Electron Issue 113
Keeping you up to date with the latest regulatory changes, exam reports, technical issues, consultation results and other issues affecting electrical workers - published April 2022.
Presiding Member's update
The Board is continuing a theme of articles about women in the electrical industry. At present, about 4 percent of electrical workers are female. With an ever-increasing demand for electrical workers, women present a largely untapped resource.
A recent research project commissioned by the Ministry of Women and Ako Aotearoa titled ‘Women in Trades’ looked to increase female participation "where they are traditionally underrepresented". The report found there were five key barriers to women entering and working in the trades:
- lack of knowledge about the opportunities within the trades;
- lack of work experience;
- finding employers willing to employ women;
- male-dominated culture of the trades; and
- lack of support for women in the trades.
The bottom line, the report found, was that a long-term cultural change is necessary. Those presently in the electrical industry need to lead that change to make it an attractive career option and to ensure those that enter the industry remain. Electrical worker’s willingness to employ female trainees and their attitudes toward them will have a large part to play in this.
Kia ora koutou,
Welcome to the 113th edition of the Electron newsletter for April 2022.
Although there continues to be evolving events beyond our control, the final effects of which we are yet to witness, I think it would be fair to say that as individuals, organisations, and as a sector, we are now presented with more certainty and confidence as New Zealand moves into a less restrictive phase to the pandemic response.
I am sure you would all agree that to better serve the communities the electrical sector works with, individuals and organisations should be well prepared with the appropriate skills and knowledge to ensure all electrical work carried out is safe and compliant.
I would like to introduce and highlight several featured articles in this edition of the Electron.
Standard AS/NZS 3008.1.2:2017 Electrical installations – selection of cables provides a method for selecting the appropriate minimum-sized cable for commonly used NZ applications. It provides tables and a significant amount of explanatory material on the application of different rating factors that arise in common installation conditions or environments.
As most of you are aware, there are various digital “apps” that can be downloaded and used to assist in selecting suitable cables for various situations. However, an overreliance on the recommendations of these “apps”, at face value, without the user having the knowledge and ability to at least “ballpark” check the results with their own manual calculations, or reference to appropriate tables in AS/NZS 3008.1.2: 2017, presents a real risk that the incorrect cable could be selected.
This has a potential to create an unsafe situation or an unnecessary expense as a smaller sized cable could have been more appropriate for the job. It is important that any person selecting cables or designing circuits has a good working knowledge in the theory of cable selection, the factors involved, and be able to carry out basic cable selection calculations without the use of an “app”. Being familiar with this Standard will go a long way towards achieving this.
Identification using Mag-slab
The Board are aware of an issue raised regarding the use Mag-slab as a means for identifying underground cables instead of the “orange marker tape” you may be familiar with.
The use of Mag-slab in this situation may not comply with AS/NZS 3000:2007 and WorkSafe have provided an opinion on this matter.
Faulty or unsafe domestic appliances are a regular cause of fires in the home. WorkSafe have issued a safety warning for older combination bathroom heat/lighting/fan units and advises these should be regularly checked. The link to the WorkSafe article features images of burnt fittings and what indicators to look out for when carrying out checks.
Energy Safety have also provided a safety update on the safe installation of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations (EVSE), specifically relating to domestic installations.
Warrants of Electrical Fitness (WoEFs)
The Board are concerned that Warrants of Electrical Fitness (WoEFs) are being issued by Electrical Inspectors for unsafe or non-compliant connectable installations. This article highlights some of the WoEF testing and inspecting (verification) requirements required for issue. I would encourage all personnel involved with the issue of WoEFs to be thoroughly familiar with the requirements of the relevant Standard.
For all Inspectors, I would also recommend that you check and test your knowledge against the requirements in the Boards Teaching Guidelines for Electrical Inspectors. This guideline is the foundation for the subject matter of the examination and practical application assessment, which forms the entrance level knowledge and skill requirements for Electrical Inspectors. The guidelines are available on our website.
Finally, take care, work safely, and thank you for taking the time to read the Electron.
If you have any comments or suggestions for future Electron editions, please let me know by emailing Registrations@ewrb.govt.nz.
Registrar of Electrical Workers
Standard of the Month
AS/NZS 3008.1.2:2017 Electrical installations-selection of cables
Featured Standard AS/NZS 3008.1.2:2017 Electrical installations-selection of cables is applicable to NZ installation conditions where the nominal air and soil temperatures are 30C and 15C respectively. This Standard sets out a method to determine the correct sized cable for a particular situation based on four main criteria: current carrying capacity, volt-drop, short-circuit temperature limit, and minimum size for economic optimization. To satisfy each of these areas there are several factors to consider which include maximum demand, installation method and environment, circuit length, prospective short circuit current, and type of cable.
