Understand and avoid electrical hazards in roof spaces

WorkSafe and Building and Energy are reminding homeowners of the importance of understanding and avoiding electrical hazards in roof spaces, as new regulations commence last Monday.

“Homeowners may need to access the roof space of the family home, but there are some basic safeguards that need to be in place to do this safely,” said Director of Energy Safety, Ken Bowron.

“First and foremost, it is strongly recommended the electricity main switch in the home’s main switchboard be switched off before the roof space is accessed.

“There may be wiring in the roof space with damaged insulation or exposed live parts, posing a clear risk of electric shock and possible electrocution.”

Mr. Bowron recommended buying battery-powered LED headlamps to provide good lighting to those who need to enter their roof space.

“While moving around in roof spaces, good lighting is essential to avoid stepping on electrical cables or inadvertently kicking plastic junction boxes or the tops of light fittings that enclose cable terminations.”

Changes to the regulation require the main switch to be switched off prior to work for reward undertaken in ceiling spaces of domestic- type dwellings. Tradespeople will be required by law to switch the main switch off before entering the ceiling space. While the ban does not apply to homeowners, they are urged to do so too.

“Homeowners need to be aware that workers will generally need to switch off the electricity so they can comply with the new safety standards while carrying out the required work,” said Mr. Bowron.

“I’m sure homeowners would agree that the safety of workers is paramount and that it would be preferable to have the minor inconvenience of no lights and power than to risk a serious injury or possible damage to their electrical equipment.”

Mr. Bowron also warned that DIY electrical is illegal and that a licensed electrical contractor must be engaged to carry out any new wiring or repair work.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Ian Munns said homeowners should remember that a home’s roof space would effectively become a workplace when a tradesperson entered it.

“It’s really important for homeowners to understand that the safety of workers in the roof space must be maintained, and that means that in the majority of circumstances the electricity must be switched off while the work is being done,” said Mr. Munns.

“This will apply to any domestic-type building and service trade such as electrical, gas, pest control workers, and installers of air conditioning, insulation, security systems and antennas.

“Any worker who agrees to leave the main electricity on while he or she is working in the roof space will not only be putting their safety and health and possibly their job at risk but will also be breaking the law.”

More information is available on the Building and Energy website or the WorkSafe website.

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