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NSW UE ITAB News Service 12 – 25 May 2020: focus on safety (failure to test polarity has legal consequences)

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News Service this week covers:

  1. FAILURE TO TEST POLARITY HAS LEGAL CONSEQUENCES
  2. SAFETY ALERT – HAND SANITISER FIRE HAZARD (SHARED LEARNINGS)
  3. CERTAINTY ON METER INSTALLATION AND REPAIR TIMEFRAMES FOR CUSTOMERS
  4. INCIDENT ALERT – FALLS FROM WORK PLATFORMS (APPRENTICE FALLS 4m FROM A ROOF)
  5. RECENTLY PUBLISHED UPDATED AND NEW COMMISSIONER INFORMATION BULLETINS (CIBS)
  6. ESI – SCALING THE HEIGHTS: BENEFITS OF VERTICAL INTEGRATION OUTLINED IN NEW PAPER
  7. TECH PLAN POSITIVE FOR OUR FUTURE GRID

1. FAILURE TO TEST POLARITY HAS LEGAL CONSEQUENCES

On the 22 August 2018 the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal found an electrical contractor guilty of improper conduct.  The applicant was disqualified from holding any contractor licence or authority under the Home Building Act 1989 until 1 January 2019.

The case centred around whether an electrician effected a reverse polarity that caused a person to receive shocks from the bathroom taps when they were turned them on.  The incident occurred following an electrician, who held a Qualified Supervisor Certificate and a contractor licence, attended a property in late 2014 and re-connected a shed housing a water pump to power, the shed having been moved from its previous location to a new location closer to a dam on the property.

The Commissioner for Fair Trading’s (the Commissioner’s) investigation concluded that in late 2014:

  • the electrician carried out electrical wiring work for customer and failed to provide a written contract in accordance with requirements of s 7AAA of the Home Building Act 1989 (the HB Act) which is an offence under s 7A of that Act;
  • the electrician carried out wiring work associated with the relocation and reconnection of a water pump and shed housing for that pump for the customer and failed to carry out mandatory testing of that electrical work causing the shed and water pump to become electrified, being an offence under s 31(1) of the Electricity (Consumer Safety) Act 2004); and
  • the electrician carried out electrical work otherwise than with due care and skill or knowingly used faulty or unsuitable materials in the course of doing the work at the premises.

In relation to these matters, the Commissioner found “the electrician guilty of improper conduct under s 51 of the HB Act”. In a decision dated early 2017 which was affirmed in mid 2017, the Commissioner cancelled the electrician’s contractor licence under s 62(f) of the HB Act, disqualified the holder for a period of 6 months from being the holder of a contractor licence, supervisor certificate or tradesperson certificate under s 62(g) of the HB Act and imposed a condition that he complete an assessment on wiring rules AS/NZS 3000:2007 prior to reapplying for a licence following the disqualification period (under s 62(d) of the HB Act).

The Tribunal stated:

“At the centre of this dispute is the question of what caused the pump shed to become electrified and the taps in the bathroom at customer’s house to give shocks. The respondent contends that the electrician effected a reverse polarity at the shed when ‘the electrician’ re-connected the power ‘in late’ 2014.

The applicant, on the other hand, contends that I cannot be comfortably satisfied, on the basis of the evidence, that ‘the electrician’ effected a reverse polarity and suggests that the problem was most likely caused by a faulty neutral at the transformer pole.” …

“Testing carried out by the electrician:

In the affidavit, the electrician stated that, after taking the readings, the electrician then marked the neutral cable with black tape, turned off all the main power switches at the transformer pole and the house and connected the active cable from the pole to the active cable in the conduit. The electrician then undertook the same procedure with the neutral cable, attaching the taped cable coming from the third pole to the cable in the conduit that had been taped earlier. At the hearing the electrician said it was done even though at that stage the electrician had obtained strange readings and the electrician thought the multimeter might be faulty.

