Working on or near energised electrical installations
Working on or near energised electrical equipment (live work) is an unsafe practice and too frequently results in burns, shocks, serious accidents and fatalities for electricians and other workers. This is clearly unacceptable.
New compliance obligations for licensed electrical workers
The Electricity (Licensing) Amendment Regulations (No. 2), published in November 2017, do not permit electrical work to be performed on or near an exposed energised part of an electrical installation that can be de-energised. Work on energised parts of installation may occur in accordance with Regulation 55 of the Electricity (Licensing) Regulations 1991.
This change to regulations applies from 14 May 2018.
Regulation 55 limits performing work on or near live electrical equipment to circumstances only where:
- it is necessary for the work to be carried out effectively;
- the health and safety of one or more persons would be otherwise put in imminent and significant danger; or
- it is necessary in order to test, measure the performance of, or detect or locate faults or defects in, the part of the installation.
- the risks can be reduced to as low as reasonably practicable; and
- the work can be carried out safely.
Building and Energy has developed a Code of Practice for persons working on or near energised electrical installations to assist electrical workers to comply with the new regulations.
Code of Practice for Persons working on or near energised electrical installations
View the Code and frequently asked questions
NOTE: This new Code of Practice replaces the document “Code of Practice – Safe Low Voltage Work Practices by Electricians” published by the Director of Energy Safety in 2008.
New compliance obligations for other workers
Persons performing any work in premises with an electricity supply must be aware of the potential significant hazards associated with live electrical equipment.
In particular, there are a number of possible electrical hazards in roof spaces that are a danger to any person, workers or occupier, when entering a roof space. These hazards include:
- exposed live electrical conductors or terminals;
- unenclosed joints in conductors (i.e. no connection boxes);
- substandard or deteriorated wiring (often associated with older buildings);
- unused wiring left in the roof space that has not been disconnected from the switchboard;
- past electrical work not performed by a competent person which could be substandard and unsafe;
- live consumers mains even when the main switch is off and the SPD is removed;
- solar array DC and service AC cabling carrying significant DC voltage;
- damaged cables (e.g. chewed by rodents); and
- metallised thermal insulation which may be energised due to poor installation practices.
The Occupational Safety and Health Amendment Regulations, published in November 2017, do not permit work to be performed on or near an exposed energised part of an electrical installation, unless:
- generally, the relevant part of the electrical installation is de-energised and tested by a competent person (Regulation 3.59A); or
- where working in a roof space, it is necessary to energise an appliance or item of equipment (such as a gas appliance or air conditioner) for the purpose of testing or commissioning (Regulation 3.59B).
This change to the OSH regulations applies from 14 May 2018.
A guidance note for working in roof spaces has been prepared by WorkSafe and issued by the Commission for Occupational Safety and Health under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.
This guidance note applies to all employers of workers and workers performing work for reward in the roof spaces of buildings constructed or used as residential buildings. It applies to all type of work requiring access to the roof space such as carpentry, plumbing, pest control, installation of ceiling insulation, solar panels, air conditioning systems, security systems and builders in general. It also applies to electrical work.
Guidance note - Working in roof spaces
Read the guidance note
Letter to electricity customers regarding ban on live work
Building and Energy has prepared a letter signed by the Director of Energy Safety to inform electricity customers about the new laws, which strictly limit work on or near energised electrical equipment to exceptional circumstances. Electrical contractors and electricians are encouraged to provide a copy of this letter to their customers when quoting and performing electrical work.
Letter from the Director of Energy Safety
Download the letter here to provide to your customer
Electrical Arc Flash Hazard Management Guideline
The Australian Energy Council has developed a Guideline recommending minimum industry standards in managing electric arc flash hazards.
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