This Standard contains detailed selection tables, with explanatory notes, and is one of the over 90 other Standards that are available for all licenced electrical workers to access from EWRB Online Portal.
Identification of underground wiring with Mag-slab
Identification of underground wiring with Mag-slab
Marker tape is typically used to provide early detection of underground cables while excavating, and polymeric cable covers such as Mag-slab can be used as mechanical protection for underground wiring systems within the requirements of AS/NZS 3000:2007.
Clause 188.8.131.52 of AS/NZS 3000:2007, Identification of underground wiring, appears to require “marker tape” to have mandatory compliance with AS/NZS 2648.1.
The issue is when an alternative polymeric cable protection is available and used for identification of wiring, specifically for a neutral-screened cable buried direct (Category A wiring system) and complies with AS/NZS 4702.
Energy Safety, a division of WorkSafe, has advised the following:
Our findings to see if polymeric cable protection covers (Mag-slab) meets the requirements of AS/NZS 2648.1, as required by AS/NZS 3000 Clause 184.108.40.206 for identification of underground wiring, are below.
The answer is no, Mag-slab is not tested to AS/NZS 2648.1, instead being tested to AS/NZS 4702.
We approached a manufacturer of Mag-slab and put the question to them. They carried out an assessment of their Mag-slab to Standard to AS/NZS 2648.1 with following findings:
- As far as lettering, colour and chemical resistance and the like, it will meet the requirements of AS/NZS 2648.1; and
- Where it doesn’t meet this Standard is in the stretch and rolling requirements as it has so much High Density Poly Ethylene (HDPE) to give it its high impact strength.
WorkSafe NZ considers it to be a suitable alternative and will be recommending to Standards Australia and NZ that AS/NZS 3000 should be amended to reflect this finding.
Safety article (electrical fitting safety warning)
The coming of winter is a timely reminder for both the public, and the electrical workers that provide services to them, to ensure electrical safety checks are carried out on all heating appliances.
WorkSafe has noted several recent fires involving older combination bathroom heating/lighting/fan units (manufactured before 2008) and advises users of these units to visually check them for signs of damage.
More information on this topic is available from this link
Electrical fitting safety warning(external link) — WorkSafe New Zealand
Installation of Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment
The increasing use of Electric Vehicles (EVs), and the demand for higher charging rates, is placing demands on existing installations, especially domestic installations.
Before installing an EV charger, it is important to check the charger’s specifications to ensure that the charger is designed to operate from NZ supplies of 230 or 400 volts.
When installing an EV charger (EVSE), especially where the charger requires more than 15 A, it is important for the installing Electrician to ensure that the incoming mains will not be overloaded. It is not acceptable for the loading of an installation to be controlled through the consumer making decisions to turn equipment on and off.
Equally, it is necessary to reassess both the maximum demand, and the maximum volt drop of the installation to ensure that electrical appliances are supplied with electricity within their safe operating voltage. Excessive volt drop may be a sign that the installation wiring will not tolerate a high load for prolonged periods. It may also result in appliance fires, or failures of Residual Current Devices (RCDs) to operate correctly, noting that many EV chargers contain safety function equipment such as RCDs.
In some cases, “smart” technology will be needed to moderate the charging rate of the charger, or for the supply mains to be upgraded.
It is recommended that any permanently connected EV charger is supplied through a dedicated subcircuit from the installation’s main switchboard that is rated for the anticipated load.
EV chargers are declared medium-risk articles requiring them to be covered by a supplier declaration of conformity (SDoC). It is good practice for installers to obtain a copy of the SDoC and attach this to their CoC for the installation.
Warrants of Electrical Fitness (WoEFs)
As a result of recent investigations relating to complaints received, the Board are concerned that Warrants of Electrical Fitness (WoEFs) are being issued for unsafe or non-compliant connectable installations. This indicates, whether through negligence or incompetence, the mandatory verification and testing has not been carried out to the required standard.
In general, connectable installations pose a greater risk of electric shock and fire to occupants, due to their confined nature, and/or use as sleeping accommodation.
With regards to connectable installations (such as caravans, motor homes, food vending vehicles, etc), a WoEF should only be issued if the installation has been tested and inspected in accordance with AS/NZS 3001:2008 – Appendix C, clauses C6 and C7.
