The safety perspective in standardization

Profiling Adam Murdoch, Chairman of IEC SC 61H

By Janice Blondeau

Adam Murdoch became the Chair of SC (Subcommittee) 61H: Safety of electrically-operated farm appliances on 1 March 2013. He was an IEC 2010 Young Professional. e-tech spoke to Murdoch about his vision for this subcommittee, his work in standardization and what lies ahead.

Adam Murdoch, Chairman IEC SC 61H Adam Murdoch, Chairman IEC SC 61H

IEC 2010 Young Professional takes the reins

e-tech: You could be seen as part of a younger generation of would you say this helps in your new role?

Murdoch: New ideas in a mature standardization organization are never a bad thing. This will challenge considered best practices and will provide opportunities to reform, refresh and optimize processes. I am excited as these opportunities do not come up too often. I was honoured to have been nominated for the position and am looking forward to the work ahead.

e-tech: What are your priorities for SC 61H?
 Murdoch: As SC 61H is a relatively small committee I envisage I will be able to take the reins and settle in to the position quickly. I believe it will be an ideal learning platform to provide me with expertise and enable me in the future to possibly chair other larger committees. I want to continue to ensure that all committee work is completed accurately and efficiently and uphold the high standard that Albert Dreyer, the previous Chairman of SC 61H, delivered.

Background in safety standardization

e-tech: What, if any, could be seen as challenges?

Murdoch: SC 61H is currently a well-developed subcommittee; there are no challenges that stand out at this minute. For the time being I will concentrate on settling in to the position and ensure that it continues to perform. My style as Chairman may be a little different to that of Dreyer’s, so getting in and working in the position will be essential.

e-tech: How long have you been involved in international standardization?
 Murdoch: I attended the first IEC Young Professionals programme workshop in Seattle in 2010. Since then I have attended the TC (Technical Committee) 61: Safety of household and similar electrical appliancesmeetings and meetings for SC 61C: Safety of refrigeration appliances for household and commercial useand SC 61H as an Australian delegate.

e-tech: From whom have you gained inspiration?
 Murdoch: I have gained inspiration from Derek Johns Chairman of TC61. He has been a great mentor and he has a wealth of experience with the standardization process.

Busy role with equipment safety

e-tech: Tell us a little about your 'day job'?
 Murdoch: I am currently the Manager of Equipment Safety at ESV (Energy Safe Victoria). ESV is the independent technical regulator responsible for electricity, gas and pipeline safety in Victoria, Australia. ESV’s role is broad and ranges from overseeing the design, construction and maintenance of electricity, gas and pipeline networks across the state, to ensuring appliances used in the home meet safety and efficiency standards.

Managing the equipment safety department requires attendance at Standards Australia’s electrotechnical committees for household appliances as an expert. I am active on the following Standards Australia committees:

  • EL-041 Lamps and related equipment
  • EL-002 Safety of household and similar electrical appliances, small power transformers and power supplies
  • QR-012 Conformance marking to regulatory requirements
  • TE-001 Safety of electronic equipment.

Regulation and incident investigation

In addition, being a member of the ERAC (Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council) Electrical working group enables me to liaise with other regulatory jurisdictions in Australia and New Zealand about current equipment safety concerns and trends.

On a day-to-day basis my department provides technical support and guidance within the areas of electrical safety and energy efficiency while ensuring compliance to relevant acts, regulations and standards. We also consult with suppliers and manufacturers to provide technical support and guidance to ensure relevant equipment safety standards are met; analyze test reports to determine compliance to relevant Australian and New Zealand standards; and certify household electrical appliances.

Our work also covers the investigation of electrical-related incidents, including house fires, electric shocks and electrocutions and also investigation of electrical appliances that are suspected of being non-compliant with relevant Australian and New Zealand electrical safety standards.

In addition, we provide technical support to internal and external departments including but not limited to installation safety, the Country Fire Authority, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, and Work Safe Victoria, when equipment has been involved in a fire, electric shock or other incident.

Benefits of the IEC Young Professionals programme

e-tech: How has the IEC Young Professionals programme helped you?

Murdoch: The IEC Young Professionals programme provided me with a great overview of the IEC. As a young professional I gained expert knowledge and exposure to exactly how such a large organization operates. I now have a comprehensive understanding of the growing need for international standardization, and how this affects every aspect of trade and the wellbeing of end-users.

e-tech: What advice do you have for young engineers, technicians or managers who might be interested in becoming involved in the world and the work of the IEC?
 Murdoch: The best way of getting experience is to get involved – when an opportunity arises put your hand up for the work. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from others.

Adam Murdoch, Chairman IEC SC 61H Adam Murdoch, Chairman IEC SC 61H
Murdoch during the IEC Young Professionals workshop 2010, Seattle. Murdoch during the IEC Young Professionals workshop 2010, Seattle.
IEC SC 61H works on the safety of electrically-operated farm appliances. IEC SC 61H works on the safety of electrically-operated farm appliances.