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ESO warns rogues in electricity industry – no licence, no work!

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8 September 2020

Following successful court action recently, the Electrical Safety Office is warning rogue operators against contracting for and performing electrical work without appropriate licences.

On 17 August 2020, an injunction under Queensland’s Electrical Safety Act 2002 was obtained in the Queensland Magistrates Court directing a Queensland electrical business to comply with improvement notices issued by ESO inspectors to cease conducting a business that included contracting for electrical work unless it held an electrical contractor licence. Until 3 September 2021, the business had never held an electrical contractor licence in Queensland.

According to the Head of ESO Donna Heelan this practice is not only illegal but can cause all sorts of problems.

“It’s a shame we have to go to court to stop these rogues making things difficult for consumers and competing unfairly with licensed electricians,” Ms Heelan said.

“However, we will do whatever is needed to shut down ‘electrical cowboys’ to ensure Queenslanders are not exposed to any risks that come with unlicensed operators.

“It’s more likely that unlicensed operators won’t do the work properly and consumers can face risk from shock through to fire. Beyond unlicensed contracting, this is what the ESO is intent on avoiding.”

Investigations identified the business had on numerous occasions contracted for and performed electrical work despite not holding an electrical contractor licence. Even though it was warned to stop these unlawful activities, and was issued enforcement notices, the company continued to operate in breach of Queensland’s electrical licensing requirements.

In this matter, the court found the electrical safety regulator was acting as the proper guardian of public rights, with interests protective and beneficial, not private or financial. The business in its unlawful contracting and electrical work was adversely affecting the rights not only of licenced contractors and electricians, but consumers. Primarily this was because electrical contractors need to meet specific business and technical requirements as well as holding the appropriate insurance.

“The business operated mainly in South East Queensland and those people who used it should contact the ESO immediately,” Ms Heelan said.

“These actions are a timely reminder to all Queenslanders to only use licensed electrical contractors for their electrical work.

“When choosing a contractor, always look for their electrical contractor licence number in any advertisement and confirm they have a current licence before agreeing to any work.

“The good news from all this is that the business has now done the right thing in applying for and obtaining an electrical contractor licence and so can now lawfully conduct a business or undertaking that includes the performance of electrical work.

“You can check the status of the electrical contractor licence number through our licence search facilities.

“If your electrical contractor does not appear to be in the database, call the ESO on 1300 632 993.

“Those caught doing electrical work without a licence in Queensland will always face on the spot fines and possible prosecution,” she said.

Earlier this year, a Queensland concreting business and its sole director were fined $42,500 for unsafe and unlicensed electrical practices. In a separate matter, an individual was charged with nine offences relating to unlicensed electrical work and unlicensed electrical contracting and was fined $100,000.

For more information on safe electrical work, visit electricalsafety.qld.gov.au

Ends.

Media contact: oirmedia@oir.qld.gov.au or 0478 33 22 00