable of "certifying" that your lead or appliance is safe.

Jesus wept.

Read the back page of the "Contractors Monthly" or whatever it is called nowadays and check out how idiots kill themselves.
Does the Journal still exist?
I have been out of the game for decades now.
I used to work in a world of complying to the Australian Standards, now it is Anything Goes.

Fred.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 11 · Written at 3:08:48 PM on 17 July 2020.
GTC's avatar
 GTC
 Location: Sydney, NSW
 Member since 28 January 2011
 Member #: 823
 Postcount: 5997

Then we shut down TAFE

The way the government abandoned TAFE is criminal. Now, of course, they plan to privatize what remains of it and so it will go the way of universities which are almost wholly dependent on foreign students (paying around 3 times local fees) for their existence.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/nsw-seeks-new-vocational-training-options-for-school-students-20200714-p55c1l.html


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 12 · Written at 3:11:08 PM on 17 July 2020.
Irext's avatar
 Location: Werribee South, VIC
 Member since 30 September 2016
 Member #: 1981
 Postcount: 398

I find it to be a contradiction that mains equipment for industry use has to be tagged and tested but you can go to the big green shed and buy a Chinese power board (known in my industry as "Show stoppers") which are built to absolute minimum standards with very small amounts of copper, poor pin alignment, easily overloaded etc, etc and this is considered okay for domestic use where the chance of misuse is probably far greater.
I'd like to see the statistics for how many house fires are caused by these pieces of rubbish.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 13 · Written at 3:47:54 PM on 17 July 2020.
Vintage Pete's avatar
 Location: Albury, NSW
 Member since 1 May 2016
 Member #: 1919
 Postcount: 1993

Yes, because I worked in the car industry,I have to always check and double check any wiring of leads etc etc , because in car industry blue is often positive and black is often earth.
Then in later cars blue was also neutral.
So because of my past I always check twice with brown ,blue ,green . I have made boo boos wiring up transformer once ,but because I check it ,I saw the boo boo.

Pete


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 14 · Written at 4:43:03 PM on 17 July 2020.
GTC's avatar
 GTC
 Location: Sydney, NSW
 Member since 28 January 2011
 Member #: 823
 Postcount: 5997

and black is often earth.

And then we have 1960s Falcons where black is positive within looms. Back in the day, numerous times I had to repair wiring damage done by mates with Falcons who almost set fire to their cars with some DIY accessory fitting. Ford may have used black as positive on other models too, but I avoided owning Fords all of my life so cannot say.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 15 · Written at 5:21:27 PM on 17 July 2020.
Vintage Pete's avatar
 Location: Albury, NSW
 Member since 1 May 2016
 Member #: 1919
 Postcount: 1993

Any colour wire can be Positive on many cars ,, But you have a little test light with a alligator clip and away you go ,Its not 240 so its safe to play ,Just its very time consuming.........."Fords ?? Lets test your Memory GTC ,, Fords = Found on Rubbish Dumps !
That should take you back a few years ... Pete


 
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