In 2013, the Australian Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council (ERAC) launched their amended Electrical Equipment Safety System (EESS) regulations. They provided essential changes to the electrical safety scenario regarding products sold in Australia and New Zealand. Part of the registration process for suppliers is that a declaration must be submitted. This declaration must state that the equipment they sell meets established standards and is electrically safe, confirmed with the Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM) and the brand name.
Organisations or companies importing foreign-produced products are identified as Responsible Suppliers (RS). They are therefore required to make a declaration that the products they supply or sell meet the determined standards and are electrically safe. Their failure to adhere to this stipulation could result in significant penalties being imposed.
Determine the Standards
Consumer protection in Australia has created a situation whereby the marketplace is exceedingly regulated. This includes the demand for products to be identified with a Regulatory Compliance Mark imposed under the auspices of federal and state entities. Various forms of compliance are controlled and administered by the particular authority regulators. They are the persons who have prepared and introduced specific laws.
In general, the rules and regulations are founded on determining standards created by authorities and issued by global standards organisations. These include the International Electronic Commission (IEC). Variants are incorporated into the authentic standard. These are identified under the Australian umbrella with the prefix of AS.
Suppliers of products destined to the Australian market should ensure that the appropriate Regulatory Compliance Mark is allocated to meet the determining technical requirements. This is prior to the launching of the products into the marketplace. Failure to follow this rule must face some penalties. These penalties can include recalling of the products, substantial fines and the threat of litigation from consumers!
To assist the industry, various specialist organisations are available to advise and assess products for manufacturers and suppliers. These crucial procedures are available from EMC Bayswater. This is an accredited organisation of the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) Regulatory Compliance Mark centre in Australia.
There are three levels related to the Electrical Equipment Safety System (EESS) requirements:
• Level 1 is designated to “low risk” products and includes all other types of in-scope electrical equipment
• Levels 2 and 3 equipment is defined according to AS/NZS 4417.2.
The Regulatory Compliance Mark for level 3 equipment requires a valid certificate of conformity or a safety approval certificate. This must be issued by an established certifying entity. It must include each level three electrical equipment product or that related to it and a declaration of safety from the supplier. The safety certificate holder may be located overseas. This reflects no change in the current situation.
Documentary evidence that is written in the English language must be retained by the supplier. This is to show that products met the determined standards at the time they were either manufactured or imported. A declaration must include that a product is electrically safe, with this evidence being available for inspection within 10 working days for a period of 5 years.
“In-scope” of the EESS
Associated with a Regulatory Compliance Mark is the term “In-scope”. This identifies all newly manufactured electrical and electronic equipment being produced and promoted for use in households, for personal purposes or any related usage. “The designated voltage parameters are greater than 50 VAC RMS or 120V ripple-free DC, but less than 1000V AC RMS or 1500V ripple-free DC.” It is irrelevant whether this low voltage electrical and electronic equipment is also produced or promoted for commercial or industrial applications.
The decision regarding the Regulatory Compliance Mark rests with the regulator to determine if a submitted product is within the “in-scope” specifications. This decision will remain in effect for those products unless the manufacturer or Responsible Supplier (RS) can offer proof to the contrary. It should be kept in mind that descriptive words such as, “offered” or ‘sale’ will limit the scope of the EESS. In addition, there is no minimum quantity of products that are exempted from these requirements.
For the registration of a product model/family, a $75 per year fee is required for every individual and related product member. Further to this annual fee, the Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council (ERAC) will also expect to gain fees from private certification entities issuing the Regulatory Compliance Mark safety certificates.
Registration by current suppliers of products who are already listed on the Australian Communications Media Authority (ACMA) ID database has until March 01 2016 to register on the EESS database and commence using the Regulatory Compliance Mark for ACMA’s regulations. Any new suppliers not found on the ACMA suppliers’ identification database is required to comply with the commencement date.
Device Compliance Requirements
Although the use of the Regulatory Compliance Mark previously required registration and a one-time $110 payment, with the new EESS regulations, the RCM will be issued automatically. This will occur with registration as a Responsible Supplier in the national database, not under a separate process by way of the Standards Australia website as previously done. Under the new EESS terms, the supplier registration fee is increased to $200 per annum.
The RCM was formerly used as an indication of compliance for electrical safety and EMC requirements. This is in accordance with the Australian Communications and Media Authorities, EMC labelling notice. Under the new labelling and registration regulations, the Regulatory Compliance Mark does not affect the device compliance requirements or the applicable regulatory arrangements. The testing and evidence requirements, as well as record-keeping, continue to be displayed in the respective labelling notices.
RCM Logo, Marking and Labelling
Regarding the suppliers of devices that are subject only to ACMA labelling requirements and not the EESS specifications, they will not need to pay a supplier registration fee. However, they will have to update their particulars on a yearly basis.
The indication that an item complies with the determined safety and security standards of Australia, is shown with the Regulatory Compliance Mark. This is a trademark of Standards in Australia. This protection for the consumer markets demands assessment and approval from qualified specialists such as the EMC Bayswater testing services. They have the capacity to determine the safety and security of mandated products. This is from a specified checklist of prescribed products in accordance with the Australian Standards authority.
For further information regarding RCM mark testing and the compliance requirements and some other useful information please visit our dedicated RCM page and our other blog articles.