Electron Issue 104

Keeping you up to date with the latest regulatory changes, exam reports, technical issues, consultation results and other issues affecting electrical workers - published October 2020.

Electron empowering today's electrical workers

Presiding Member's update

The Board has welcomed a new Member and farewelled another. Mac McIntyre’s term came to an end in August. Mac made a considerable contribution to the Board during his term, especially in the area of electricity transmission and distribution. The Board wishes to express its gratitude to Mac for his contribution to its functions over the term of his appointment.

Martin Perry has joined the Board. Martin is a Registered and Licensed Electrician. He runs a small business that develops and sells solar water heating solutions. Martin brings to the Board a wide range of experience in senior management roles, project management, power transformers as well as a depth of knowledge in general electrical work.

The Board’s business continues to be impacted by COVID-19, however, the altering COVID-19 Alert Level restrictions have had some positive impact with the Board now conducting much more of its business using video conference technology. The intention is to continue to use this technology but to also get back to having direct interaction with the industry through the Board’s breakfast Meet and Greets early in the New Year.

In this Electron, you will see that the Board has translated a Toolbox article about SDoCs and has translated it into Chinese. The Board has undertaken this to trial whether translations of key Board documents would be of assistance to those whose first language is not English, recognising the diversity of New Zealand and the electrical industry. We will be tracking usage of the article, and if the trial proves popular, the Board will look at other key documents and languages for translations. If you have any suggestions, please send them to ewrb@mbie.govt.nz.

Mel Orange
Presiding Member

Registrar update

Kia ora

Looking into the future I believe we should all be able to feel slightly more optimistic and not only because spring is here, and warmer weather is just around the corner.

Since July there has been a significant increase in the number of trainees coming into the industry compared to the same time last year, including electrical apprentices. This is a positive sign of a “bounce back” in the industry post lockdown, which presents excellent training opportunities for more people to become skilled electrical workers and bodes well for the future of our industry. With that being said, it is also an opportune time to pause and reflect on the supervision requirements of electrical trainees. Work pressures are becoming more pronounced as many construction projects are making up for lost time. It is now more essential than ever for employers and supervisors to review and ensure that they have correct procedures in place to provide safe and effective supervision.

Supervision is a very important activity and one that needs to be fully understood by all parties including employers, others with supervision responsibilities and those being supervised. To assist with this understanding the Board have published an easy to use Supervision Companion Guide which sets out, amongst other things a risk-based matrix to assist in establishing the correct levels of supervision. I strongly recommend that all parties involved in the supervision process become thoroughly familiar with this guide which is available from this link on the Board’s website.

Supervision Companion Guide [PDF, 2.4 MB]

Each edition of Electron now promotes one of the standards that are freely available from the Board’s online standards library. As indicated above, with the increased activity on construction sites it is timely that this edition features AS/NZS 3012, which covers the safe supply of electricity to construction and demolition sites.

I also strongly recommend that all electrical workers involved in construction and demolition sites become thoroughly familiar with this standard and for all electrical workers to take advantage of the other available standards in the Boards library. It is essential all electrical workers are aware there are often other standards that need to be complied with in addition to AS/NZS 3000:2007 which may be relevant to the work they are carrying out. I encourage all those that are unsure to take some time to find out what these standards are and access them from the Board’s library.

Electron is published for the benefit of you as an electrical worker and the wider electrical industry. With this in mind I am always interested in your thoughts with regards to what other featured standards or articles you would like to see in future editions. You are welcome to email your requests, suggestions or ideas to ewrb@mbie.govt.nz and I certainly look forwarding to hearing from you soon.

Kia Kaha, Kia Māia

Duncan Connor
Registrar of Electrical Workers

SDoC Article Translation to Chinese (Toolbox)

A new Toolbox article, including a Chinese translation, on Supplier Declarations of Conformity (SDoC) has been uploaded to the Toolbox.

