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Safe use of electricity

Awareness of hazards

Don’t D-I-Y (do it yourself) electrical work

Doing your own electrical work, or employing an unlicensed person to do it for you, is very dangerous. You and your family risk electrocution or fire.

It is also illegal for an unlicensed person to carry out electrical work, including modifications to fixed wiring.

Switches, power points and light fittings

Damaged switches, power points and light fittings are dangerous, and must be replaced. However, you should never replace fittings and switches yourself. Use a licensed electrical contractor to replace them. When painting, never remove switches or fittings. Even when the switch is off, there are still lethal live wires connected. Use masking tape to keep paint off fittings and switches.

Working in the roof space

A roof space can be a very dangerous area. Before you enter a roof space, switch off the electricity at the main switch.

If you are working in the roof space:

  • Use a torch to light the work areas.
  • Do not disturb or alter any electrical junction boxes.
  • Keep thermal insulation away from light fittings.
  • If you see any damaged or bare wires, call your licensed electrical contractor immediately.

Fuses, circuit breakers and safety switches

Fuses or circuit breakers are found in the meter boxes of all homes, and provide protection for the wiring in your home. Always be extremely careful when replacing fuses or resetting circuit breakers.

Safety switches, which may be installed in your meter box, are designed to protect you from electrocution. Safety switches turn off the electricity very quickly if an earth leakage or fault is detected, for example, if you contact a live wire. Safety switches may also prevent fires, by stopping current leaking directly to earth when a fault occurs.

EnergySafety highly recommends safety switches for this additional level of safety.

Even though a safety switch offers excellent protection from electrocution, if you have one installed, you must be very careful with any form of electricity in your home. Contact a licensed electrical contractor for more information.

Safety switches  

Power cords and extension cords

Damaged and wrongly connected cords and plugs are dangerous. Although it is legal to connect your own plugs to flexible cords, a faulty connection can kill. Ready-made extension cords will be safer, and may even be cheaper. For appliance cords, see your local service agent.

Appliances

It is very dangerous to repair any kind of appliance yourself. Faulty repairs may be lethal for you or the next person who uses the appliance. Contact a licensed electrical contractor or a service agent.

Always use a licensed electrical contractor

Always use a licensed electrical contractor to carry out electrical work.

Licensed electrical contractors have been expertly trained and will guarantee the quality of their work.

It is also a legal requirement that electrical work may only be carried out by a person with the relevant electrical licence.

To confirm that electrical contractors are licensed, check that licence numbers are displayed on their vehicles and stationery.

People generally are aware that electricity can be dangerous. However, many people still take extraordinary risks that can lead to harm. Most of these cases seem to be over-familiarity, so reminders of the need to use electricity safely are constantly required. Further information is available on the page safety information - electricity.

Publication: Having electrical work done?

Avoid hazards

Keep appliances away from known hazards, such as keeping electricity away from water.

Follow 'how-to-use' instructions

Appliance manufacturers are required to provide 'how-to-use' instructions with their products. Always check  that the instructions are provided and always read and follow the instructions before using the appliance.

Maintain appliances

While electricity appliances are very reliable, they do need to be maintained to ensure they remain safe. Read and follow the maintenance requirements provided by the manufacturer of the appliance. Some instructions are simple, such as cleaning the appliance. Others may require a licensed skilled technician to carry out the work.