Complaints - making and avoiding complaints

Past Electrons have contained articles about the disciplinary process under the Electricity Act.

This article focuses on:

  • how to avoid complaints;
  • when to make a complaint about others; and
  • electrical worker obligations to report electrical accidents to WorkSafe and to notify WorkSafe of situations which present an immediate danger to life or property.

Avoiding Complaints

Doing compliant prescribed electrical work and timely accurate certification is, of course, the best way to avoid complaints. At times though, even the most competent and compliant of electrical workers can find that a complaint is made about them. As such, a few tools to avoid and deal with complaints if they are made can be of use.

A high number of complaints before the Board, in addition to issues with the prescribed electrical work, have elements of a commercial dispute between the electrical worker and their client. It is often apparent that the commercial dispute has not been well managed and, as a result, the client has resorted to making a complaint. Whilst the Board cannot hear or deal with complaints of a commercial nature there is often evidence of non-compliant electrical work which must be investigated. This leads to two things electrical workers should keep in mind:

  • deal with commercial disputes as they arise logically and dispassionately; and
  • have an exit strategy when the commercial relationship breaks down. There is a further article about this in this edition of the Electron. The key is to ensure installations and appliances are electrically safe, or they are isolated, or precautions are taken to protect persons and property if you are excluded from a work site. Such precautions can include written and verbal warnings or engaging another electrical worker to make an installation or appliance safe.

Another one of the common failings that leads to complaints being heard by the Board is a failure to provide accurate and timely certification. You should treat certification like an insurance policy. Clear certification is good evidence that is hard to argue against. Unfortunately, a lot of the certification that the Board sees in disciplinary hearings is poorly completed and offers little assistance to the electrical worker when they are trying to defend themselves.

Making Complaints

Being a registered electrical worker brings with it a duty to hold others to account and to maintain the integrity of the licensing scheme. The Board can only deal with illegal work carried out by non-registered persons or noncompliant work by electrical workers if it is brought to its attention. To assist the Board has, in conjunction with the Plumbers Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board, developed the Report a Cowboy App. Available on smart devices Report a Cowboy allows the user to report concerns. You can ask for your details to be kept confidential as part of the process. Download and use the App and help keep the public and other electrical workers safe.

There are also situations where you must, under the Electricity Act and the Electricity (Safety) Regulations report certain matters to WorkSafe.

Section 16 of the Electricity Act and Regulation 19 of the Electricity (Safety) Regulations

Section 16 requires that an electrical worker notify WorkSafe of an accident that is caused by or involves electricity which results in serious harm (as defined in the Act) to any person damage to any place that renders it unusable.

Regulation 19 also imposes an obligation on an electrical worker to notify WorkSafe where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the works, installation, fitting, or appliance presents an immediate danger to life or property.

WorkSafe maintains guidance on what needs to be notified and a web page from which to make notifications.

Remember that under Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 there are also obligations to report other workplace notifiable events.

Visit the WorkSafe site for more information and guidance on what needs to be notified(external link).

It is recommended that you bookmark this page for future reference.