Building and Energy – summer safety reminder
As WA settles in for a season of Christmas lights, barbecues, new outdoor equipment and DIY projects, Building and Energy is sharing its top tips for a safe summer when using gas, electricity, roof spaces and items attached to building structures.
Building and Energy A/Executive Director Saj Abdoolakhan is encouraging people to ensure their interior and exterior festive lights are safe, in good working order and compliant with Australian standards.
“Damaged or incorrectly used lights can cause electric shocks and fires,” he said.
“Like all electrical equipment and appliances, Christmas lights must meet safety standards and require Australian certification. Look for authentic regulatory compliance symbols and be wary about purchasing lights from overseas as they may not comply.”
Key advice for Christmas lights
- Check that the lights, cords and plugs are undamaged, untangled and working well, particularly if they have been in storage.
- Ensure lights, extension leads and power boards are suitable for the intended use, including indoor or outdoor placement. Additional safety standards apply to outdoor lights, which should have an ingress protection (IP) weatherproof rating.
- Check that the plug has insulated pins, which have a protective cover at the base of the pin below the metal tip. The insulation is designed to prevent contact with live pins when a plug is only partially inserted into an outlet.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and do not alter or modify the lights.
- Turn off power points or light switches before replacing bulbs.
- Switch off the Christmas lights before going to bed or leaving your house.
- Test your home’s residual current devices (RCDs) to make sure they are working.
Mr Abdoolakhan said incorrectly maintained gas barbecues could cause fires, injuries and property damage – but simple checks could help to reduce the risks.
“Check the hose for cracks, kinks or flaws that could result in a gas leak,” he said.
“We also suggest spraying a solution of household detergent and water on all the exposed joints and connections. If bubbles appear, there is a gas leak.”
Look for a label on the barbecue showing its Australian safety certification and a stamp on the gas cylinder indicating when it was last tested – if this was more than 10 years ago it should be replaced or retested.
“Regular cleaning also reduces fire risks from built-up grease and oil,” Mr Abdoolakhan added.
“If there are any concerns with your barbecue, turn off the gas immediately and arrange for the faulty component to be replaced or repaired by a licensed gas fitter.”
- Visit Building and Energy’s gas barbecue safety webpage (via dmirs.wa.gov.au) for more information and a handy video.
Hazards in roof spaces
With the holiday season being a popular time for DIY projects, Mr Abdoolakhan is urging people to be particularly cautious about electrical hazards in roof spaces.
“DIY electrical work is illegal and extremely dangerous, so always use a licensed electrical contractor,” he said.
“If you must access the roof space for another reason, it is vital that the electricity supply to the house is turned off at the main switchboard before you go up.
“The wiring in the roof space may have damaged insulation or exposed live parts, or you may accidentally dislodge other components, risking electric shock and possible electrocution.
“If you see any damaged or bare wires, call your licensed electrical contractor immediately.”
Battery-powered headlamps or torches should be used to help with safe movement in the roof space and navigation around electrical infrastructure.
“Avoid storing items in the roof space and keep thermal insulation away from light fittings,” Mr Abdoolakhan added.
- Visit Building and Energy’s safe use of electricity webpage (via dmirs.wa.gov.au) for more tips.
Attaching or hanging items
Consumers should be cautious about how and where equipment such as hammocks, swings, hanging chairs, shade-sails and basketball hoops are installed.
Mr Abdoolakhan said items like this should only be used if the supporting structure – including brick piers, walls, roofs, ceilings and beams – could handle the weight and loads.
“Structures at your home are not necessarily designed to carry additional attachments,” he said.
“Isolated brick piers, for example, are primarily designed to carry vertical loads from above. They should not be retrofitted with items that may pull or push the pier sideways or off-centre, such as a hammock.
“Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a building element is strong enough to support the item you are thinking of attaching. If in doubt, don’t risk it.”
The manufacturer’s instructions should also be followed when installing items.
“Some goods, such as basketball rings and backboards, must have instructions provided about safe installation and use,” Mr Abdoolakhan said.
“You should also consider getting expert advice on the safe installation and use of any item attached to a structure.”
- For more information on these issues and other safety topics, see the Building and Energy website (via dmirs.wa.gov.au).
Media contact: BEmedia@dmirs.wa.gov.au
Building and Energy (a division within the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety) was formed in January 2018 by the amalgamation of the Building Commission and EnergySafety.