Clause C6 – Inspection of connectable installations lists 13 areas that are required to be verified, including overcurrent protection, supply lead/plug, RCD requirements, appliance inlets, and protection against ingress of moisture.
Clause C7 – Testing of connectable Installations lists the satisfactory results and electrical tests that are required to be carried out, including polarity, insulation resistance, continuity of earthing conductors, and operation of RCD’s.
Once the connectable installation has been tested and inspected in accordance with clauses C6 and C7, the person issuing the WoEF must complete the WoEF form, give a copy to the person requesting the warrant, and attach the WoEF sticker in a prominent position on the connectable installation.
The issue of a WoEF for a pleasure vessel (boat) must be carried out in accordance with Standard, AS/NZS 3004.2:2008 Electrical Installations – Marinas and recreational boats, Part 2: Recreational boats installations.
AS/NZS 3004:2 Appendix C – Periodic testing details the WoEF verification requirements for a boat and includes a two-part verification check form. One section of Clause C10 details the following: verification by basic visual inspection. Another section of Clause C11 details: verification by testing (which sets out the required electrical tests and minimum satisfactory results).
For persons issuing warrants, it is important to note that the WoEF certification form in Appendix D of AS/NZS 3004:2 requires the completed Appendix C checklist form to be attached to the WoEF as part of the documentation to be supplied to the person requesting the warrant.
Further guidance on requirements for issuing WoEFs, and electrical safety for connectable installations, is available from the WorkSafe and Energy Safety website. See the following links:
Electrical and gas safety requirements for caravan, motorhome, and boating(external link) — Worksafe New Zealand
Transportable structures and vehicles, electrical safety verification(external link) — Worksafe New Zealand
Interview with Russell Keys (Deputy Presiding Member)
Russell Keys is an electrical contractor and business owner with over 30 years of experience in the industry. Outside of managing his 10 staff, he is also Deputy Presiding Member for the Electrical Workers Registration Board (EWRB). Russell has seen first-hand the advantages of having greater diversity in the workplace and is excited for the future with its growing inclusiveness.
What is your experience with employing and working with female electrical workers?
Since going out on my own I’ve had the pleasure of hiring two female apprentices – Lisa and Abby. Outside of this though and thinking back to times where I was more on the tools, I’m sad to say it was a rarity to have women on site. The number of female electrical workers is on the up though, and that’s great because it’s an industry fit for anyone.
What does having greater diversity bring to the workforce and sector?
What I’ve found is it brings a better dynamic and helps to balance out the team. This may be a generalisation, but us blokes can quite often look at problems through a similar lens and so by having a different set of eyes on hand it can lead to finding solutions more promptly or offer an alternative way of doing things.
What are some of the challenges female workers potentially face in the industry?
It would come as no surprise that women in our industry have to put up with crap, but I’m proud to say that from what I’ve seen they actually end up debunking those same individual’s prejudices by letting their actions do the talking. They truly are pioneers, and the hope is that in the not-too-distant future we see a more even landscape.
Interview with Abby Hammersley (Apprentice)
Abby Hammersley is a second-year electrical apprentice learning the ropes in the Wairarapa. Born and raised in Masterton, she takes pride in being able to service the community she grew up in as part of the team at McKenzie’s Electrical 2000. Abby was well aware of the challenges she could potentially face in deciding to take up the trade, but she isn’t one to back down in the face of adversity, and admits she’s already seen growth from her experience thus far.
How did you end up in the electrical industry?
Like a lot of people, I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I finished high school, but what I did know was that I didn’t want to go to university for the sake it. So, I decided to look at trade schools, and electrical was my favourite of the lot. My thinking was that I’d get something behind me without the fees and thankfully I was offered a job after my work experience.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The thing I’ve enjoyed the most so far is the variety. At McKenzie’s we work on commercial, industrial, and residential sites which means every time we get a job done, we’re likely rolling into something different.
What has been the most challenging part of the job?
The physical demands of my role can be tough at times, but one area that keeps pushing me, and I’ve really had to develop, is interacting with strangers. I didn’t realise how much communication there is on a building site and so initially I found it quite difficult being an introvert. Everybody I’ve worked with has been super friendly though and I’m proud to say I’m a lot better with it than I was when I started.
What do you think would make the electrical industry, or any trade, more attractive to women?
