Electron Issue 110

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

Electron empowering today's electrical workers

Deputy Presiding Member's update

Kia ora

This month’s Electron is focused on the new licensing platform. As a licensed electrical worker, I thought I would offer my insights into the benefits of the new system. First, however, a little about the role of the Deputy Presiding Member. Like the Presiding Member, the Deputy is elected to the position at the start of the year. The primary role is to act as the Presiding Member if he or she is not at a meeting or has a conflict. As Deputy, I also get involved in some of the operational activity that occurs between meetings. It is a rewarding role and a great opportunity to understudy the Presiding Member.

The new licensing system will be released this month, and the most significant change users will notice is the log in options.

RealMe has previously been the only log in option, and our contact centre receives many calls and emails from people who have lost or forgotten their login details. The new platform will offer 3 log in options: RealMe, Google, or Microsoft. Having these options will make access to the platform easier for users.

The team have been transferring existing data to the new platform, so when you log in, all your details will be there. If you need to update your details, this can be done from the homepage, and there is an option to update or add a photo.

You can now submit your licence applications online through the new system and view the status.

Competency providers will now upload directly to the system. Once you have completed your competency course, you will be able to see when it has been uploaded and then apply for your new practising licence.

If you do individual professional development, this can also be uploaded to the platform as a record.

An online guide will be available to help navigate the new system, and our EWRB website will contain more information on how to use and access the system once it is live.

Russell Keys
Deputy Presiding Member

Registrar update

Kia ora koutou,

Welcome to the October 2021 edition of the Electron.

I am very conscious that a mere 2 weeks after the issue of the previous Electron in August, the whole country, within a short timeframe, went into a level 4 lockdown.

Despite all the significant flow-on effects and challenges, none more so than the Auckland region, I am feeling optimistic. I have witnessed continued improvements as we progress to normality or a new normality. As a country and electrical sector, we have remained resilient and united, plus it is hard not to feel a promise of hope with the beginning of spring.

I would like to introduce and highlight a number of the featured articles where you can access further details.

Consultation on registration changes

In the last Electron I agreed to share some of the key findings from the electrical workers online survey. I have decided to defer feedback because this edition coincides with a major consultation document and associated draft gazette notice.

These outline the Board’s strategic direction with aligning the regulated risk based on prescribed electrical work categories, limits of work with registration classes and introduces special high-risk endorsements.

These and other changes have potential impacts on the wider electrical industry. I would encourage all electrical workers, including trainees, employers and the wider electrical sector, to consider and provide feedback on the suggested proposals in the consultation, which closes on 29 October 2021.

New Competency Programme Audit Scheme

A new scheme has been established by the Board to ensure consistency, quality and compliance across all delivered programmes.

While the primary goal is to ascertain programme compliance, electrical workers should ensure they are well prepared to undertake the practical assessment element of the programme. I recommend if anyone is unsure or not familiar with what they need to have, or do, before attending a programme, to contact their programme provider for advice.

It is also timely to remind all electrical workers to book competency programmes (CP) well in advance of their licence expiry date. Leaving it until the last moment is risky if courses are cancelled at short notice or not available, leaving the person with an expired practising licence and no backup course to attend.

A CP remains current for 2 years before the expiry of the licence, and booking 6 months or 1 year ahead would allow a good safety margin rather than leaving it to the last minute when things can go wrong.

Update on new online platform going “live”

It is expected the new system will go live this month, and I would like to express my thanks to all of those involved in the project, including the stakeholders that participated in the user testing.

As mentioned, we will continue to work hard to ensure the transition is as seamless as possible.

Important safety message

This issue of Electron contains a very important safety message on mains polarity testing, transpositions and what can go wrong if incorrect testing procedures are used.

It highlights the need to verify the polarity of mains before they are energised, and there are serious safety risks if de-energised testing is not carried out in the first instance.

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 Registrations@ewrb.govt.nz.

Duncan Connor
Registrar of Electrical Workers

Update to Licensing Platform

The new Electrical Workers Occupational Licensing Platform (OLP) will be live from Monday 18 October.

During September, we ran a short series of online demonstrations to showcase the new platform and its functionality. Recordings of these demos are available if you would like to check them out. We’ve also developed a user guide to support new users. This guide will be available online once the platform is live.

Recordings of online demonstrations

System outage

The information held in the old Electrical Worker portal will be transferred to the new OLP. Between 8pm on Tuesday 12 October and 12pm on Monday 18 October the whole Electrical Worker portal will be unavailable. You will not be able to access the system during this time. This outage will ensure that when the OLP goes live on Monday, 18 October, all the right information is there.

If your licence application is due to be processed during the changeover, we will email you before your due date to guide you through this process. 

What's going to be different about the new Occupational Licensing Platform (OLP)?

You will need to register with the new system because we can’t bring over your existing details– but we’ll have your profile ready for you. When you log in for the first time, you will have three ways to log in—using your RealMe account, a Microsoft account or a Google account. 

Having these extra account options means you can choose which service you want to use to log in, depending on which suits you best. The account you choose the first time you log in will be the one you use every time in the future. There will be ways to set up new log in methods if you lose access to that account.

The new OLP will also have some additional self-service options. For example, you will be able to submit and review your own applications online for a wider range of licences or registrations.

An online guide will be available, which will show you how to complete an application. This guide will also be printable.

What's staying the same?

