Electron Issue 108

Keeping you up to date with the latest regulatory changes, exam reports, technical issues, consultation results and other issues affecting electrical workers - published June 2021.

Electron empowering today's electrical workers

Presiding Member's update

For the last couple of years, the Board has been running a ‘Future Members’ programme. The programme runs for a year and offers an opportunity for selected electrical workers with future Board aspirations to gain an understanding of what the Board does and what it is like to be a Board member.

The programme involves induction and governance training and the Future Members joining the Board for a number of meetings and hearings. Future Members are also assigned a mentor to help with their development.

The most recent Future Members programme has finished, and the Board thanks both Thomas Wiseman and Ben Wells for taking part and for their contributions. With their terms coming to an end, the Board will be looking to appoint new Future Members for 2022. An invitation to submit expressions of interest will be in the next Electron.

At the Board’s March meeting, it was decided to adopt updated core competencies for installations. The updated core competencies were developed with key industry stakeholders. They provide more detail and a clearer competency framework that takes new and developing technologies into account. The updated core competencies were used by Skills in the development of the revised level 3 and 4 electrical qualifications. They are available on the Board’s website

Essential Capabilities for Electrical Registration [PDF, 930 KB]

Now the Board has completed its work on installation core competencies, it will start a project to develop core competencies for Works. A technical committee of industry subject matter experts will be formed for this purpose. Once draft competencies are developed, key industry stakeholders will be consulted before any competencies are adopted.

In this Electron, you will find reports on three disciplinary decisions the Board made about Yehui Zhai, an Electrical Engineer. The decisions were made in June 2020, but Mr Zhai appealed the Board’s decisions to the District Court.

When a decision is appealed, the Board cannot report on it until the appeal is decided. In this case, the District Court dismissed the appeals, and the Board can now report on the cases. These decisions carry a lesson for all electrical workers: prescribed electrical work should only be carried out or supervised if it is within their personal competence, skillset, and knowledge to ensure work is undertaken in a safe and compliant manner.

Mel Orange
Presiding Member

Registrar update

Kia ora,

Welcome to the June 2021 and 108th edition of Electron.

Update on new online platform for electrical workers

This year’s February edition of Electron promised a progress update on the development of a new online platform intended to improve the way electrical workers interact with the Board and with the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

This change is part of a move to improve the user experience for electrical workers. Registering, relicensing and keeping on top of competency requirements on this new platform will be easier, and there will be more relevant display information on the public register.

There is also long term potential to join this new platform up with an MBIE learning management system. This would mean the platform could be used to assess and record electrical worker competencies.

Recently the Board and I had an opportunity to take a look at the new system. I was really pleased to see the substantial progress made with its development, and it was well received by the Board.

On behalf of the Board and myself, I and would like to extend our thanks to the project team and all MBIE staff who have contributed and continue to work diligently to bring this project closer to completion. I am excited by the improvements and possibilities this will present for electrical workers.

Updates on these system changes and guidance on using the new system will be available later in the year to ensure you are well prepared for any changes.

Issuing Warrants of Electrical Fitness (WoEF)

There have been a number of reported incidences where Warrants of Electrical Fitness (WoEF) may have been wrongly issued for unsafe or non-compliant installations.

There is an article in this edition that talks about the issuing of WoEF for connectable installations, such as caravans and other recreational vehicles. This article includes links to useful information on issuing WoEF and safety of electrical appliances requirements in recreational vehicles. I strongly recommend you take some time to review this information if you issue or are intending to issue WoEF in the future.

I would like to reiterate a recent Board determination made during a disciplinary hearing earlier this year, in which the Board deemed the issue of a WoEF was, for the purposes of the legislation, prescribed electrical work.

Maintaining safety of decommissioned electrical installations

In this edition of Electron, we also look at maintaining the safety of decommissioned electrical installations which promotes the use of standard AS/NZS 4836.

I would recommend anyone who is not familiar with this standard, or anyone needing to refresh their knowledge, to read this article.

This important cited standard has a set of procedures, safety requirements and controls intended to provide a safe working environment when working on or in electrical installations.

Tell us about your experiences

The EWRB will soon be conducting a survey of electrical workers to gather information about how to better meet your needs. Findings from the survey will help us gain a better understanding so we can look to improve our products and services to serve you better. It will also provide the opportunity for you to make suggestions for improvements.

We are really interested to hear your feedback and encourage you to take some time to complete the survey when it goes live in late June.

