Need or Necessity: Electrical Switchgear Assessment in New Zealand


Electrical switchgear is a combination of the circuit, fuses, relays, electrical disconnects, or breakers that can be used to protect, separate, and controls electrical equipment or gears from a malfunctioned condition.

Switchgears are an important component in an electrical system and thus switchgear malfunction can be an immediate disaster in several ways.

  • Downtime due to switchgear failure can be extensively taking a long time for replacement
  • Switchgear failure most often leads to damage in other equipment like circuit breakers even leading to the whole shutdown of the business
  • Switchgear failures prevent the entire power flow into the system leading to loss of productivity
  • Switchgear failures may produce toxic oils and smokes which are harmful to humans when exposed
  • Switchgear failure affects the company’s savings by the introduction of potential fines and replacement charges

What is Switchgear Risk Assessment?

The basic function of switchgear is protection, by interrupting short circuit and overload fault currents while ensuring services to unaffected loads.

switchgear provides separation of circuits from power also enhances system availability by allowing more than one source to the load.

Switchgears are of 3 types based on the voltage level

  • Low voltage switchgear
  • Medium voltage switchgear
  • High voltage switchgear

Electrical switchgear risk evaluation is the determination of the quantitative and qualitative measure of risks associated with electrical switchgear.

Risk assessment helps in identifying potential risks and help in taking appropriate control measures to mitigate the effects of risks

Thus, electrical switchgear risk assessment is not a need but a necessity.

Necessity of Electrical Switchgear Risk Assessment:

When the power in a system is increased at a rapid rate, the switchgear comes under the action to control the damage of the electrical circuit. So, a timely assessment of the switchgear is essential to ensure its safe operation to approve the safe functioning of other equipment.

Switchgear risks can affect the entire electrical system of the company interrupting the productivity of the system. Switchgear failure prevents the circuits from isolation from the part which is energized thereby affecting the property as well as people.

For these reasons it is essential to have an electrical switchgear assessment to ensure its operation is safe.

Steps of Electrical Switchgear Assessment:

  • Identify the scope and limit of the use of switchgear assembly which includes its design and type, ambient working condition, and proposed work procedure.
  • Identify the possible hazards of electrical switchgear which includes electric shocks, arc faults, and mechanical hazards. It also looks into the history of earlier major and minor faults
  • Risk estimation is conducted to consider the severity of harms and their probability of occurrence
  • The final evaluation is conducted to ensure the risks are at a tolerable level or to adopt appropriate risk reduction methods

Case Studies from New Zealand on Electrical Switchgear Failure:

  • Oil-filled 11Kv breakers have failed to cause injury to people
  • Oil-filled outdoor 66kV circuit breakers have failed which led to the failure of current and voltage transformers
  • Oil-filled rings with switch fuse tee-offs have failed to cause internal failures and termination fires

Care Labs is an authorized provider of Electrical Installation’s Study, Analysis, Inspection, and Certification services and offers electrical switchgear risk assessment and hazard analysis services.

Care Labs of capable of identifying potential risks and adopting appropriate measures for their mitigation.

Service Benefits of Care Labs:

  • Safer power systems according to government standard rules and guidelines
  • Save time and money with fully integrated power systems
  • Ensure a safer working environment
  • Propose quick alternatives in case of emergency
  • Increase safety margins
  • Avoid potential fines and litigation costs

New Zealand Standards for Switchgear Assessment:

NZQA 12387 focuses on the standards to be followed while operating electrical switchgear. The outcomes of this standard are

  • To illustrate knowledge of electrical switchgear in common use in electricity generation switchyards
  • To explain the operating principles of switchgear in common use in electricity generation switchyards.
  • To make sure equipment is correctly identified
  • To operate electrical switchgear

Care Labs have their crew members deployed in various locations, so our specialists are nearby in case of a routine or emergency. In a very short period, Care Labs have been established as an ISO 9001:2008 certified organization and has acquired a reputed client base with excellent feedbacks.     

Care Labs offers its services across New Zealand including Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, and Otago. For all types of arc flash assessment contact us at +971 42 99 6471, +971 55 792 1054, +966 566989754 or mail us at [email protected]

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