Two lineworkers gave very straightforward evidence to the Tribunal and one lineworker, in particular, was an experienced linesman. I accept the lineworker’s evidence and find that the lineworker’s testing showed there was no faulty neutral at the transformer pole which was the cause of the voltage at the shower taps. I also find that the lineworker carried out appropriate tests in order to ascertain the cause of the problem.

In light of the considerable problems with the evidence given by the electrician and in light of the expert evidence and my findings accepting the evidence of the lineworkers and others, the preponderance of evidence leads me to conclude that the electrician did not carry out the testing he claimed to have undertaken. I find that the electrician effected a reverse polarity at the pump shed so that it and the pump became electrified. How the electrician mixed up the wires has not been established but, whether the electrician marked the wrong cables or forgot to mark one or the tape somehow came off before the electrician connected the wires at the shed, is immaterial because the clear conclusion is that the electrician made an error in wiring the shed. If the electrician had carried out the appropriate testing, as claimed, the reversed polarity would have been found and corrected by the electrician.”

Finding:

“I find that the electrician is guilty of improper conduct under s 51(1)(a) as a result of the electrician failure to enter into a written contract for electrical work the electrician carried out for the customer at the premises in late 2014.  The electrician is also guilty of improper conduct under s 51(1)(b) because of the electrician’s failure to carry out mandatory testing of the completed electrical work, which is an offence under s 31(1) of the Electricity (Consumer Safety) Act 2004.  In the circumstances, I am satisfied the electrician carried out the electrical work otherwise than with due care and skill and is therefore also guilty of improper conduct under s 51(1)(d) of the HB Act.”

Why we test

This case provides a timely reminder why we always test, and the importance of testing from a safety as well as legal and livelihood point of view.  It also reminds us of the importance of having in place Safe Work Procedures (SWPs), and using the in the day-to-day performance of work, especially electrical work.

The ESP Project has established a suite of draft SWPs, for use as reference and training materials to engender a culture of safe work practices, as well for micro-businesses and self-employed to use as a base for adopting, adapting or developing their own SWPs.  Visit the ESP Project website and view or download a copy of a specific SWP: http://www.esproject.com.au/

To access a full transcript of the proceedings follow the NSW Caselaw URL: Mawbey v Commissioner for Fair Trading [2018] NSWCATOD 141


2. SAFETY ALERT – HAND SANITISER FIRE HAZARD (SHARED LEARNINGS)

The VANZ SHEQ Steering Committee has issues an alert regarding an incident of an employ sustaining first and second degree hand burns when the alcohol-based sanitiser caught alight.  The Injured Person (IP) touched a surface before their hands were completely dry. Due to static electricity, the hand sanitiser ignited with an almost invisible flame on both hands.

See attached alert notice.  Thanks go to the HIESN Chairperson for sharing and circulating the notice.

WorkSafe Victoria, have also issued an alert on the matter.  More information can be obtained from the following URL: RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH HIGHLY FLAMMABLE SUBSTANCES WHEN USING HAND SANITISER


3. CERTAINTY ON METER INSTALLATION AND REPAIR TIMEFRAMES FOR CUSTOMERS

AEMC has announced the making of a new rule on to provide certainty on meter installation and repair timeframes for customers with shared fusing.  In its latest news service AEMC outlines the purpose of the new rule and timeframes that have been established to provide customers with certainty and ensure timeframes are met by market participants. 

It states, “Shared fusing is when customers in separate premises share electricity connections, for example in some apartment blocks. This means the supply of all customers who share the connection may need to be interrupted for metering work.

In these circumstances, if a customer’s supply cannot be interrupted without interrupting supply to one or more other customers, then the current metering installation timeframes do not apply – potentially leaving customers without a new installation or service for an undefined time.

To address this gap, today’s final rule introduces new timeframes for meter installations where a customer shares fusing.”

