Testing Second-Hand Equipment for Safe Resale

Within Australia there are strict regulations on both new and second-hand products. Sellers must comply with these regulations to prevent misleading consumers about the quality and condition of goods offered, with the ultimate goal of ensuring the safety of the consumers.

The responsibility to ensure the safety and quality of these goods rests largely on the sellers shoulders, and this is where testing plays a part. In this blog we cover important information to keep in mind before reselling second-hand electrical items, specifically in the context of commercial sales (excluding private sales), focusing on regulations in Australia.

In Australia, the relevant legislation and standards for testing second-hand electrical items are:

  • AS/NZS 5761: In-service safety inspection and testing – Second-hand equipment prior to sale
  • AS/NZS 3760: Competence of persons performing electrical work

Second Hand Equipment

Testing Second hand Equipment in Queensland

When it comes to testing and tagging second hand equipment, Queensland (QLD) has slightly different regulations compared to the other states. In QLD, you do not need to test and tag equipment before selling it. However, if you choose to do so, you must be a licensed electrical worker. It's important to note that you must also inform the buyer if the equipment has not been tested.

Understanding the AS/NZS 5761 Standard

This standard equips sellers of second-hand electrical equipment with a comprehensive framework for conducting general safety inspections and testing to ensure the equipment is safe to use. The scope extends to both electrical and mechanical aspects such as guards and cut-out devices.

Most importantly, inspecting and testing second-hand electrical equipment in accordance with AS/NZS 5761 helps give the purchaser the confirmation that the equipment is basically safe to use. There is also a provision in the Standard for items to be sold ‘as parts’ rather than functioning equipment.

To carry out inspections and testing according to AS/NZS 5761, individuals must be considered a 'Competent Person' in alignment with AS/NZS 3760, something that is acquired from a Test & Tag Course. Moreover, they should possess additional skills in assessing potential risks and confirming equipment functionality, all in compliance with local regulations.

Important Tips when inspecting second-hand electrical equipment prior to resale

  • Conduct a thorough visual inspection by checking for potential safety hazards, such as exposed wires, loose connections or any other damage
  • Remove all existing test tags upon receiving an item
  • Verify if the equipment has been subject to recalls
  • Check plug complies with AS/NZS 3112 (is it the right fitting, or does it have plastic insulation on the active and neutral pin?)
  • Older appliances without proper insulation on the pins cannot be resold second-hand (a qualified electrical worker may be able to replace the plug)

Second Hand Equipment

Extra resources:

  • Appendix A of AS/NZS 5761 lists additional items to be checked in addition to electrical testing to improve the safety of the user
  • Appendix B of AS/NZS 5761 lists items that shall not be offered for sale second-hand
  • At time of writing, two items cannot be sold second-hand (electrical blankets and portable plastic-bodied fan heaters)

Labelling Requirements

Unlike the standard practice for in-service electrical equipment, second-hand goods being offered for sale do not require standard test tags in accordance with AS/NZS 3760. Instead, items that pass inspection and testing in line with AS/NZS 5761 can have a smaller and simpler label.

These second-hand equipment test tags are not only cost-effective but also affixed directly to the item, rather than its lead. 

If an item is being sold as parts or in a defective state, it is essential that the appropriate label is clearly visible to the purchaser stating it is for parts only and requires a repair.

Second hand equipment test tags