Electron Issue 103

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

Electron empowering today's electrical workers

Presiding Member's update

The Board welcomed two new Aspiring Board Members in July, Thomas Wiseman and Ben Wells. They will join the Board for the next year to get a taste of what it’s like to be a Board Member and learn some of the essentials of governance and the processes involved in disciplinary matters. Thomas is an Electrical Inspector from New Plymouth who works in the high-risk gas hazardous area field as a maintenance instrument and electrical technician. Ben is also an Electrical Inspector and an Electrical Engineer. He works in a consultancy firm doing electrical design and project management.

Business is returning to normal, but times will continue to be tough -, make sure you know what support is available and take advantage of what is on offer to help you get through. The Government’s COVID-19 recovery package, for example, includes a number of financial support options for businesses. An apprentice support programme has also been announced, which includes an ‘Apprentice Boost’, which provides financial help for employers to pay for new and existing apprentices who are in their first two years of training.

For further information see the Apprenticeship Support Programme on the Work and Income website(external link)

Mel Orange
Presiding Member

Registrar update

Kia ora, the last few months has seen the close of the Government’s financial year and a step into COVID-19 Alert Level 1. It is a good time to reflect on how far we have come as a country this year and the resilience that has been shown.

Alert Level 1 has seen the return to a sense of normality. Throughout the alert levels, all New Zealanders have needed to adapt the way we work and live. I have seen new and innovative ways of working and am looking forward to adopting these ideas into a new way of working. CHASNZ’s website has a great number of helpful resources for the new working environment, including site posters which can be displayed on work sites at Alert Level 1. They also provide a link to Mates in Construction, where trades workers can find mental health resources and services. 

The trades industries have seen a busy time with the lower alert levels. As we move past the middle of winter, we can see the days getting longer. Now looking towards spring, we can start to prepare for the new work inquires for the warmer months.  

Kia kaha, kia maia

Duncan Connor
Registrar of Electrical Workers

Living safely with electrical multi-boxes

WorkSafe advise that they continue to receive a concerning number of fire incident notifications resulting from the misuse of Electrical Portable Outlet Devices (EPODs), commonly known as power boards, or multi-boxes.

Significant property damage and life-threatening incidents have occurred from the use of standard household appliances that overload EPODs. This has caused overheating and connection failures of these devices resulting in fires.

Particularly during winter, when heating loads are higher, it is important to ensure the wider public are aware they should never use appliances that individually or in combination exceed the total loading of an EPOD or the socket-outlet supplying them, which is typically 10 amps (2300 watts).

Appliances with higher current usage such as heaters and kettles should be plugged directly into wall socket-outlets. It is important to note, a typical double socket –outlet combination still only has a combined total rating of 10 amps.

Further information and electrical safety guidance is available from the WorkSafe website:

Upcoming Changes to GASD and EGHRD Databases and Notifications

What is happening?

  • WorkSafe has decommissioned the Energy Safety Website (energysafety.govt.nz).
  • The databases Gas Appliance Supplier Declaration (GASD); and the Electricity and Gas High Risk Database (EGHRD) and notification forms have been moved to the WorkSafe website.

Why have WorkSafe made these changes?

  • WorkSafe needed to update the technology that supports these databases and notifications.
  • The updates will save WorkSafe money on running costs and maintenance.

What has changed?

  • The databases and notifications will look slightly different as WorkSafe have made it easier to enter your details and navigate.

What will I need to do?

  • You will receive an invite to link your RealMe login to the new website (this will be a one off requirement with instructions).

What’s next?

  • WorkSafe will contact you within the next week to provide details for logging into the new website. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact energysafety1@worksafe.govt.nz.

Energy Safety Team
WorkSafe NZ

Stalled Work and Safety

The Board often deals with disciplinary matters that arise as a result of a breakdown in the commercial relationship between the electrical worker and their client. When a breakdown happens, an electrical worker must leave an installation in a safe state. To leave the site in a safe state may require that steps are taken to ensure persons and property are safe from electrical hazards. To assist electrical workers in determining what they can and should do, the Board has developed a guidance document in its toolbox.