Finally, thank you for taking the time to read Electron. If you have any comments or suggestions for future editions, please let me know by emailing ewrb@mbie.govt.nz

Duncan Connor
Registrar of Electrical Workers

PEW and Electrical WoEF

Recreational vehicles (caravans, motorhomes and boats) with connectable installations (including appliances) pose a greater risk of electric shock and fire. This is due to:

  • their small spaces and close conditions;
  • the expanses of conductive materials;
  • the different energy sources (electricity and gas) they use; and
  • the use of the vehicle as sleeping accommodation.

As a result of their heightened risk, these installations (and their appliances) are subject to ongoing safety verification and need to be issued with a Warrant of Electrical Fitness (WoEF) to ensure the required level of safety is maintained.

There have been a number of recent complaints and Board investigations relating to the issuing of WoEF by electrical inspectors for unsafe caravans that should not have been issued a warrant without having prior remedial work carried out.

One recurring issues is where older style caravans and associated annexes have been modified from their original electrical design standards, and the required upgrades and maintenance have not been carried out.

In some cases, the required residual-current device (RCD) and overcurrent protection have not been installed. In other cases, appliances forming part of the WoEF requirements were unsafe due to inadequate earthing and/or exposed basic insulation.

A reminder to all inspectors that a WoEF should only be issued if the installation and its appliances are safe and compliant. It is also important to note if an earlier WoEF was issued wrongly, a new warrant should only be issued if the existing identified unsafe and/or non-complaint areas of the installation have been corrected.

Further guidance on requirements for issuing WoEF and electrical safety for recreational vehicles are available from the WorkSafe and Energy Safety links listed below:

Leaving a decommissioned areas safe

It is so important that any electrical installation in the process of being decommissioned or fully decommissioned - as in the case of a demolition site - remains safe and does not present any avoidable shock hazards during the deconstruction process.

Parts of buildings undergoing alterations, deconstruction, or full/partial demolition often need to be provided with a temporary power supply. These circumstances present added danger and greater risk to any person working in those areas. Care must be taken to ensure these risks are identified and the appropriate controls are put in place.

Control measures may include:

  • testing
  • isolation or lockout procedures
  • identification, labelling
  • removing out of  service equipment and cables

An important reminder that there are provisions under regulation 13(external link) of the Electricity (Safety) Regulations which state that when a person does any prescribed electrical work on an installation, they must ensure the installation is left electrically safe, and no other part of the installation has been detrimentally affected. Additionally, while carrying out work, all person(s) and property must be protected from dangers arising as a result of that work.

Further guidance on available control measures and how to apply them is in standard AS/NZS 4836; which is freely available for all licensed electrical workers from the Board’s portal.(external link)

Standards of the Month

AS/NZS 3003 electrical installations – Patient areas

This standard specifies special requirements for electrical installations (including additions or alterations) in medical locations where patient treatment is carried out.

These areas can include doctor’s consulting rooms, medical centres, dental surgeries, nursing homes hospital operating theatres and all other locations where electrical medical equipment is used on a patient.

AS/NZS 3003 requires these areas to be classified as either ‘body-protected’ or ‘cardiac-protected’ electrical areas, and stipulates additional wiring requirements to those set out in AS/NZS 3000. It is important to note installations in those classified areas are considered high risk and require independent inspection.

AS/NZS 3551 Management programs for medical equipment

This standard outlines the procedures required to develop management programs for medical equipment. Its overall aim is to ensure medical equipment remains safe and functional.

AS/NZS 3551 is intended to also be used as a guide for those responsible for the procurement testing installation, maintenance calibration and operation of medical equipment.

The principles and provisions in the standard are applicable to medical equipment in doctor’s clinics, medical centres, private and public hospitals, and for those servicing or testing medical equipment in any of those areas.

AS/NZS 3551 and AS/NZS 3003 and over 90 other electrical Standards are available for all licensed electrical workers to access for free from the Board’s portal(external link).

Tell us about your experiences

The EWRB will soon be conducting a survey of electrical workers to help us understand the levels of service we are providing so that we can look at how to better meet your needs.

This survey will be a great opportunity for you to tell us about your recent experiences and thoughts on how we can improve our services. NielsenIQ, an independent research company, will be carrying out this confidential survey on behalf of the EWRB and results will not be reported in a way that will allow you to be individually identified.

You will be contacted in late June with more details about the survey and how to take part.

Disciplinary hearings

Yehui Zhai Electrical Engineer (EE 277651, EW 139246)

In June 2020, the Board held three hearings (complaint numbers CE22212, 222133 and 22214) about Mr Yehui Zhai, an electrical engineer from Auckland. The Board found Mr Zhai had, in all three matters, negligently created a risk of serious harm to persons and a risk of significant property damage through having carried out or caused to be carried out prescribed electrical work. The Board also made various other disciplinary findings in respect of the PEW.

