In October 2022, the Electrical Licensing Committee took disciplinary action against five licence holders:
- An electrical worker performed electrical contracting work without an electrical contractor’s licence and work outside the scope of their restricted electrical worker licence.
They advertised their services on Air Tasker and installed a split system air conditioning unit, including installing the circuit into the switchboard. They didn’t install a safety switch and the work didn’t comply with AS/NZS 3000. There was no insurance for consumer protection because the worker didn’t hold an electrical contractor’s licence.
Their licence was cancelled immediately and they were disqualified from holding an electrical work licence for ten years. They were issued a severe reprimand and a $1,500 fine in addition to numerous penalties issued by the Electrical Safety Office.
- An electrical worker failed to isolate and lockout/tagout to prevent de-energised equipment being re-energised. They also didn’t adequately supervise an apprentice while installing air-conditioner equipment at a school.
During the project, the worker identified a ELV control wiring fault, resulting in the re-instatement of the air conditioner units several times. As a result, the apprentice received an electric shock working on a nearby unit. The worker admitted they knew the unit had not been isolated, however, they were distracted by discussions with another employee and did not notice the apprentice had commenced working.
Their licence was suspended for three months, and they must complete competency units prior to the suspension being lifted. They were issued with a caution and a $300 fine.
- An electrical contractor failed to implement safe systems of work in lockout/tagout and testing procedures. They also failed to ensure the correct ratio of tradespeople to apprentices. As a result, an electrical apprentice received a shock, with potential for a more serious incident.
While a job safety environment analysis was provided, not all hazards and electrical risks associated with the job were identified. Since the incident, they have started reviewing their safety procedures and completed additional training.
Their licence was suspended for six months and they must complete two approved electrical safety system audits from an independent auditor. They received a severe reprimand and a $2,000 fine.
- An electrical worker failed to adequately supervise an apprentice and perform all mandatory testing while working on a construction site. They asked the apprentice to connect the remaining single-phase communal area power and light circuits contained in the main switchboard. While the apprentice was carrying out this work, they also connected a three-phase communal hot water circuit.
Later that day, a plumber arrived at the construction site to install the plumbing for the communal hot water system, located under a bench. The three-phase supply for the hot water system was not connected and the cable was exposed waiting for termination.
As the plumber began work, their shoulder contacted the wires and they received a shock. If the licensed electrical worker performed all the mandatory tests, (including the appropriate isolation at the board), the unterminated live cable would have been identified.
The worker’s licence was suspended for three months, and they must complete competency units prior to the suspension being lifted. They were issued with a caution and a $600 fine. This was in addition to a $400 penalty imposed by the Electrical Safety Office.
- An electrical contractor failed to implement safe systems of work and procedures resulting in an unterminated live cable. There was no auditing to ensure correct test and isolation procedures were followed. As a result, a person received an electric shock and there was the potential for a more serious incident.
Their licence was suspended for six months and they must complete two approved electrical safety system audits from an independent auditor. They received a reprimand and a $1,200 fine in addition to a $800 penalty imposed by the Electrical Safety Office.
Commissioner for Electrical Safety and Chair of the Electrical Licensing Committee, Keith McKenzie has a message for electrical workers based on the committees review of recent cases:
- Electrical workers must only work to the requirements according to the type of licence they hold. If you have a restricted electrical work licence, no installation work can be carried out.
- If you supervise electrical apprentices, you must ensure they are competent to perform the work tasked to them and offer clear and concise instructions. Involve apprentices in the lockout/tagout of equipment process.
- Several failures to test were a result of jobs being rushed, not enough time at the end of the day and pressure demands placed on workers and contractors.
- Prior to the most important task of the installation - testing, stop for a short break, read your company’s testing requirements and refer to section 8 of the Wiring rules and AS/NZS:3017.
- Failure to test correctly can result in electrical shock, fatality and fire. It can also result in an electrical licensed worker and electrical contractor losing their licence or disqualified from holding a licence.
- An electrical licensed worker or contractor could face prosecution in court.
- If you don’t feel confident in the requirements of testing, or have not undertaken a testing course lately, a number of registered training organisations offer the unit of competency called ‘Apply currency of safe working practices and compliance verification of electrical installations.
It is extremely important you protect your licence, but more importantly that you protect the community.