I’d like to see more promotion of females in the industry. I think a lot of girls are hesitant to take up a trade because they think it’s only for men, which isn’t the case, but even I thought it was somewhat true until I met others [women] on the job. I think by showing girls that they won’t be the only one, it will help convince those that are on the fence to give it a go.
What are your plans for after you become qualified?
I’d love to keep working for McKenzie’s for a few years to build on my experience and then I’d love to do some travelling. One of the perks of being a tradie is that there’s always going to be work wherever you go, so it’d be cool to go exploring while using my skills. The South Island is somewhere I wouldn’t mind checking out with the scenery they have down there.
The Board held a hearing in February this year to hear a complaint about Mr Wang who had been engaged to complete an electrical upgrade as part of a renovation. The work involved the installation and disconnection of electrical wiring and fittings in the house and the relocation of an aerial supply to the garage with an underground supply. Some six months later Mr Wang was called back to the property after a miniature circuit breaker (“MCB”) tripped after a heavy period of rain. The MCB was replaced. Another electrician inspected the property and found that the fault was due to an underground sub-main installed by the Respondent. It had not been installed to the correct depth (it was buried at no more than 100mm), high impact flexible conduit had not been used, there was no marker tape and connector strips within an underground conduit that had been used which resulted in an unreliable connection. In addition, and amongst other things, the termination/connection of neutral conductors had broken strands where they terminated on the load side of residual current devices (RCDs) and RCDs were configured in a manner where up to six final subcircuits are protected by a single RCD.
Cost was a motivating factor in how the prescribed electrical work was carried out. Essentially, corners were cut to make it a budget job. Whilst prescribed electrical work can be carried out in an economical manner, it must always meet the minimum required standards. Electrical workers can go further and do more than is required. They cannot do less. The consequences of doing less can be catastrophic. The minimum standards are designed to keep people and property safe. Doing less puts both in jeopardy and exposes electrical workers to disciplinary and financial risk. Put simply, cutting corners is never worth it.
A summary of recent decisions, including the above, follow and can be viewed on our website.
The electrical worker carried out PEW when not licensed. His license had been suspended as a result of a disciplinary order. The Electrical worker has not regained his licence but carried out PEW notwithstanding. In doing so, he faces disciplinary offences under sections 143(c) and 143(f) of the Act.
The Respondent was censured. A censure is a statement of disapproval of conduct. His age and circumstances were taken into consideration as were issues as regards his completion of a previous disciplinary order. His suspension from the previous disciplinary order continued.
Mr Wang committed disciplinary offences under sections 143(b)(ii), 143(a)(i) and 143(f) of the Act. The matters were serious, and the findings included that Mr Wang had created a risk of serious harm or significant property damage.
Mr Wang’s licence was suspended for nine months pending the hearing of the matter. He had voluntarily undertaken training and his competency following the training had been verified. He accepted the charges. The Board decided the suspension would be lifted and that he would be censured and ordered to pay costs of $500. If it was not for the suspension and training, the Board would have imposed a far more serious offence
EWRB v Dalwyn Stevens
On 11 February 2021, Dalwyn Stevens was sentenced on one charge of performing work on an electrical installation in a manner dangerous to life. Mr Stevens installed two outdoor socket outlets, modified an extension cable by removing one female plug end and attaching a second male plug end (creating a “suicide lead”) and connected up an underfloor thermostat. Mr Stevens had previously been registered as a trainee electrician but at the time of the offending was not a registered electrician.
Mr Stevens was sentenced in the Christchurch District Court to a fine of $3,750, along with Court and solicitor’s costs. Ninety percent of the fine was ordered to be paid to the Board.
EWRB v Boris Belmar
On 23 February 2022, Boris Belmar was sentenced in the Northshore District Court by Judge Maude after entering guilty pleas to one charge of performing unauthorised prescribed electrical work and one charge of issuing a Certificate of Compliance when he was not authorised to do so. Mr Belmar had installed the electrical fittings for a spa pool at an Auckland address using wires which had insufficient capacity for the load of the spa and therefore were at risk of catching fire. On finishing the installation, Mr Belmar completed a certificate of compliance for the work. The victims had hired Mr Belmar after he responded to their post on a community Facebook page that they were looking for an Electrician to do this work. Mr Belmar was not a registered Electrician; he had previously been issued a provisional licence, but this had lapsed in 2006.
The defendant was fined $1,750 for the unauthorised PEW charge and a further $500 for the unauthorised issuing of a certificate of compliance along with court costs on each charge.