The Board noted that the manner in which the PEW had been carried out by Mr Zhai, and the state it was left in by him, indicated he was taking on work he was not competent to do.

Electrical workers are reminded while the class of licence they hold may authorise them to carry out certain types of PEW, if they do not have the personal competencies, they should not do the work until they have obtained the knowledge and skills needed to complete it in a safe and compliant manner.

The Board decided that Mr Zhai’s licence should be suspended until he had completed the following training:

  • All of the year three on job units mandated by Skills;
  • The 1,2 and 3 Practical Assessment Course, as well as passing the Board’s Stage 1,2 and 3 Practical Assessments; and
  • The Regulations Course, as well as passing the Board’s Regulations Exam.

Mr Zhai was ordered to pay costs of $1,000 for each of the three matters. Mr Zhai had accepted the facts on which the Board made its decisions, but appealed the Board’s decisions to the District Court. Those appeals were dismissed.

February and March Disciplinary Hearings

The Board dealt with a disciplinary matter in February 2021, which involved an electrical worker finishing off the PEW of another electrical worker as a favour.

The electrical worker noted non-compliant work but did not take steps to rectify it before connecting and livening the installation. When he certified and connected the PEW, the electrical worker took responsibility for its compliance, and this led to the Board’s disciplinary finding.

This case is a reminder that it’s important for all electrical workers to take care when taking responsibility for another’s work. Before completing, connecting and certifying PEW undertaken by others, electrical workers must ensure it is safe and compliant. Failure to do so may result in a complaint and a disciplinary finding.

In another case, an electrical worker had let his personal competence slip over time. His regulatory knowledge had slipped, and he had not kept himself up to date.

Keeping up to date on regulatory changes and standards is fundamental to maintaining a licence. Electrical workers are encouraged to undertake their own training and to ensure they are informed about what is happening in their industry.

The Electron is one way of doing this - other ways include:

Electrical workers can also subscribe to Standards(external link) and Energy Safety updates(external link) or join a membership organisation to get additional training and resources.

February 2021 Finding Penalty
Practitioner 1 The Respondent was found to have carried out PEW in a negligent manner and to have provided a false or misleading return. The non-compliant work, which was originally carried out by another electrical worker, was not rectified prior to it being connected and livened. The Respondent, who was aware of the compliance issue, was negligent when he failed to deal with it. The Board adopted a starting point of $2,000. A reduction was granted as the matter was dealt with by way of an agreed statement of facts. Further reductions were granted in recognition of other mitigating factors that were present. The fine was set at $500. The Respondent was also ordered to pay costs of $250.
March 2021 Finding Penalty
Practitioner 1 The electrical worker carried out PEW in a manner that was contrary to an enactment. He also provided a false or misleading certificate of compliance and failed to provide an electrical safety certificate. The electrical worker was an electrical inspector. He was not working as an inspector and had no need for that class of licence. He lacked up to date knowledge as an inspector. He accepted a downgrade in his licence to that of an electrician. Costs of $250 were ordered. The matter was dealt with on the basis of an agreed statement of facts.
Practitioner 2 The Respondent, an electrical appliance serviceperson, carried out PEW outside of the limits of his licence and registration when he installed and connected conductors. The Board imposed a course of instruction that was to be completed at the Respondent’s cost. Given the expense to be incurred, the Respondent decided not to impose any costs.
Practitioner 3 The Respondent was found to have carried out PEW in a negligent manner and to have provided a false or misleading return. The negligent PEW related to poor and unreliable conductor connections. The certification incorrectly identified the work as low risk when it was general risk PEW. The offending was at the lower end of the scale. A starting point of $1,500 was adopted. After taking into account the mitigating factors, including that the matter was dealt with by way of an agreed statement of facts, the Board ordered a fine of $750. Costs of $250 were also ordered.

 

Prosecutions

EWRB v Dane Polkinghorne

On 29 April 2021, Mr Dane Polkinghorne appeared in the Gisborne District Court, where he pleaded guilty to charges brought against him by the Board for carrying out unauthorised PEW. Mr Polkinghorne had relocated a switch for an extractor fan in a Menzshed to make it more accessible. He did the PEW himself because the club could not afford an electrician. The Judge noted Mr Polkinghorne was trying to do something charitable but the EWRB has a responsibility to ensure electrical work is carried out safely. The Judge set a starting point of the fine to $4,000, which she reduced to $2,000 for mitigating factors: including the guilty plea, remorse, and a willingness to put the matter right.