Working in the roof space
The roof space of your home can be a very dangerous area. There are serious electrical hazards in roof spaces and the potential for electric shocks is high.
Hazards can include:
- exposed live electrical conductors or wiring;
- unenclosed joints in conductors;
- deteriorated electrical cabling (often associated with older buildings);
- substandard and unsafe past electrical work performed by an incompetent person;
- damaged cables (e.g. chewed by rodents); and
- metallised foil insulation which may have become energised due to poor installation practices.
If you plan on working in the roof space, your first step is to switch off the electricity at the main switchboard/meter box by turning the main switch to the "OFF" position.
It is important to note that turning off electricity at the main switchboard/meter box does not turn off the electricity supply from the street to the switchboard. This means the incoming overhead or underground service lines and the cables supplying the switchboard will still be live. Extreme care must be taken to avoid touching any of these live overhead or underground electrical lines or supply cables. If you have solar panels on your property, cabling from solar array panels to the inverter will still be 'live'.
Please follow these steps before entering the roof space:
- switch off the electricity at the main switchboard/meter box by turning the main switch to the 'OFF' position.
- Tape the switch and/or label it so someone else does not turn it back on while you are working up there.
- Let someone know where you are.
- Use a torch and cordless power tools.
- Do not disturb or alter any electrical wiring or junction boxes.
- Keep thermal insulation away from light fittings.
- if you see any damaged or bare wires, call your licensed electrical contractor immediately. Do not DIY electrical work.
By law, all tradespersons who need to enter the roof space at your property, must turn off the power at the main switchboard/meter box prior to doing so. This applies to most work (not just electrical work) carried out in the roof space of residential and commercial premises. This may include air-conditioning installers, gas fitters, plumbers, solar installers, roof carpenters and pest controllers. There are limited occasions where a tradesperson can work in the roof space with the power on.
Building and Energy has developed stickers to be affixed to the roof space manhole and at the main switchboard/meter box to serve as a reminder to switch the power off before anyone enters the roof space.
To order stickers for you home, please email your name, address and number of stickers required to EGPGeneralAdmin@dmirs.wa.gov.au.
WorkSafe Queensland has produced a video highlighting the danger of working in the roof space.
Stay safer up there, switch off down here.
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