Find out what fittings and appliances require SDoC, who can issue them, what information they should have, and other important requirements from this link:

Why are Supplier Declarations of Conformity (SDoC) important?(external link)

Construction and demolition sites: AS/NZS 3012:2010

Electron 98 contained an article about AS/NZS 3012:2010 Electrical installations — Construction and demolition sites. The standard must be used in association with AS/NZS 3000:2007 when excavation work, structural alterations, extensions, repairs or demolition work is being carried out.

Electrical workers often apply the standard when building work is being carried out but forget that it equally applies to demolition sites. AS/NZS 3012 does not define demolition, but it is commonly accepted as deconstruction which includes the decommissioning of electrical installations and equipment.

Like all standards AS/NZS 3012 aims to promote electrical safety. It also aims to protect those persons who are working on a construction or demolition site where there are added risks and dangers. In this respect, electrical workers are reminded of the provisions of regulations 100 and 101 of the Electrical (Safety) Regulations 2010(external link) (Safety responsibilities of person who carries out work and Responsibility of employers for safety of employees). Applying AS/NZS 3012 on a construction or demolition site will go a long way toward satisfying those requirements.

As with all required standards, AS/NZS 3012 is available via the Board’s Standards Portal.

There is also an excellent practical guidance resource on the Energy Safety web site(external link).

Safety versus cost

A common thread in complaint hearings is incidences of electrical workers cutting corners to keep the cost down and their client happy. If this results in non-compliant work, there can be a disciplinary finding against the practitioner, especially when cutting corners results in persons or property being put at risk by leaving an installation in an electrically unsafe state. The bottom line is that electrical workers must always carry out prescribed electrical work in a compliant manner - a client’s requirements or demands cannot override that requirement. Sometimes you simply have to say no, as putting your licence, livelihood and the safety of others at risk is simply not worth it.

Electrical workers should also be prepared to say no if a client supplies electrical equipment for installations if there are concerns about the safety and compliance of what they are being asked to install. By installing dangerous or non-compliant equipment, it is the electrical worker who becomes responsible for it, not the client who supplied it. Remember medium or general risk electrical equipment must be accompanied by an SDoC. If a valid SDoC is not provided with the equipment, then it cannot and should not be installed. The Board has an article in its Toolbox (including a Chinese translation) on SDoCs for your reference here(external link).

Disciplinary hearings

The Board has started publishing all of its disciplinary decision on its website. They can be viewed here.

Publication of disciplinary decisions is common practice in New Zealand where there is a principle of open justice and open reporting. By publishing its decisions, the Board hopes they will educate electrical workers and assist them to become more familiar with the Board’s disciplinary process and findings.

The Board’s hearings and decisions over May and June highlighted a number of cases where electrical workers were working outside of their registration limits or their personal competence. Electrical workers are reminded that whilst their class of registration and licence might provide them with the authorisation to do a certain type of Prescribed Electrical Work (PEW), they also need to be competent to carry it out. Competence is considered to be, having the necessary knowledge and skills to carry out the PEW in a safe and compliant manner. A failure to do so can result in a complaint of negligence or incompetence being made to the Board.

If you do not consider you have the required competence to carry out a certain type of PEW, then there are steps that you can take. These include undertaking training, seeking the assistance or tutelage of someone who is competent or getting the work checked by a competent person before it is connected to a power supply.

