Electrical Safety

The ANU has an electrical safety management procedure that must be followed and places considerable onus upon individual responsibility. You should in your own interests familiarise yourself with the ANU policy and the ANU brochure 'Be safe with Electricity

Safety Inspection Test and Tag

Do not use equipment that does not have a current safety test tag attached to it.

All equipment that is capable of being connected to the electricity supply must be inspected for electrical safety, and tagged, prior to it being connected to the mains supply. Note smaller plug-in devices such as phone chargers, USB chargers, laptop chargers also require testing and tagging.

Test and tag of equipment can only out by an approved person. The School's Electronics Unit can assist with testing up to five pieces of equipment at a time. To log a job request contact the Electronics unit here.

Bulk testing of departments/areas is undertaken by an ANU electrical test & tag officer. To book his service log a job through the building infrastructure work request system.

Equipment constructed or modified in-house

Items that are constructed or modified are required to undergo a 'Electrical Item Certification' before use. This is undertaken by an approved electrical person, and the School's Electronics Unit (EU) staff will assist you. This form must be completed by the EU prior to use.

Danger Do Not Operate label

A danger label or tag is fixed to equipment that is damaged, requires maintenance, servicing, or has moving parts that may be a danger. If you find equipment that needs repair bring it to the attention of your supervisor and electrical personel. It is an offence to tamper with tags or use equipment before it is rectified.  Full details of this procedure are located here


Electrical Appliances

The normal electricity supply in Canberra is 240 volts AC, 50 Hz. Note that some overseas wiring codes differ to our standards. All appliances or equipment must be inspected and tagged prior to use.

a. Power boards, Extension cords, double adaptors:

"Home made" powerboards are not permitted in Australia. Only commercially available powerboards are to be used. Extension cords should only be used as a temporary solution and are not to be installed as fixed wiring, unless fixed above floor level. Double adaptors or similar are NOT to be used in the ANU as they have no overload protection.

b. Battery chargers:

For rechargeable batteries, use the appropriate charger for the battery type. If a rechargeable battery is overcharged, it has a risk of overheating, smoldering, emitting hazardous fumes, fire or explosion.

c. Privately owned electrical equipment

The use of privately-owned electrical equipment is discouraged. Any non-ANU owned electrical equipment must be tested and tagged before being used on site at RSPE.  Contact your local technical staff or administrator for more information.

d. Personal Heaters

The buildings within the School are heated and the use of personal heaters is not permitted. In particular electric radiator (bar) heaters or any fan heater without tip-over cut-off feature are a potential safety hazard. If you have a problem with the temperature in your area, please discuss with the Maintenance team.

Building wiring installation

Any changes, additions or repairs to the electrical wiring of the buildings are not permitted except those undertaken by an approved A-grade licensed electrician.

If you need electrical work done urgently contact the Maintenance team.  

Research apparatus and Power cut considerations

In the event of an unexpected mains power cut or failure, issues can arise that research areas might not have anticipated. Consider the following possibilites when conducting a risk assessment.

The example below summarises some items that can be affected. This list is to alert staff to risk factors they need to consider when installing / upgrading / modifying control systems.

Experimental apparatus can have 3 main control systems:

  • Electrical switching of solenoid valves on or off (gas inlets, pumps)
  • Compressed-air switching of solenoid valves
  • Thermal control (via water pump circulation / cooling air circulation / sensors)

All the above rely on electricity at some point in the process to operate, and if a power cut occurs issues can arise. The worst case is when power is OFF for an extended period, or outside work hours / late at night.

Items to consider in event of a power cut:


  • No lights. Emergency lighting is temporary with batteries lasting approx. 2-3 hrs till total darkness in the area / laboratory.
  • Street lights might not be affected, but building and car parks can be.

Laboratory services

  • School compressed air is off (although the accumulator tank should have pressure for a period).
  • Computers and diagnostics are off.
  • Uninterruptable Power Supplies (UPS) – Gives a short period of time on batteries to enable the area to manually turn equipment off. The ultimate purpose is to enable an orderly shutdown that won’t put experimental equipment at risk. A UPS is not to run the equipment indefinitely.
  • Communication issues - IP phones have battery backup for around 30 minutes and after that might not work. Copper network phones still exist at the emergency panels, RSPE L3 and NP control room.
  • Fume cupboards no longer vent. Note: They do not restart automatically, so fume cupboards are required to be manually switched ON by the area.
  • Sample storage risk is fridges are off, freezer can defrost with water on lab floor.
  • Vacuum pump venting

Thermal control

Water circulation pumps and temp controlled baths stop.

No laboratory air circulation, device cooling fans, Lab temperature change, sensors no longer work.

< Previous Chapter - Contents - Next Chapter >

Updated:  28 July 2021/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPhys/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster