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Beware of electrical dangers when entering a ceiling space

With holiday season upon us and DIY tasks underway, this is a timely reminder that you must be aware of electrical shock risks if you enter a ceiling space. Contact with damaged or exposed live wiring or equipment can lead to serious injury or death.

A number of serious incidents have occurred in ceiling spaces over the past five years, including a licenced electrician who died when he made contact with electrical wiring in the ceiling space of a residential duplex.

As part of our response to this issue, we completed 600 mid-construction assessments of ceiling space electrical wiring installations to check if they were compliant with the Wiring Rules (AS/NZS 3000) before they were energised. Our inspectors found several common issues:

  • Wiring systems installed in prohibited locations. Wiring systems must not be installed between any roofing or wall-lining and its immediate supporting member. This is to prevent damage occurring to the wiring if the roof or wall-lining is penetrated by fixings or tools, potentially resulting in someone receiving an electric shock, or structural components of the building or installation becoming inadvertently energised.
  • Poor protection of cables against mechanical damage. Wiring systems must not be installed unprotected in locations that can easily be contacted by people entering or working in a ceiling space. If cables are not protected, their insulation can be damaged, creating an electric shock risk through direct contact or through inadvertently energised equipment or structural metal work.
  • Inadequate support of wiring to prevent sagging. Wiring systems installed in locations that are likely to be disturbed must be well supported to reduce the risk of damage. Support at regular intervals minimises the mechanical stresses placed on the wiring, reducing the risk of damage to the insulation, sheathing and circuit connections.

Our ceiling space audits are ongoing and we will continue to take action when non-compliant installations are identified. Always ensure the electrical work you perform is compliant to the Wiring Rules.

The new edition of AS/NZS3000 (Wiring Rules) is expected to be published early next year and includes increased requirements for the protection and installation of wiring systems within ceiling spaces.

Further information

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Last updated
20 December 2017

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