What happens if I can't finish a job, how can I certify that work?(external link)

Disciplinary cases

The Board has been able to continue with prosecutions of persons who carry out illegal prescribed electrical work since the Courts reopened for business. In the most recent case, Naveen Kumaran of Auckland was convicted on charges of performing unauthorised PEW and holding himself out as registered electricians under the Electricity Act 1992.

Mr Kumaran advertised his ability to carry out electrical and maintenance work in the New Zealand Herald. After engaging Mr Kumaran to install lights and switches at an address in Browns Bay, the homeowners had concerns with the work and, on investigation, they found out that Mr Kumaran was not a registered electrician authorised to carry out the work and reported this to the EWRB. 

Mr Kumaran had previously been prosecuted by the Board for similar offending. The Court, on this occasion, fined him $7,650 and ordered that he pay court costs and solicitor’s costs after he pleaded guilty to the charges. Electrical workers are asked to report any unauthorised persons who hold themselves out as being able to carry out PEW to the EWRB so Court action can be taken.

The Board will, in the next month or so, be publishing its complaint decisions on its website. Publication of disciplinary decisions is a common practice in New Zealand where there is a principle of open justice and open reporting where the courts have stated that there is a public interest in an adverse finding. 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.

April 2020 Finding Penalty
Damian Rogers

Mr Damian Rogers, an Electrician from Upper Hutt was found to have carried out and certified PEW without holding an active practising licence. His licence had expired in 2015 and was not renewed until the complaint was made.

The Board fined Mr Rogers $1,500. The fine was increased on the basis that he had failed over two licensing rounds to relicense. Costs of $225 were ordered. The matter was dealt with on the papers.

Practitioner 2

The electrical worker was found to have carried out PEW in a manner that was contrary to the Safety Regulations and to have provided a false or misleading return. The electrical worker failed to install an RCD and label a distribution board. There was also a loose connection between the main switch and a sub-board circuit breaker.

The electrical worker was fined $750. The fine was reduced from $1,500 on the basis that the electrical worker accepted his wrongdoing as well as remediating the work and compensating the owner. Costs of $450 were ordered. The costs were reduced as the matter was dealt with on the basis of an agreed statement of facts.

Practitioner 3

The electrical worker was found to have carried out PEW in a manner that created a risk of serious harm as well as having carried out PEW in a manner that was contrary to the Safety Regulations. The non-compliant PEW included installing fittings within a damp zone, failing to install an earth conductor and using a red sleeve over a green wire as an active conductor.

The disciplinary offending was very serious. The electrical worker stated he no longer wanted to work in the industry. The Board considered that the cancellation was appropriate as a punishment and to protect the public. The Board considered the penalty would also deter others from such conduct. The electrical worker's licence was cancelled for a period of five years. Costs of $1,000 were ordered. The costs were reduced as the matter was dealt with on the basis of an agreed statement of facts.

Practitioner 4

The electrical worker was found to have been negligent in his supervision and to have provided a false or misleading return. The negligence related to failures to provide adequate fire protective sealing measures for a switchboard, RCD protection to required circuits, and reliable connections on switch socket outlets.

The level of negligence was high. There was a complete failure to supervise. The non-compliant PEW was at the moderate level. A starting point of a fine of $2,000 was adopted. It was reduced to $1,500 on the basis of the electrical worker accepting responsibility and the matter being dealt with on the basis of an agreed statement of facts. Costs of $450 were ordered on the same basis.

Practitioner 5

The electrical worker was found to have carried out PEW in a manner that created a risk of serious harm as well as having provided a false or misleading return. The risk of serious harm related to a failure to connect the main neutral cable to the MEN point and a failure to adequately test an installation leaving it electrically unsafe.

A starting point of a fine of $4,000 was adopted. The fine was reduced to $3,000 on the basis that the electrical worker accepted his wrongdoing and that the matter was dealt with on the papers. Costs of $675 were ordered on the same basis.