For more information from the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) visit: PROVIDING CERTAINTY ON METER INSTALLATION AND REPAIR TIMEFRAMES


4. INCIDENT ALERT – FALLS FROM WORK PLATFORMS (APPRENTICE FALLS 4m FROM A ROOF)

Queensland’s Safety and Workers’ Compensation Services raises awareness of safe work practices and need to implement specific control measures including Safe Work Procedures (SWPs) for employees expected to work at heights, in its latest newsletter, following two recent incidents that are now under investigation. 

The Newsletter states, “The person conducting the business or undertaking (PCBU) must manage risks associated with falls at the workplace. Effective risk management starts with a commitment to health and safety from those who manage the business.”  Moreover, it provides a specific prosecution and compliance example, of an apprentice who fell 4m.

“In 2017, a business was fined $75,000 and a sub-contractor $30,000 after a young apprentice fell almost 4m from a roof while trying to retrieve a circular saw which was at risk of falling itself. The apprentice struck a concrete wall before landing on the ground sustaining concussion, cuts, abrasions and a laceration to his scalp. There was no edge protection or fall prevention control in place, no site induction, nor any work at heights training provided to the apprentice.”

More Information


5. RECENTLY PUBLISHED UPDATED AND NEW COMMISSIONER INFORMATION BULLETINS (CIBS)

Please find below links to the latest CIBs

Please note: All Commissioner’s Information Bulletins are located on the Training Services NSW website: https://www.training.nsw.gov.au/cib_vto/index.html


6. ESI – SCALING THE HEIGHTS: BENEFITS OF VERTICAL INTEGRATION OUTLINED IN NEW PAPER

The Australian Energy Council and ENA reports on the release of a new paper highlighting the benefits of vertical integration in the National Electricity Market (NEM) for energy businesses, new investment and competition.

The paper analyses vertical integration of a merchant energy business in the NEM to assess what drives it and why it is important to the flow of new investment. The paper uses 15 years of NEM data.

The Council states in the review of the paper finds the costs of the vertically integrated business are 15-17 per cent lower than the sum-of-the-parts. Earnings are 35 per cent higher and the businesses credit quality improves by 26 per cent. Economics of vertically integrated business is greater than either of the stand-alone businesses and the economic returns are 25 per cent higher than the sum-of-the parts.

For more information on the analysis of the paper visit: LATEST ANALYSIS or for a copy of the paper go to: ERG WORKING PAPER 2008 – VERTICAL INTEGRATION


7. TECH PLAN POSITIVE FOR OUR FUTURE GRID

On the 21st May 2020 the Commonwealth Government released its “Technology Investment Roadmap Discussion Paper”.  Energy Networks Australia (ENA) opines that it is a positive step towards planning Australia’s future energy grid.

The CEO of ENA, Andrew Dillon said he “welcomed the release of the discussion paper by Energy Minister Angus Taylor and said networks were looking forward to continuing to work with the Commonwealth on shaping Australia’s energy transformation.”  He went on to say, “A 21st-century energy system cannot continue to rely on 20th-century technology. … How our future energy system operates goes well beyond just what will replace coal, and this paper brings to the fore many of those potential technologies. … As the way we use technology evolves, careful investment in our transmission and distribution systems will be crucial, facilitated by measures such as the Commonwealth Government’s $1 billion Grid Reliability Fund.”

He said, “The paper highlights the contribution the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has made to technology development and how a key focus of ARENA’s work is now integrating variable renewable generation into the grid.”

The paper also reinforced the crucial role hydrogen would play in a sustainable energy future, and Mr Dillon said networks around the country were already trialling blending hydrogen gas into the distribution network.  “A sustainable energy future will involve a combination of electricity and gas, with hydrogen being a key component,” Mr Dillon said.

For more information and a copy of the media release, visit: ENA MEDIA


If you would like to contribute to this News Service please feel free to write to the undersigned accordingly.  Thank you.