Today, peak Australian electrical industry body, the National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA), welcomed a decision by the NSW Government to make the installation of safety switches mandatory in all business premises.
The decision to make safety switches mandatory in business premises brings NSW regulations in line with other states and territories in Australia.
NECA NSW Chief executive officer, Mr Lindsay Le Compte, said the decision was made after NECA made submissions on behalf of the electrical industry on requirements of any future national harmonisation of occupational health and safety legislation.
"This decision picks up the proposed mandatory requirement for safety switches in business premises contained in the recently released draft of the national model Work Health and Safety regulations so it is pleasing to see the NSW Government acting early to adopt the current draft proposals", Mr Le Compte said.
"The installation of safety switches will make business premises safer and this is the number one aim of occupational health and safety legislation. The electrical industry has known for years the benefits of installing safety switches and NECA has been leading the call for this common sense approach to be introduced in NSW."
Making it compulsory for safety switches to be installed in business premises is only half the battle. While the government had acted to protect the interests of occupiers and employees at business premises, it should also be prepared to mandate additional electrical protection at residential premises.
NECA has led the call for the NSW government to make it compulsory for residential premises to have safety switches installed and to also introduce periodic electrical inspections.
Mr Le Compte said the NSW government invited submissions earlier this year on a review of the NSW Electricity (Consumer Safety) Act. NECA lodged a submission and recommended the government act to require mandatory electrical inspections for residential premises in the following circumstances:
- At sale or lease of properties
- At least once every four years for non-residential property and every 10 years for residential premises
- At other times when the entity responsible for the electrical installation at premises becomes aware of damage or risk to the installation
"NECA's recommendations regarding electrical inspections in residential premises are in line with the position in several European countries and accord with aspects of existing Australian Standards," Mr Le Compte said.
"If other states can make safety switches mandatory in homes then I'm sure NSW can as well and while we are in the process of making sensible updates to electrical safety, the introduction of electrical inspections should be considered by the NSW government too."
Mr Le Compte said that the recent home insulation debacle was direct evidence that many homes have the potential to be death traps because of old, damaged or incorrectly installed wiring and electrical devices.
"The government has not acted to address the issue in residential premises as it has done for business premises.
"It must be remembered that, while the installation of safety switches provides a measure of protection, the Australian Standard Wiring Rules are clear that safety switches are not recognised as a sole means of protection and are intended only to augment other measures of basic protection".
"Homeowners obtain building and pest inspections on a regular basis. Given the real risk to life and property from faulty electrical circuitry, periodic electrical safety inspections, make real sense".
NECA NSW CEO Lindsay Le Compte is available for print, radio and TV interviews on 02 9744 1099