Electrical safety laws aim to prevent people being killed or injured and property being destroyed or damaged by electricity. These laws apply to every place of work in Queensland.
Queensland's electrical safety framework includes:
- the Electrical Safety Act 2002
- the Electrical Safety Regulation 2013
- codes of practice.
The Electrical Safety Act 2002 is a law that outlines what you must do to prevent people being killed or injured and property being destroyed or damaged by electricity.
Where the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) and the Electrical Safety Act both apply the Electrical Safety Act takes priority.
The business or business owner has the primary duty of care under the Electrical Safety Act.
In the Act this is referred to as a ‘PCBU’, which stands for ‘Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking’.
A PCBU can be a person if they are a sole trader or self-employed, but it usually refers to a business entity such as a company, or an undertaking such as a not-for-profit organisation.
The PCBU must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the electrical safety of workers at the workplace.
This means the business or business owner must do what they are reasonably able to do to ensure the electrical safety of workers and others like volunteers and visitors.
Duties, or responsibilities, are also placed on managers, supervisors and, workers at a workplace.
Learn more about workers' rights and responsibilities.
You are also responsible under the Act if your business:
- manufactures, imports and supplies electrical equipment
- designs, installs and repairs electrical equipment and electrical installations
- is in control of electrical equipment.
All workers are protected by the Act including:
- apprentices and trainees
- work experience students
- employers who perform work (this can include business owners or sole traders).
The general public is also protected, so their health and safety isn’t put at risk at a workplace or by work activities.
Any PCBUs who are individuals who perform work for the business are also covered. This may include business owners or sole traders.
The Act outlines electrical safety definitions and duties.
It also sets out a framework that:
- establishes safety management systems for electrical entities (including power authorities and Queensland Rail)
- provides a system of licensing for electrical workers and contractors
- establishes standards for industry and the public through the Electrical Safety Regulation and codes of practice
- establishes compliance and enforcement including penalties for breaches of the ES Act
- provides consumer protection against electrical work not being properly performed or completed
- establishes a consultation structure through the Electrical Safety Board and associated committees.
The Electrical Safety Regulation 2013 provides detailed information on how you must meet the requirements of the Electrical Safety Act.
The Regulation sets out the requirements for:
- electrical work
- electrical licensing
- working near overhead and underground electric lines
- electrical installations
- in-scope electrical equipment
- works of an electricity entity
- electricity supply
- safety management systems
- cathodic protection systems
- notification and reporting of serious electrical incidents.
The Act and the Regulation are supported by codes of practice that give practical advice on how to meet your electrical safety responsibilities.
Codes of practice deal with particular issues and don't cover all hazards or risks. You must consider all risks associated with the work you do—not just those covered by regulations and codes of practice.
Below are the five codes of practice that relate specifically to electrical safety:
- Electrical safety code of practice 2020 - Electrical equipment rural industry(PDF, 0.65 MB)
- Electrical safety code of practice 2021 - Managing electrical risks in the workplace
- Electrical safety code of practice 2020 - Working near overhead and underground electric lines(PDF, 0.47 MB)
- Electrical safety code of practice 2020 - Works(PDF, 0.33 MB)
- Construction and operation of solar farms Code of Practice 2019(PDF, 0.92 MB)
You can also search the full list of codes of practice.
Review of the Electrical Safety Act 2002
In 2020, the Honourable Grace Grace MP, Minister for Industrial Relations, appointed Mr Dick Williams to lead a review of the Electrical Safety Act 2002. Mr Williams has more than 40 years’ experience in the electrical industry and is the chair of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Board.
The review of the Act was a recommendation of the 2020 report Improving Electrical Safety in Queensland: A Report by the Commissioner for Electrical Safety (PDF, 3.12 MB), by Mr Greg Skyring. The report draws on the outcomes of a 2019 industry roundtable to discuss safety in large-scale solar farms.
The review aimed to ensure that Queensland’s electrical safety laws continue to provide high standards of safety for workers and communities, while recognising that new and emerging technologies have led to significant changes for electricity generation, storage, and supply across the state.
The review considered updates to the objects of the Act and regulation-making powers to address the following key issues:
- The relevance and effectiveness of all definitions under the Act.
- The relevance and effectiveness of all duties and requirements under the Act (and any subordinate legislation), including on suppliers and generating entities.
- The alignment of provisions in the Act with Queensland’s work health and safety legislation.
- Future proofing the Act for new and emerging energy technologies, including renewable energy generation and storage devices.
Mr Williams consulted extensively with industry stakeholders, unions and the community to inform the content of the review. This included open, public consultation and an opportunity for written submissions.
Review – Final Report
In May 2023, the Office of Industrial Relations published the Final Report from the Review of Queensland’s Electrical Safety Act 2002. The Final Report made 83 recommendations spanning Queensland’s electrical safety framework.
Learn more about the Review and Government’s response.