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Testing and Tagging - Visual Aspects

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We get many calls to our technical helpline about the requirements for the Testing and Tagging of electrical appliances. This is what all Test and Tag Contractors must do - without exception.

Testing and Tagging consists of four main activities:

  • formal visual inspection
  • formal electrical tests
  • affixing a Pass/Fail label and quarantining failed items for repair or disposal
  • recording results

This section deals with aspects of Visual Inspection only.

It is helpful if the user does regular visual checks as a part of ongoing awareness and vigilance.  Ideally, these  should be performed prior to every use.  

Most faults or damage can be found just by looking. Users should be encouraged to look critically at the electrical equipment in their own working environment. Staff should be given straightforward training and instruction on how to carry out a simple visual check before using any electrical appliance.

Before connecting or plugging in look for obvious damage. The following may be used as a general guide, but is not necessarily exhaustive or applicable to every situation.


  • Plug casing (including back cover and base).
    Is it cracked, split or heat damaged?  
    Are there signs of carbon flash? 
  • Is the Plug current rating equal to or greater than the 
    current rating of the remote socket?
    OR the maximum load current of the equipment?
  • Pins: - 
    Are they bent or worn? 
    Any sign of arcing?
    Is the insulation intact (on newer plugs only)?
    Are the pins the correct length with the Earth pin being the longest? 
    Has the Earth pin been filed down from 15 Amp to fit in a 10 Amp socket?
  • Wired according to colour code? - 
    Active: Preferably Brown or Red - but can be any colour
    Neutral: Preferably Blue or Black - but can be any colour
    Earth: Must be Green/Yellow striped or Green
  • Approval? 
    Does it have an Australian approval mark? 
  • Rating
    Does it have both 240 volt and current ratings?


  • Socket casing (including back cover, skirt and base)
    Is it cracked, split, heat or chemically damaged?   
    Has the skirt been removed?
    Do any included neon indicators still work?
    Any flash marks?
    Some sockets have a lower temperature melting point plastic. Overheating is evident when it is difficult to insert a plug and plastic has been expelled out the optional three dowels on the face of the socket. 
  • Contacts 
    Are they pitted or worn?  
    Do they hang on to the plug pins?
  • Wired according to colour code - 
    Active: Preferably Brown or Red - but can be any colour
    Neutral: Preferably Light Blue or Black - but can be any colour
    Earth: Must be Green/Yellow striped or Green
  • Approval 
    Does it have an Australian approval mark on it? 
  • Rating
    Does it have 240 volt and current/wattage (VA) ratings?

Flexible Cable: 

  • Is there cable damage?
    Are there cuts, abrasions or penetrations to the cable covering revealing base insulation?
     Is the coloured insulation of the internal wires showing? 
  • Double Insulated appliances should be wired with two core flex and not three core with the earth wire cut out.
  • Are there non-proprietary joints, including taped joins and repairs in the cable?
  • It is flexible cable and not building cable? 
    Three phase - some inappropriately use orange circular or building cable and not flexible cable.
  • Kinks and twists where the flexible conductors are actually kinked.
  • Chemical damage due to solvents softening outer sheath. (Methyl Ethyl Ketone, a solvent destroys common plastics) 
  • Hardening - due to long-term exposure to petroleum products, oils etc.
  • Approval and Rating 
    Is it approved for use as flexible mains wiring? 
    Does it have Australian approval or IEC 227 (10 Amp Cable) markings on it? 
  •  Has it been 'cooked', overheated (burnt/melted) or does it have the tell tale twist of an overheated cable?

Cable to Plug/Socket or Point of Entry 

  • Is the outer sheath of the flex firmly anchored within the plug or socket?
  • Are there cable entry grommets especially where flex enters a metal enclosure?
  • Are there cable anchors at the point of entry?
  • Is the outer covering of the cable being gripped where it enters the plug, socket or equipment?
  • Has the cable been strained at the point of entry?

Guards and Covers 

  • Is there damage to the outer cover of the equipment or obvious loose parts or screws?
  • Has the case been repaired?
    Double insulated drills with cracked cases are a 'fail' even when repaired with glue etc. as the 'Insulation System' is deemed to be compromised.

Switches and Indicators

  • Are the switches functioning correctly with clearly marked indications for the On/Off positions?
  • Do all indicator lamps work when power is applied?

Any Other Situations

A deviation of appliance presentation or modification may be sufficient to constitute a 'fail' when the equipment is 'not as the manufacturer intended'.

Note:- This information has been presented in good faith and should not be interpreted as technical advice applicable to your particular situation. 

Rev 1.03


Last modified: October 12, 2008    VicTesters Privacy Policy      Copyright VicTesters 2005 - 2008