The requirements for registering and renewing your licence are still the same. For example, for a renewal, you will need to be up-to-date with your competency training and have a valid photo if you wish to change your current photo. You will need to ensure your contact details are up-to-date and make a payment of $250 for a two-year licence.

Proposed changes to electrical worker licensing

The Electrical Workers Registration Board (the Board) is seeking submissions on proposed changes to electrical worker licensing. We encourage all electrical workers and other interested parties to give us feedback on the proposals.

The Board is seeking your feedback on options for changes to electrical worker licensing in four areas:

  1. refining the way limits of work are described across the full range of registration classes administered by the Board
  2. strengthening the existing registration criteria by making adherence to the Fit and Proper Person Policy a constant condition of holding a licence
  3. adjusting the registration requirements for Electrical Workers in a select few licence classes to clarify progression pathways
  4. introducing four new endorsements: Mains Parallel Generation Systems, Supervision, Medical Cardiac Protected Electrical Area, and Hazardous Areas.

Please see the consultation page to read more and share your feedback.

A stepped framework: Consultation on proposed changes to the limits of work, registration requirements and endorsements for electrical workers

New audit scheme for Competency Programmes

The Board have established an ongoing quality assurance auditing regime directed towards the electrical worker Competency Programme (CP), and Telarc Ltd is the appointed auditor.

Over the course of last year, a number of pilot audits were carried out to establish the principals/requirements for the ongoing auditing regime, and the Board would like to thank those participating providers.

While the initial audit focus will centre on the Auckland region (COVID levels permitting) where the highest number of providers are based, Telarc will also be conducting audits in other regions.

Electrical workers attending a CP that is subject to an audit will not notice anything different apart from the attendance of an auditor who will be evaluating the course and assessments are carried out to the Boards requirements.

However, to assist with the smooth running of the audit, attendees should ensure they come well prepared with the knowledge, skills and instruments to undertake the practical testing assessment.

More information on those and other requirements:

Important safety warning

The Board have been made aware of recent incidents involving mains transpositions that created serious fire and electrocution risks because they were energised before polarity testing was carried out.

While these incidents are under investigation, initial findings suggest the mains were livened before they were tested, which should never happen. If mains are energised without initially verifying polarity, and they are inadvertently transposed, this will create an immediate and serious risk of fire and electrocution as soon as they are energised.

All people that carry out work on mains MUST ensure polarity testing is ALWAYS carried out BEFORE the mains are energised.

Guidance to polarity testing is available in Standard AS/NZS 3017 Electrical installations-Verification Guidelines. This and over 90 other electrical Standards are available for all licensed electrical workers to access free from the Board’s portal.

Electrical Workers Registration Board portal(external link)

Review of the Electricity Act 1992

The Board must, once every 5 years, provide a report to the Minister of Building and Construction, which reviews the operation of the Electricity Act (the Act). The report must consider whether any amendments to the Act are necessary or desirable.

The Board has identified various areas of the Act where it considers amendments may be beneficial. It will release a discussion document in due course and will be talking to electrical workers about the changes at the various stakeholder sessions.

The report contains submissions and discussion on a range of topics that would be of interest to other parties that are regulated under the reviewed parts of the legislation.

Report on the review of the Electricity Act 1992 by the Electrical Workers Registration Board Pursuant to Section 158 of the Electricity Act 1992  [PDF, 1.9 MB]

Expressions of Interest for Future Board Member Programme

Expressions of interest for the programme are open now. To apply, send your CV and a cover letter detailing why you want to join the programme and how it assists in your career development to info@ewrb.govt.nz

Open expression of interest for the Future Members programme

Supervision ratios

The Board is reviewing its supervision guidelines. As part of the review, it will be issuing guidance on supervisor to supervisee ratios. It is keen to hear from electrical workers on what the appropriate ratios may be and what should be taken into consideration when looking at supervision ratios.

If you have a view, please email the Board at info@ewrb.govt.nz

Disciplinary hearings

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.

You can find practical guidelines on certification in the Board’s Toolbox

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 3.9.4.4  of AS/NZS:3000, the wiring was compliant.

Clause 3.9.4.3.1 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 3.9.4.4 applied. In this respect, the Board noted that clause 3.9.4.4 did not apply to prohibited locations as it states that it relates wiring carried out in accordance with 3.9.4.2 and 3.9.4.3.2. Therefore, as 3.9.4.3.1 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.

May 2021
Finding Penalty
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.
Practitioner 2
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.
Practitioner 3
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.
June 2021 Finding Penalty
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.
July 2021 Finding Penalty
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.
August 2021 Finding Penalty
Practitioner 1
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.

 

Prosecutions

EWRB v Ion Hangiu

On 12 August 2021, Ion Mr Hangiu, a self-employed person, was sentenced for carrying out unauthorised prescribed electrical work in breach of the Electricity Act 1992.

He explained to the Court that he was under pressure from residents at a house to get a bathroom completed so it could be used. He said he understood that it was wrong and that it was a mistake.

The Judge decided that the offending fell at the lower end and that the circumstances indicated the offending was driven by an error of judgment under pressure from the occupants of the address where Mr Hangiu was doing work.

The Judge noted it was not commercially motivated and that Mr Hangiu was a good man who made a mistake and has learnt his lesson. Accounting for Mr Hangiu’s guilty plea, good character, lack of previous convictions, and remorse, the Judge imposed a fine of $700 plus solicitor’s costs of $226 and court costs of $130.