Building and Energy update - don't cut corners with checking and testing

Recent prosecutions for unsafe electrical installations and inaccurate compliance notices have prompted Building and Energy to remind electricians about the importance of checking and testing their work.

Under the State’s Electricity (Licensing) Regulations 1991, electrical installing work must be performed in accordance with the Wiring Rules. Section 8.3 of the Wiring Rules outlines mandatory testing requirements and references AS/NZS 3017, which sets out common testing methods.

“While most industry participants take their obligations seriously, recent cases have shown the potentially fatal consequences of not properly checking and testing electrical work,” WA’s Director of Energy Safety, Saj Abdoolakhan, said.

“In all these cases, had the required processes had been followed they would have quickly revealed the electricians’ errors or defective work before people were put at risk.”
Notifiable electrical work must be accompanied by a notice of completion (NOC), which includes a declaration (by the electrical worker and the nominee of the electrical contractor) that the work has been checked and tested and found to comply with the Regulations.

“Electrical contractors should take note of the significant penalties for false declarations and ensure they have robust processes in place to be confident about compliance before certifying the NOC,” Mr Abdoolakhan said.

Recent cases prosecuted by Building and Energy include:

  • A Padbury building site was left unprotected against electrical hazards for several days because a multiple earthed neutral (MEN) connection was not installed. The electrical worker was fined $5,000 in November 2021 for the non-compliant work and the electrical contractor was fined $15,000 in January 2022 for submitting a NOC that falsely declared the work had been checked and tested for compliance. 
  • A missing MEN also led to a total fine of $32,500 in November 2021 for a Balcatta electrical contractor and electrical worker. 
  • A Caversham electrician was fined $10,300 in August 2020 for not installing a MEN at a family home and falsely declaring that the required checks and tests were done, even though the test sheet was incomplete.
  • A trial concluded in June 2020 with a North Perth electrical worker ordered to pay more than $27,000 in fines and costs for an error that caused electric shocks to two tradesmen. While transferring an energy consumption meter from a temporary installation to the new home’s main switchboard, the connection of the active and neutral load conductors at the meter was transposed.
  • Transposition of the load active and neutral conductors also put the residents of a Duncraig home at risk of electric shock for 17 days before the error was discovered. The Sorrento electrician involved was fined $15,000 in March 2020. 
  • A Palmyra electrician was fined $20,000 in April 2020 for failing to reconnect the load neutral conductor at the three-phase supply tariff meter at a Connolly home’s meter panel.

“Industry participants are expected to uphold the safety responsibilities and community trust that come with their licences,” Mr Abdoolakhan said.

“Most checks and tests take a few minutes – and they save lives. There is simply no excuse for cutting corners with any area of electrical work. The consequences could be deadly.”