Disciplinary hearings

Complaint/Disciplinary Cases

Date published:

Complaint/Disciplinary Cases

The Board held four disciplinary hearings during its August and September meetings. In one case an electrical worker installed an electrical fitting in a hazardous area. The case provides a reminder that exclusions zones around hazardous areas need to be strictly adhered to (refer to figure 4.10 of AS/NZS 3000 for the required distances).

In another case a photovoltaic system was installed in a negligent manner. The work was carried out by a trainee in whom the supervisor placed too much trust and whose work was not checked thoroughly enough. In short, the practitioner’s supervision was not up to the required standard. For example, in checking the work he did not go onto the roof where the majority of the work had been carried out and where the bulk of the issues lay.  Supervisors and trainees are both reminded to download, read, and use the Board’s Supervision Guides and to take supervision obligations seriously.

When installing photovoltaic systems electrical workers must comply with multiple standards. It is not just a case of carrying out the work so as to comply with AS/NZS 3000. Electrical workers must also comply with AS/NZS 5033 for the arrays and AS/NZS 4777.1 for inverters. The Board often hears cases where practitioners just apply AS/NZS 3000 and fail to appreciate that other standards must also be used. There is a good guide in the Toolbox on which standards apply and where to find them.

The Board has also dealt with a number of cases recently where electrical workers have not installed a multiple earther neutral link at the main switchboard. The failure compromises the safety of an installation as it is the connection to the earthing system. Often the failure has been the result of a lack of attention to detail or inadvertence. Electrical workers should always refer to and comply with the provisions of Section 5 of AS/NZS 3000 when carrying out prescribed electrical work and they must test their work to ensure that their work is compliant and, above all, safe. In the cases that have come before the Board testing was either not done or the results were not interpreted correctly. When testing, electrical workers should also reference AS/NZS 3017:2001 Electrical Installations and Verification Guidelines.

Finally, the Board successfully prosecuted an individual in the District Court for carrying out illegal prescribed electrical work. Details of the case follow the disciplinary hearing summaries.

Disciplinary Cases

AugustFindingPenalty
Practitioner 1 The electrical worker installed a socket outlet near a gas bottle and within a hazardous area. He was found to have carried out PEW in a negligent manner. He was also found to have failed to provide certification. The Board adopted a starting point of a fine of $2,000. There were mitigating circumstances which were taken into account. The fine was reduced to $800. Costs of $500 were ordered.
SeptemberFindingPenalty
Practitioner 1 The practitioner was found to have committed multiple disciplinary offences in relation to the install of a photovoltaic system under his supervision including that he had negligently created a risk of serious harm or significant property damage. There were multiple faults and failings. He was also found to have provided a false or misleading return. The matter proceeded by way of defended hearing, but the practitioner did accept some of the allegations. That was taken into account in setting the level of the fine and costs. The practitioner was fined $2,000 and ordered to pay costs of $1,000.
Practitioner 2 The practitioner was found to have carried out PEW in a manner that was contrary to an enactment and to have provided a false or misleading return. The matter proceeded by way of an agreed statement of facts in which the practitioner accepted his wrongdoing. There were significant mitigating factors. The Board decided to censure the practitioner and it ordered costs of $250.
Practitioner 3 The practitioner was found to have negligently created a risk of serious harm or significant property damage. The negligence included a failure to reinstall a MEN link. He was also found to have provided a false or misleading return. The matter proceeded by way of an agreed statement of facts in which the practitioner accepted his wrongdoing. The Board adopted a starting point of a fine of $3,000 but reduced this to $1,500 on the basis of the acceptance of wrongdoing. Costs were reduced to $500 on a similar basis.

EWRB v Innes Richardson [2019] NZDC 21359

On the 22nd of October 2019 the Board successfully prosecuted Mr Innes Richardson (the Defendant) for a breach of section 74 of the Electricity Act 1992. The Defendant carried out prescribed electrical work in a cow shed to temporarily deal with an electrical issue and to ensure milking operations could continue. The court noted that he was placed under significant pressure from the farmer to get the cowshed going.

The Judge adopted a starting point of a fine of $4,750. He took $750 off for the mitigating factors taking it down to $4,000 and applied a 25 percent discount for a guilty plea taking the fine down to $3,000. He directed that 90 percent of the fine go to the EWRB.