Take urgent action on all shocks and tingles - Real estate industry bulletin 217

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Licence holdersProperty industry

28 February 2020

Consumer Protection is warning tenants to be aware of any electric shocks or tingles at their residential premises and ensure they are reported to their electrical network operator immediately.

Real estate agents are reminded of their obligations to ensure they, and anyone they employ, comply with the Real Estate and Business Agents Act 1978 and the Real Estate and Business Agents and Sales Representatives Code of Conduct 2016 and any other applicable law. This includes ensuring that any persons with a material interest in respect of the use or occupation of the property (vendors, lessors, tenants or prospective purchasers) are aware of any risk of injury.

A new public safety campaign is urging Western Australians to take potentially life-saving action by immediately reporting any electric shocks or tingles to their electrical network operator. The three-month campaign, launched on Monday 20 January 2020, is a collaboration between the State Government’s Building and Energy team and network operators Western Power and Horizon Power.

“The key message is to contact your network operator straight away if you experience an electric shock or a tingling sensation from a metal object, such as a bathroom tap,” Director of Energy Safety Saj Abdoolakhan said.

“For most WA properties, the network operator will be either Western Power or Horizon Power."“You should contact these agencies first because they are responsible for the initial essential response to a reported shock, which includes checking the electricity supply." “Shocks and tingles can be warning signs of a degraded or broken neutral connection. This results in a voltage rise in the earthing system, causing metal objects in and around a building to become live with dangerous levels of electricity.”

The campaign’s television, online and billboard information highlights the invisible nature of electrical hazards by reminding consumers that “you can’t see an electrical fault, but you can feel one”.

Mr Abdoolakhan emphasised the importance of reporting all electric shocks, even if they appear to be low-level such as a tingling sensation.

“There is no such thing as a ‘minor’ electric shock,” Mr Abdoolakhan said. “Incidents involving a neutral fault account for a quarter of reported shocks in Western Australia. This is extremely hazardous and must be checked as a priority by the network operator.“The campaign features a shower tap, but any exposed metal surface can be a shock source.”

The State Government is also working with Western Power on the roll-out of an advanced form of meter that can remotely detect degrading neutral connections. Horizon Power has already fitted the so-called “smart meters” at its customers’ homes and businesses in regional Western Australia.

“The advanced meters can detect changes in the neutral resistance within a circuit and send an alert signal to the network operator,” Mr Abdoolakhan said. “Even if a meter is in place, it is still important that customers immediately report electric shocks or tingles to the network operator as an extra safety back-up.”

Contact Western Power on 13 13 51 or Horizon Power on 13 23 51.

Western Australia’s other network operators are BHP (1300 632 483) and Rio Tinto (1800 992 777). Customers in the Indian Ocean Territories should call 9164 7111. If the network operator is not known, contact Building and Energy on 1800 678 198.

See the Building and Energy website (via dmirs.wa.gov.au) for more electrical safety information including an electric shocks fact sheet

Consumer Protection
Bulletin
Last updated 28 Feb 2020

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