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Electrical safety in ceiling spaces

Ceiling spaces can pose serious electrical safety risks to homeowners and tradespeople. Any person entering ceiling spaces needs to take precautions to minimise the risk associated with electrical cables and equipment and to let someone know you're entering the ceiling.

Turn the power off

Before entering any ceiling space, turn the power off at the main switchboard and take steps to tape it or label it to stop it being inadvertently turned back on by another person while you're working in the ceiling.

Some electrical equipment such as hot water systems or stoves may have a separate switch. The safest approach is to turn off all the switches and circuit breakers at the main switchboard.

Even with the power off, avoid contact with electrical cables and equipment as some cables, such as consumer service lines, may still be live.

Use cordless tools and torches

The use of torches and cordless power tools will avoid the need for power when in the ceiling space. If power is required, then turn off all circuits except the circuit supplying the socket outlet you plan to use, but make sure the circuit is protected by a safety switch. Test the safety switch before you enter the ceiling.

Other potential hazards to acknowledge

  • Solar PV systems have DC supply cables which may be live during daylight hours.
  • Damaged electrical cables or equipment arrange will need repair by a licensed electrical contractor.
  • Check that insulation material is not covering any electrical fittings or equipment, especially down lights.
  • Other hazards may also need to be addressed, such as, excessive heat, confined spaces, dangerous vermin, sharp objects or asbestos containing materials.

View the Stay safer up there, switch off down here campaign films.

Last updated
04 April 2017

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