SOS-Talk – WA Electrical Safety Regulation Changes

Imminent legislative changes to electrical safety in Western Australia are about to come into effect! Do you know about them or are you ready? Changes are being made in the; Electrical (Licensing) Regulation of WA 1991, The Code of Practice to Working on or near Energized Electrical Installations and amendments to the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996. This chat will discuss to the changes to the Electrical (Licensing) Regulations and should have a profound effect on the industry as a whole

The changes come into effect the 14th of May 2018, they are due to several factors:

  • Since 2008 when a code of practice was released there has been no improvement in incident or injury rates.
  • Far too many serious shocks, arc-flash incidents and electrocutions involve electricians doing work on energised installations are still occurring.
  • Lessons from recent investigations / fatalities and ‘safety reminders’ are appearing to being ignored.
  • Evidence of electrical workers/contractors cutting corners trends have been identified.

The changes to the Electrical (Licensing) Regulation 1991 are new Regulations 54 and 55 covering electrical work on or near electrical installations are being introduced.

  • R. 55(1) creates an offence if electrical work is carried out on or near an ‘energised’ part of an electrical installation unless the conditions set out in r. 55(2) are satisfied.
  • R. 55(2) provides for work on energised installations only if strict requirements are meet.
  • R. 55(3) provides justifications to support a decision to perform electrical work on, or near energised parts.
  • R. 55(4) creates an offence if an EC or an in-house licensee carries out or causes electrical work to be carried out under R. 55(2) unless they ensure that strict requirements are meet.

So, what does all this mean for us?

No one can work on any energized items at all! (from the 14th of May) unless strict requirements are meet. It will be an offence is any work is conducted on any energized part/s

This means there will be an increase in costs (both money and time) for any electrical works conducted on premises e.g. residential, commercial, construction and maintenance projects. Any electrical works conducted on some premises will need to have the main power supply turned off until the works are completed. It’s not just the blanket ban on all live work, unless for emergency contingency. Further isolation equipment will be required by law to be installed adding to contract estimations on new builds.

There is also changes to the supervisory risk profiles for electrical apprentices.

1. 3 levels of supervision defined – Direct/General/Broad

2. Appropriate level to be determined by supervisor

3. Employer must be satisfied supervisor has necessary supervisory skills

4. Limits on number of apprentices being supervised by a single person

  •  If one requires “direct” supervision – no more than two (total)
  • Never more than 4 apprentices per supervisor (total)

5. Strong restrictions on apprentices working on or near energised equipment

Customer and Clients will need to be warned before any works commence that turning off the electrical supply will be required for de-energising a system. Questions about the risks if the power is off and, a plan for the best and least inconvenient time for the work to be conducted should be discussed.

So, you need to ask yourselves Why is there a need to work ‘Live’ anymore?

Thanks to EnergySafe WA for allowing us to share this information.

Stuart Platt

SOS-Switched Onto Safety

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