Today, Australia’s peak electrical industry body, the National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA), called for electrical safety to be a priority in the New Year, particularly in older homes.
NECA’s chief executive officer, Mr James Tinslay, said the New Year provides a great opportunity for home owners and landlords to bolster electrical safety and reduce the risk of injury from fire by installing hard-wired smoke detectors and residual current devices (RCDs) or safety switches as they are commonly known.
“Throughout Australia there are existing regulations that require the installation of safety switches and hard-wired smoke alarms in new homes or homes that have been renovated. However, many older homes are not covered by these regulations,” Mr Tinslay said.
“It is no secret that many older homes in Australia that were built in the early 1900s or during the boom after World War II have original wiring that can be dangerous and many do not have safety switches or hard-wired smoke alarms installed to help protect the residents.”
“These original electrical installations are now powering a whole house full of modern appliances and the old wiring can be dangerous if it deteriorates.”
Since 1991 the Australian Wiring Rules have required RCDs to be mandatory in all new installations and when undertaking significant renovations. The requirement has been built upon by some state electrical regulators and this has enabled additional protection. However, many older homes across Australia are not captured by these regulations.
“As Australia’s housing stock ages, NECA is calling for home owners and landlords to ensure they have life saving safety switches and hard-wired smoke alarms installed to help protect residents.”
NECA is also calling on governments to introduce over time a requirement for mandatory periodic electrical safety inspections of premises when certain events take place or at fixed time intervals to assist in identifying dangers.
“For example, if a house has not had a safety inspection by an electrician in ten years it could be regulated that such an inspection is required when the house is sold, leased or where there is a change of tenant. Invariably, bank or mortgage providers require a pest and building inspection, but not a report on the electrical installation which can have more fatal implications or cause damage to the property from fire,” Mr Tinslay said.
It could also be very costly to a potential home buyer if the wiring needed replacing and this wasn’t discovered before the purchase.
“A simple inspection by a licensed electrician could identify whether a home is at risk by having dangerous old wiring or the omission of a safety switch or hard-wired smoke alarm. A regime to inspect homes will detect any serious electrical risks and help keep Australians safe.”
“An inspection would check the condition of the switchboard, identify illegal wiring, check the positioning of insulation, look out for exposed parts of power outlets and inspect the condition of some of the wiring itself.”
Regulations to have safety switches installed at the time of sale or lease already exist in Western Australia and in Queensland and it is time the other states introduced these simple measures to help back-capture many of the older homes in Australia and protect those who are also renting homes.
“Having it mandated in each state in Australia so the installation of safety switches is compulsory in all homes and not just new homes will help to reduce the number of electrocutions in Australia. The Western Australian and Queensland governments have made this sensible decision and it is time the other states followed suit.
“Australian governments have improved legislation and regulations for other life saving measures like seatbelts, pool fences and helmets. It is now time they do the same for electrical safety initiatives including introducing periodic electrical inspections and a regime to back-capture older homes,” Mr Tinslay said.
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NECA's CEO James Tinslay is available for on-camera (Sydney), radio and paper interviews. Please call 02 9439 8523 or 0411 250 187.
National Electrical and Communications Association - NECA
NECA is the peak industry body representing the interests of electrical and communications contractors Australia-wide.
Mr James Tinslay - NECA CEO
P: 02 9439 8523