May 2020 Finding Penalty
Francis Torres Mr Torres negligently supervised PEW. Included in the Board’s findings were failures to install RCDs for socket outlets, one of which was in a damp zone.  Mr Torres also provided false or misleading certification. Mr Torres was fined $1,500 and ordered to pay costs of $450. The hearing was conducted on the papers, meaning that no one appeared at the hearing. The fine was reduced from a starting point of $2,000 on the basis that the matter was dealt with by way of an agreed statement of facts. The costs were also reduced on that basis.
Wayne Bennett Mr Bennett carried out, and certified PEW without a practising licence . The matter was dealt with on the papers through the Board issuing a draft decision and inviting further evidence and submissions. Mr Bennett did not accept any wrongdoing or any responsibility for his failure to renew his licence. The Board adopted a starting point of a fine of $1,500 as a deterrent to others. The fine was reduced to $750 on the basis that the matter was dealt with using a draft decision process. The Board ordered Mr Bennett to pay costs of $675.
Hayden Cullen Mr Cullen was found to have negligently created a risk of serious harm or significant property damage by leaving an installation in a dangerous and electrically unsafe state. The PEW related to a solar photovoltaic installation and the manner in which it was left resulted in a fire from arcing. The Board also found that Mr Cullen had provided false or misleading certification. The Board adopted a starting point of a fine of $5,000. The amount recognised the seriousness of the matter. The matter was dealt with on the basis of an agreed statement of facts, and Mr Cullen accepted his wrongdoing. On that basis, the fine was reduced to $4,000. Costs of $450 were ordered.
June 2020 Finding Penalty
Practitioner 1 The electrical worker carried out PEW in a manner that was contrary to an enactment and provided false certification. The Board did not uphold one charge relating to the type of conductor used. The electrical worker was censured for his conduct. He was also ordered to pay costs of $250. The matter was dealt with on the basis of an agreed statement of facts. The Board decided not to publish the electrical worker’s name on the basis that the offending was minor in nature.
Viliama Unga Mr Unga, an Electrical Services Technician (EST), carried out work that was outside of his licence class, the installation of a switchboard, and in doing so failed to install RCD protection. He was found to have negligently created a risk of serious harm or significant property damage, to have carried out PEW outside of the limits of his registration and to have provided false or misleading certification. Mr Unga was ordered, at his own cost, to undertake training and to pass a prescribed examination. He was also ordered to pay costs of $450. The matter was dealt with on the basis of an agreed statement of facts.
John Lodge Mr Lodge committed a disciplinary offence by failing to have high risk PEW inspected prior to it being connected to a power supply. He was also found to have failed to provide certification. The matter was dealt with on the papers. The respondent accepted his wrongdoing. He was fined $1,500 and ordered to pay costs of $450.
David Bovens Mr Bovens negligently created a risk of serious harm or significant property damage when he, amongst other things, used incorrect conductor identification, left primary insulation exposed and installed a switch in a damp situation without IP protection. Mr Bovens also provided false or misleading certification. Mr Bovens accepted he was working outside of his personal competence. The Board considered that a training order was appropriate. Mr Bovens was ordered, at his own costs, to complete and pass a practical course and to pass the Board’s regulations exam. He was ordered to pay costs of $450.

Prosecutions

The Board prosecuted Duncan Bennett in the North Shore District Court for carrying out PEW without any authorisation to do so. The PEW included the installation of a spa pool and relocation of power points during a renovation. The work was later found to be electrically unsafe and to pose a danger to life.

Mr Bennett was fined $7,650 and ordered to pay court costs and solicitor’s costs after he pleaded guilty to the charges of performing unauthorised PEW and holding himself as a registered electrician under the Electricity Act 1992. Mr Bennett also pleaded guilty to doing work in a manner dangerous to life and has been ordered to pay $1,417 reparation to the homeowner.

The matter came to the Board’s attention after a complaint was made about the installation of a heat pump. Following completion, the homeowner asked Mr Bennett if he was a registered electrician; he said that he was and returned to the house at least seven times to carry out prescribed electrical work while unsupervised, unlicensed and not registered. The homeowner had originally hired Mr Bennett after seeing an advertisement on Facebook.

Mr Bennett had previously held a Limited Certificate with the EWRB on two occasions, which would have permitted him to carry out PEW when supervised by a licensed electrical worker. At the time he carried out the work, his Limited Certificate had expired, and he was not authorised to undertake PEW.

The case is a good reminder to always check the register when working with persons to make sure that they are authorised to carry out PEW.