Electrical workers and contractors should take care when locating meter wiring and other cables in switchboards. The clearance between hinged escutcheon panels and the neutral and earth links on some switchboards can be quite small.
Energy Queensland has advised of many incidents where active meter wiring has short circuited against neutral and earth links when the escutcheon panel is closed, damaging the conductor insulation and resulting in the operation of the service fuse.
These incidents can cause electric shock or arc flash injuries to workers, and can result in significant property damage and expensive callout fees to replace blown service fuses. You can avoid them by taking the time to fully consider the layout of your switchboard wiring, particularly cables that might move when you close a hinged panel.
As every switchboard is different, you will need to assess the best approach when selecting and installing wiring systems. For example, one practical method to make switchboard wiring safer is to use the supplied cable tie access points to hold cables clear of anything that could damage the cable insulation.
For more information refer to the Wiring Rules section 18.104.22.168 Mechanical damage and section 22.214.171.124 Other mechanical stresses.
The below images are examples of poor installation practices and depict building wire in contact with or near the neutral bar.
The Electrical Safety Office continues to conduct audits of switchboards and smart meter installations and will take compliance action where necessary. When working on switchboards you must ensure your work meets the requirements of the Wiring Rules, and the work is performed safely with consideration for both electrical and asbestos-related hazards.
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