Disciplinary hearings - October 2021
When dealing with disciplinary offences, the Board must keep in mind that the purpose of professional discipline is to uphold the integrity of the electrical licensing regime. The focus is not punishment but the enforcement of a high standard of professional conduct. At the same time, however, punitive orders are necessary to deter other electrical workers from similar conduct and to ensure professional standards are upheld. The full range of penalties the Board can impose is set out in Section 147M of the Act.
Section 147M of the Act(external link) — New Zealand Legislation
The most common charge that comes before the Board in disciplinary hearings is the provision of a false or misleading return under section 143(f) of the Act. It usually arises as a result of an electrical worker certifying non-compliant electrical work in an Electrical Safety Certificate (ESC) or in a Certificate of Compliance (CoC). The Board, when determining whether a return is false or misleading, must consider it as a question of fact to be decided objectively. The intention of the issuer is not a relevant consideration, i.e., it is not relevant that an electrical worker did not intend to issue a false or misleading return.
An ESC must be issued for all prescribed electrical work. It must contain a statement to the effect that the installation or part installation is connected to a power supply and is safe to use. There is also a requirement that a CoC is issued for high and general risk prescribed electrical work. A CoC must state that the prescribed electrical work has been done lawfully and safely and that the information in the certificate is correct. Care must always be taken to ensure certification is accurate. More detail is better than less.
A case that recently came before the Board involved wiring that was installed in a prohibited location (under a skirting board). The electrical worker made a submission that protection had been provided by way of an RCD and that, in accordance with the provisions of clause 184.108.40.206 of AS/NZS:3000, the wiring was compliant.
Clause 220.127.116.11.1 of AS/NZS3000:2007 stipulates that there are prohibited locations for wiring systems:
Wiring systems shall not be installed through any space formed between roofing or wall-lining materials and its immediate supporting member
The question for the Board was whether clause 18.104.22.168 applied. In this respect, the Board noted that clause 22.214.171.124 did not apply to prohibited locations as it states that it relates wiring carried out in accordance with 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52.2. Therefore, as 184.108.40.206.1 was not included in the provision, the protection exception did not apply.
The Board, therefore, found that the wiring was not compliant with AS/NZS 3000. In making its decision, the Board noted that there was a very real risk that skirting board fixings or, indeed, any other fixing that penetrated the skirting board could pierce the conductor and that a competent electrical worker should be aware of the dangers posed by a conductor in close proximity to the surface.
|Practitioner 1||The electrical worker carried out prescribed electrical work in a manner that was contrary to an enactment, allowed an unauthorised person to carry out prescribed electrical work and provided a false or misleading return.||The non-compliant electrical work was minor in nature, and there were extenuating circumstances relating to the unauthorised work. The Board accepted that the conduct was out of character and that the risk of re-offending was very low. Given those factors, the Board decided that it would not take any disciplinary action. The Board ordered costs of $250.|
||The electrical worker was found to have carried out prescribed electrical work in a negligent manner when he transposed conductors on a power distribution unit and failed to test his work. The Investigator had not brought a charge of a risk of serious harm or significant property damage.||The electrical worker accepted that he had been negligent. The Board adopted a starting point of a fine of $1,500 but reduced this to a fine of $750 on the basis of the electrical worker’s acceptance of responsibility, employment consequences that had resulted and training action that had followed. The Board ordered costs of $250.|
||The electrical worker negligently created a risk of serious harm and significant property damage when he failed to adequately earth a heat pump. Without an adequate earth, there was a risk, under fault conditions, of an electric shock or a fire occurring. The electrical worker was also found to have provided a false or misleading return.||The electrical worker accepted responsibility for the non-compliant work. The Board noted, and took into consideration as a mitigating factor, that the electrical worker’s employment had been terminated and that he had to pay for remedial work. The Board considered a training order was appropriate. The electrical worker was ordered to pass the Board’s stage 3 practical assessment and to pay costs of $250. The Board directed that the electrical worker who was not licensed at the time was not to be re-licensed until he had passed the stage 3 practical assessment.|
|Practitioner 1||The electrical worker carried out prescribed electrical work in a negligent manner when he failed to secure a socket outlet and provided a false or misleading return.||The Board adopted a starting point of a fine of $1,000. The electrical worker accepted responsibility and made changes to his business practices. The Board reduced the fine to $500 and ordered costs of $250.|
|Practitioner 1||The electrical worker committed disciplinary offences when he carried out prescribed electrical work negligently and in a manner contrary to AS/NZS3000. The electrical worker also provided a false or misleading certificate of compliance.||The matter was dealt with at a defended hearing. There were multiple contraventions. The Board adopted a starting point of a fine of $2,000. The electrical worker had not previously appeared and had undertaken voluntary training. The fine was reduced to $1,500, and he was ordered to pay costs of $900.|
||The electrical worker committed three disciplinary offences under section 143(f) of the Act, two of which were failures to provide a return within the required timeframes and one of which was the provision of a false or misleading return.||The electrical worker accepted that he had committed the disciplinary offences. The Board noted that he had been impacted by personal circumstances at the time and that changes had been made to his business systems and practices as a result. The Board censured him and ordered costs of $250.|