Guide to the Electrical Equipment Safety System (EESS) and the Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM)

Like all regulatory compliance regimes the EESS has both an administrative part and a technical part. The EESS also builds on the current arrangements modifying them and adding to them. If you are a retailer, supplier, manufacturer or importer then you must understand and apply the EESS where required.

The responsibility for the EESS is with the Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council (ERAC) who is responsible for electrical safety across Australia and New Zealand. ERAC has introduced a model legislation which has been implemented in the relevant legislation of Australian States and territories and New Zealand. The aim of the EESS is to create a harmonized legislative environment for electrical equipment safety.

The EESS is based on:

Harmonized electrical safety legislation;

Uniform Equipment Safety Rules;

Australian and New Zealand Standards;

International standards.

Who must comply?

Responsible suppliers must comply. Definition of a “responsible supplier”:

A person who manufactures the electrical equipment in, or imports the equipment into Australia; or

if New Zealand is a participating jurisdiction, a person who manufactures the equipment in, or imports the electrical equipment into, New Zealand.

What equipment must comply?

In-scope equipment must comply. The meaning of in-scope:

It is low voltage electrical equipment that is designed, or marketed as suitable, for household, personal or similar use.

It is immaterial whether the low voltage equipment is also designed or marketed to be used for commercial or industrial purposes.

Note: Low voltage electrical equipment that is rated at:

Greater than 50 V AC RMS or 120V ripple-free DC (extra-low voltage) and

Less than 1000V AC RMS or 1500V ripple-free DC (high voltage)

What about electrical equipment that is not “in-scope”?

Electrical equipment that is not in-scope electrical equipment (for example, a commercial oven in a bakery) still needs to be electrically safe. The designer, manufacturer or importer is obligated to ensure the product is tested and examined to be electrically safe, which is generally shown by compliance with the safety criteria of AS/NZS 3820 Essential safety requirements for electrical equipment.

Also the Work Health and Safety regulations enacted by each state and territory and the Electrical Safety Installation Regulations of each state and territory apply. Guidance is given in the codes of practice that support the legislation. Relevant Australian standards include AS60204.1: Safety of machinery – Electrical equipment of machines.

So does the EESS apply to commercial and industrial electrical equipment designed or marketed exclusively for these environments? No. Does electrical safety legislation and other legislation, regulations and codes of practice apply to the equipment? Yes.

In general Australia is a highly regulated environment and suppliers to the Australian market must inform themselves of the applicable legislation and standards or risk fines and product recalls.

The Levels

The in-scope electrical equipment is classified in one of three levels under the EESS dependent on a risk assessment conducted by ERAC.

Level 1

Equipment classified as Level 1 is potentially low risk.

Before Level 1 equipment can be offered for sale, Responsible Suppliers must:

Ensure that the equipment is electrically safe and it meets the relevant standard(s). Note that reports and technical information to other than Australian and New Zealand standards may be used to demonstrate compliance with the applicable standard(s).

Mark the equipment with the applicable compliance mark. This is the Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM).

Level 1 equipment is not registered on the National Database but Responsible Suppliers of Level 1 equipment must register on the database. So not the equipment per se but the fact that you are a supplier of electrical equipment.

Level 2

Level 2 electrical equipment is classified as a potential medium risk level.

Before Level 2 equipment can be offered for sale Responsible Suppliers must:

Register the item of electrical equipment on the National Database and link it to a registered Responsible Supplier

Compile and hold or have access to a Compliance Folder. The Compliance Folder contains reports and information demonstrating that the equipment complies with the regulations and the applicable standard(s). Note that reports and technical information to other than Australian and New Zealand standards may be used to demonstrate compliance with the applicable standard(s). The Compliance Folder must either be uploaded to the National Database or the address where the Compliance Folder is kept must be recorded on the National Database.

Mark the equipment with the applicable compliance mark. This is the Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM).

Level 3

Level 3 electrical equipment is classified as a potential high risk.

Before Level 3 equipment can be offered for sale Responsible Suppliers must:

Register the item of electrical equipment on the National Database and link it to a registered Responsible Supplier

Have a valid and current Certificate of Conformity from a recognized certifier; and,

Mark the equipment with the applicable compliance mark. This is the Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM).

Note that reports to IEC or similar standards may be used to demonstrate compliance with the applicable standard(s) and so satisfy the requirements of the EESS. When using these reports supplementary technical justification may be used to demonstrate compliance with the Applicable Australian standards.

The applicable standards

For level 1 equipment AS/NZS 3820 (Essential safety requirements for electrical equipment applies). This standard and the applicable Australian and New Zealand standard (AS/NZS) applies. If there is not an AS/NZS standard the applicable International Electrotechnical Commission’s (IEC) standard applies with AS/NZS 3820. If there is no applicable AS/NZS or IEC standard then AS/NZS 3820 applies by itself.

For level 2 or 3 equipment the relevant standard as shown in AS/NZS 4417 (Marking of electrical product to indicate compliance with regulations) applies or the standard that is accepted by a Regulatory Authority as a standard that can be readily applied to that type of equipment.

Note, equipment tested to other standards, most commonly IEC standards, may be supplemented by additional assessment and the equipment found to be compliant with the applicable AS/NZS standard, including AS/NZS 3820, AS/NZS 4417 or that standard accepted by a Regulatory Authority (Australian state or territory or New Zealand government agency).

The Compliance Folder

The Compliance Folder contains all the supporting documentation confirming that the equipment meets all of the relevant standard(s). The reports in the Compliance Folder must be completed by an approved testing entity or a suitably qualified person.