Lack of Electrical Safety

Chris15

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I had a long reply started, but I'll attempt to recreate what mattered of it...
I know this has been dormant for a month or two, but I hope what I'm about to add might be worthwhile...

Hughesie, the amount of voltage across the lamps is not the concern; it would be the current draw. If I have 25 W globes, say in music scone lights running at 240V, for a standard 10A dimmer, I can safely connect 96 of them, boy would that be a hairy looking piggyback!

100v PAR lamps in Oz: 240v PAR64s have been around here for a while, but no one uses them. See the 240s have a lamp life in the region of 300hrs, but with the 120ish you get lamp lives in the order of 2000hrs... do the maths...

Piggybacks: Warning: long: Love em. Double adaptors on the other hand are evil. You can get extension cables with moulded piggybacks from the supermarket. Black cables with moulded plugs DO exist, but not through those channels. People in entertainment should be able to get them. Unassembled plugs used to be available retail, but these days you need to order them from Rexel or Turks or the like, but I know that just before Christmas, there was about a 6 week wait, Clipsal need to physically manufacture another batch. Black non moulded piggybacks are also evil. In theatre, you are meant to visually check the Earth before you plug something in every time. How can you do that with a black piggyback? The piggybacks with screws are not kosher these days and it's or the same reason that you can't get them retail anymore, and here's the story. Some guy, I believe it was a muso type in Canberra (enough said eh?) must have found to too much of a chore to make sure he got his cable the right way around so made up his extension with a piggyback each end... You are all smart enough to work out what happened next... and so now you can only get them wholesale.

Piggybacks are really good in the back of equipment racks, rather neat and once you cable tie the whole assembly to the side of the rack it's all supported nicely. And when you need to daisy racks of say mic splitters for a large show, it's so very simple. That or a desk lamp or a mobile charger, the options are endless... I must get a photo one day...

But having said that, in place like construction sites, they are a no no. In those places, it's basically industrial powerboards only, with REAL breakers and half the time an RCD. They is not cheap though... Powerboards without an inbuilt circuit breaker do not meet standard and should fail test and tag on the visual. Fuses are not kosher either.

Hughesie mentioned these were connected to a Minipak - it's a 12ch Strand analog dimmer, 2k5 per channel, fused with 10A HRC I think M205. Control on 14 pin Mil Spec Cannon. Reasonably good unit except for being analog...

Three phase plugs - the Clipsal Wilco variety... Well 90% of venues have 32 amp outlets installed. BUT, these days, after pressure from Electrical regulator types, Jands and I believe LSC would also and now shipping all products with 40 amp plugs, cheap Chinese ones at that on a so called flexible cable... but another rant for another time... So you get an issue because 40A won't fit into 32A unless one files away some keyways (or swaps for an old housing but that's naughty anyway.) Clipsal make a version of the wall socket that has a mechanical interlock. Now if you go and have a look at your plug, you'll find a cutout in the plastic opposite the Earth pin & keyway... If you have the interlock version of the socket, then when you turn that switch to ON, a mechanical device comes down into that cutout and you can't pull the plug out until you turn the switch off... Nice idea me thinks, shame only a handful of people use them...

But I can tell you that these days at least the big audio companies (not sure about lighting), Norwest, McLean, IJS, etc. have all gone over to IEC 60309 "ceeform" plugs that meet international standard. Clipsal & HPM both make them if people want them as do a number of other suppliers. Under AS/NZS 3002:2002 Electrical Installations: Shows and Carnivals, in New Zealand, the use of IEC 60309 plugs & sockets is allowable, but in Australia it seems that the rules do not currently permit it… Those companies commonly are coming off either tails into a switchboard or powerlocks / camlocks etc. and from then on are in their own little world and so can use IEC60309 and in some cases, not giving people the option to ‘borrow’ power can be a good thing, but they still need only work with their own stuff. The IEC60309 has the benefit of being locking, something most other connectors are somewhat lacking in…

Now someone was stupid enough to open the can of worms on test and tag, beware folks, this will be a long one… A tag proves that WHEN the item was tested, it was ‘safe’. Now in theory, everyone does the test properly, in practice you have got to be kidding me… A proper test starts with a full visual inspection, looking for any knicks, cuts, curliness, stretching etc in the cable, closely examines the plug and socket for any signs of damage and where there are transparent boots, it’s normally a good thing to check for signs of stress there as well. This however means that you need a cable that has no gaff or anything else on it because those things could be hiding cable damage… Then the electrical test vary dependent on the nature of the equipment. An extension lead, powerboard etc. gets an Earth bond test <1 ohm to pass (plug to socket), an insulation resistance test (short active & neutral and send current between there and Earth – can’t remember the pass value… the machine does it for me…) and a polarity test – have active & neutral been reversed? Equipment with an Earthed chassis gets the same minus the polarity test. Double insulated equipment gets an insulation resistance test as well, this time shorting active & neutral and measuring between any exposed metal object… But don’t quote me on those tests, I’m spouting them off the top of my head and can’t be bothered going and looking up AS3760.

Now frequency… In hire type situations, every 3 months, in other situations, I can’t remember the rules, but things like office equipment that doesn’t move is 10 years from memory, though they’ve changed the rules on that I think and you actually can just test it once and leave it… In construction, it’s monthly, even though the Australian Standard prescribes no interval more frequent than three monthly…

I’ve seen a patchbay full of stuff that never should have passed the visual, I mean when I can see 75mm of inner conductor, that should have been an instant fail… Or you get the flip side where a school had their patchbay condemned before Christmas, three days before a show, because the piggybacks had screws in them, which I might add, were compliant at the time of installation and in my opinion the tester just didn’t know the rules, but this was a contractor for the education department and I don’t need to say any more than that…

Now would someone explain a bit of ‘logic’ for me? Lights which are in a storeroom get tested. Lights on a bar do not… Do these people not understand that we move lights? And in my opinion, the patch system between socket and plug should be treated as an extension cable, because in reality it is exactly that, but it seems that is not the way things are done… Why bother doing these things at all if people won’t do them properly? Oh wait, I was being forgetful… NONE of this is for you safety… It’s to give insurers one more reason not to pay up on a claim, like so much of this OH&S crap we get stuck with…

Hope some of the stuff buried in the rant was useful… have a look at this also, some good things to note [URL="http://www.juliusmedia.com/c...tion=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=74[/url]...

And here endeth the rant...
 

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