ID #1042

What legislation provides the framework for electrical safety in the workplace?

The OHSW Act, 1986
The OHSW Act sets out the general requirements for protecting health and safety in the workplace. The Act makes it clear that everyone who may affect health and safety at work has responsibilities. This includes employers, employees and their representatives, designers and owners of buildings used as workplaces, manufacturers and suppliers of plant, electrical plant and substances used
at work.
The Act aims to bring employers, employees and their representatives together to resolve health and safety issues at work. The Act also gives powers to government inspectors from Workplace Services to inspect workplaces and investigate health and safety issues.
Employers’ duties under the Act are
to ‘ensure so far as reasonably practicable that the employee is, while at work, safe from injury and risks to health’. This is a wide-ranging responsibility that involves taking action to control risks associated with hazards in the workplace.
In determining what is reasonably practicable, employers must take into account the severity of the risk, knowledge about the hazard and ways to remove or reduce it, the availability and suitability of ways to reduce or remove the hazard, and the cost of taking action.
Employees must take reasonable care to protect their own health and safety, and the health and safety of others that may be affected by their actions or omissions at work. Employees’ responsibility for health and safety only extends to the things they have control over. However, they must cooperate with their employer in ensuring health and safety in the workplace.
The OHSW Regulations, 1995
The OHSW Regulations are made under the OHSW Act and set out
the general principles that provide practical steps for employers in preventing injuries and illness at work. These steps are:
• consultation with employees and their representatives
hazard identification to identify potential causes of injury
• risk assessment to assess how likely it is that hazards will cause injury and how serious this might be
• risk control to ensure that injuries are prevented by minimising the risk
• provision of information, instruction, training and supervision to ensure employees are aware of risks and control measures
• reporting of hazardous situations, fatalities and injuries so action is taken to prevent them from happening again.
The Regulations also address specific health and safety issues, such as workplace electrical safety, to provide a framework for employers to follow.
The Electricity Act, 1996, and the Electricity (General) Regulations, 1996
This legislation makes it mandatory for electrical installations (electrical wiring, accessories, fittings, consuming devices, control and protective gear and other equipment associated with the wiring) to be installed according to the Australian/New Zealand Standard Wiring Rules (AS/NZS 3000).
The legislation includes requirements for installation compliance testing. The Office of the Technical Regulator is the administrator of the Act and Regulations.
The provisions in the Regulations are to ensure that new or modified installations comply with AS/NZS 3000 before the supply of electricity is connected.
The Plumbers, Gasfitters and Electricians Act, 1995, and Regulations
This Act establishes a system for the licensing of electrical contractors and registration of electrical workers, which is accompanied by a disciplinary process.
The Act requires that a registered electrical worker must carry out all installation, alteration, repair and maintenance work on electrical fixed- wiring up to the socket outlet, although there are some exemptions provided.
Electrical contractors and workers are responsible for ensuring that the work they do is carried out according to the relevant standards. The regulatory authority is the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs (Attorney General’s Department).

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