Electrical Safety Information
Electrical Safety Information
Having worked in the workplace safety field as a consultant, advisor as well as auditing & developing safety systems for various organisation across Australia and New Zealand, I have come across many instances of workplace safety non-compliance.
One of the more common areas is that of electrical compliance. Yes, we familiar about test and tag requirements but I am talking about verification of electrical installations. This would especially apply to PCBU’s and Electrical Contractors.
I came across an editorial piece from Quick Safety which I wanted to share – see below the original editorial for your reference.
Quick Safety have easy to use apps and portals to provide easy validation to AS/NZS 3000 and AS/NZS 3017. Its also available free to all electricians and with my son being a sparkie, I am very keen to know that he is keeping safe.
From the PCBU’s and Electrical Contractors point of view this app can provide information in real time with the ability to view circuit/RCD degradation .
This is definitely not a sales pitch but I wanted to share an Australian product that I believe could save lives
Please note, Safety Services Australia are not affiliated with Quick Safety nor are we engaged in any affiliate marketing arrangements.
Electrical Inspection and Testing, always a contentious topic. Despite each States Electrical Regulators attempts, it remains among the hottest topics in our industry. That is why it is at the top of the regulators radar now….
I want EVERYONE of us to look at this (Electricians, Electrical Contractors, AND Asset Owners) as each one has a part to play and can be held liable.
Bear with me, I know I am preaching to the choir here, but as a refresher…
What is it:
In simplistic terms, this testing ensures the electrical installation (If you install, alter, or modify a circuit) has been completed correctly and will not endanger personnel or property at that site.
In addition to the Inspection and Testing requirements triggering the requirements in AS/NZS3000 Section 8.3.3, are the verification requirements for compliance for ALL electrical work to comply to AS/NZS3000 so it doesn’t impair the safety of the existing electrical installation. (Think of this as “like-for-like replacements).
There are also periodical inspection and testing requirements (AS/NZS3000 Section 8.1.3) set out in other standards (AS/NZS3019), dependant on your building’s classification.
In all states and territories, an additional “Certificate of Compliance” is required. Called different things from state-to-state, they’re a mandated process required by the State. The asset owner should receive this at the completion of the job.
Let’s review the facts:
We have Federal and State requirements that MUST be adhered to in relation to the work performed by electricians daily. The processes which govern what must be achieved, is set out in various Standards, Acts, Bills, and Regulations.
Australia and New Zealand Federal Requirements:
- AS/NZS3000 (2018) Section 8 sets out the requirement for this across Australia and New Zealand.
- AS/NZS3017 (2007) sets out the methods of inspection and testing for satisfying AS/NZS3000.
- Workplace Health and Safety Act (2018) provides a balanced and nationally consistent framework to secure the Health and Safety of workers and workplaces.
- Workplace Health and Safety Bill (2019) provides a national model law and is intended to provide the basis for nationally consistent work health and safety laws.
- Workplace Health and Safety Regulations (2021) provide the basis for nationally consistent work health and safety laws.
- Electrical Safety Act
- Electrical Safety Regulation
- Workplace Health and Safety Act
All of these form our “legal requirements” for Inspection & Testing for everyone from electricians, to electrical contractors, to asset owners.
What is the issue?
- Complications ensuring tests comply
- 2 required tests come from tables 8.1 and 8.2 of AS/NZS3000. Unless the electrician carries around these tables, they aren’t 100% assured the tests are compliant for that circuit.
- Potential for mis-understanding the testing parameters and passing a failed result.
- Paperwork – Who likes this anyway!
- Lost documents, illegible writing, incorrect test results, missed tests, reduced productivity, reputational damage, storage issues.
- More administration work
- Filing, storing, ability to retrieve when requested, reputational damage
- Lack of duty of care/oversight by Electrical Contractors
- If no one is going to check your work – why bother testing?
- Even if the paperwork is returned, it’s rarely reviewed for compliance (I know a guy in Cairns who sits down with all the weeks testing sheets on a Friday arvo and manually reviews each test….)
- Inability of “Oversight” by the Regulators to ensure this process happens
- Most state regulators do not have the manpower to have inspectors in the field reviewing current jobs (Even if they did, the state would need a digital lodgement system to allow them to see where electricians that day were at)
- I will credit Victoria ESV and Western Australia EnergySafety for their process of knowing where electricians have been, IF the notices have been lodged.
All these combined put our industry at risk, plus your business, and its reputation. The asset owners face prosecution now, under WHS Act Section 5 (the PCBU Rulings), so don’t think that it is “just” the electrician that is going to be at fault. Company Directors of assets are liable, and have been fined, for electrical safety and compliance failures.
Let’s review the legal ramifications of this:
It’s your duty of care as an Electrical Contractor to ensure that this process is completed, testing is completed to the Australian Standards requirements, and this documentation is stored for the required period. Contractors have the requirement to produce and maintain the Certificates of Compliance in accordance with each States requirement.
An asset owner, or a PCBU (Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking), is liable for ALL Electrical Safety and Compliance within that structure. As well as to maintain ALL documentation to provide any case of indemnity.
Failure of this does end up in court with fines and penalties. Electrical contractors and electricians have lost their licence.
Let’s look at some statistics from the Electrical Regulators:
The top two penalties that re-occur are:
- Inspection & Testing
- Failure to test, or test in compliance with AS/NZS3000
- Failure to Implement, or follow, a safe system of work
Each of these issues are 3-4 times greater than any other prosecutions recorded. This shows you the magnitude of the issue in the industry.
The regulators are focused on methods to reduce this, and you may have seen some of the precursors with the changes in AS/NZS3000 AMD 2 and the recent CPD requirements for licence renewals.
Where do we go from here?
Electricians – know what AS/NZS3000 Section 8 and AS/NZS3017 says and the proper ways to inspect and test – it’s your job.
Electrical Contractors – review your States Electrical Regulator “Electrical Contractor Guide” – a great resource to assist you in your requirements as a contractor. Queensland Guide is located here.
Asset owners – the document put out by the federal government “Managing Electrical Risks in the Workplace – Code of Practice” is a great place to start to get to know your responsibilities. Each state also has their own. This is a MUST HAVE document for ALL asset owners.
Remove the risk around paperwork – Use digital tools that will make the work easier for your electricians in the field (Validating all test readings to the Standards, providing transparency, remove your admin burden of paperwork, automatically providing Certificates of Compliance directly to your customers at the end of every job, and satisfying your storage requirements – removing your regulatory, legal, and reputational risk.
These is so much more to discuss around this topic; it’s so big and critical to get right. I applaud the companies out there who have a complete understanding of this process and are doing the right thing every single time, well done! To those who don’t, NOW is the time to start, it’s easier than you think, and it only takes a step in the right direction.
International – Phone +61-402-829-348
Australia – Phone 0402-829-348