Changes to the Electrical Safety Act 2002 and Electrical Safety Regulation 2002 came into effect on 1 January 2014.
New codes of practice commenced on 1 January 2014.
Read the explanatory notes for the new Electrical Safety Regulation 2013.
The amended Electrical Safety Act 2002 (ES Act)
On 1 January 2014 an amended Electrical Safety Act 2002 came into effect.
The amendments do not significantly change requirements for electrical safety in Queensland. In addition, any ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ will already be familiar with many of the changes that have been in use since the WHS Act commenced on 1 January 2012.
The amended ES Act will adopt terms and concepts from the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 .
A summary of key changes include:
- the term ‘duty’ replaces ‘obligation’.
- duties are subject to ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’ (by reference to the meaning of ‘electrically safe’ and ‘free from electrical risk’). This is consistent with the concept of as low as is reasonable achievable.
- a new proactive duty on executive officers consistent with the duty imposed under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
- new meaning of ‘worker’ and ‘other person’ – Workers include employees, contractors or subcontractor, employees of a contractor or subcontractor, employees of labour hire companies assigned to work in the person’s business or undertaking, outworkers, apprentices or trainees, work experience students and volunteers.
- electrical safety enforceable undertakings requirements consistent with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
- inspectors have similar powers of entry, seizure and investigation for the purposes of ensuring compliance with electrical safety legislation.
- a new range of sentencing options for the courts, including adverse publicity orders, restoration orders, electrical safety projects, injunctions and training orders.
- a new statutory notice, non-disturbance notice will be available to allow inspectors to secure an incident scene.
- persons seeking an external review of a decision can now apply to Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) rather than the industrial court.
Electrical Safety Regulation 2013
The new also commences on 1 January 2014 and replaces the Electrical Safety Regulation 2002.
- New provisions that reference the general risk management provisions of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.
- Key terms such as duty, person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) and the regulator are used.
- renumbering of sections and parts for the Regulation.
- Adoption of the model WHS Regulation provisions for live work but requirements are consistent with the 2002 regulation.
- Risk assessments are still required before performing live work.
- Work must be carried out in accordance with a safe work method statement (SWMS) instead of a safe system. Transitional provisions will preserve existing documented safe systems of work and are taken to be the SWMS from 1 January 2014.
- Safety observers must be assessed as competent for rescue and resuscitation procedures during the previous one year* (changing from six months in the 2002 Regulation).
* Please refer to the safety observer sections below for more information.
- The requirement for rescue and resuscitation for workers who perform or assist in performing electrical work remains unchanged.
- A new requirement for PCBUs to ensure electrical equipment is de-energised before electrical work is carried out and making sure that it cannot be inadvertently re-energised.
- High voltage live line work is unchanged, except high voltage live line work management plans which now refer to Australian Standards (replacing the withdrawn Energy Networks Association (ENA) guidelines).
- Requirements for testing and maintenance of test instruments and safety equipment continue to apply to ensure this equipment provides the levels of protection required. These requirements are now addressed in Part 9 of the new Managing electrical risks in the workplace code of practice (with reference to manufacturer’s instructions).
Safety observer – Refresher periods for live work
- The ES Regulation 2013 requires that a safety observer for energised electrical work is assessed as competent within the previous one year (the 2002 Regulation requires assessment within the previous six months).
For example, if a person undertakes refresher training on 10 February 2014 – they can act as a safety observer until 9 February 2015 without further assessment of their competence (reassessment is required after that date)
Safety observer – Expiry dates on existing or new statements/certificates
- If the person is issued with a statement or certificate stating that the period of competence is for only 6 months, the 12 month assessment period is valid from the time of re-assessment.
For example, if a person is assessed as competent on 20 December 2013 and is issued with a statement or certificate stating an ‘expiry’ date of 20 June 2014 – they are still not required to undertake further assessment until 19 December 2014.
It is important to note that there is no change to the roles and responsibilities of a safety observer or to the knowledge and skills required to fulfil the role. There is also no change to the type of training that a person should undertake to gain or maintain the required level of competence. The only change is that a person now only needs to have their competence to act as a safety observer assessed in the previous one year, rather than six months.
- No significant changes, but some provisions have changed to remove duplication.
Overhead and underground electric lines
- Adoption of the model WHS Regulation provisions that require a PCBU at a workplace to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable that no person, plant or thing at the workplace comes within an unsafe distance from overhead and underground electric lines.
- Where a safe distance cannot be maintained the PCBU must conduct a risk assessment and implement control measures consistent with the risk assessment and consult with entities and their requirements if any.
- Exclusion zones distances remain unchanged and existing concepts and requirements for untrained, instructed and authorised persons are retained.
- Managing risk around exposed energised electrical parts is to be managed through application of risk management principles and the relevant code of practice.
- No change to existing requirements for testing and tagging and safety switches.
- A new duty on a PCBU to ensure that unsafe electrical equipment at a workplace is either permanently removed from use or not used until it is repaired and made safe.
Incident notification and reporting
- No changes to what needs to be reported (serious electrical incident and dangerous electrical event).
- Incident notification provisions will adopt the WHS Regulation reporting requirements i.e. notification immediately after becoming aware of the incident.
- No change to notification requirements for distribution entities.
- Requirements to ensure an incident scene is not interfered with remains, wording will change to match WHS Regulation.
Other parts of the 2002 regulation remain unchanged except for minor terminology or drafting changes
- In-scope electrical equipment
- Electrical equipment – general
- Works of an electricity entity
- Electrical supply
- Safety management systems
- Accredited auditors
- Cathodic protection systems
- Miscellaneous provisions
A number of provisions are inserted to smooth the transition to the new 2013 Regulation, for example:
- Cathodic protection systems registered under the 2002 Regulation continues for the period of its registration under the 2013 regulation
- existing documented safe system of work for live work is taken to be the SWMS as required by the revised provisions.
Electrical safety codes of practice
A code of practice provides practical guidance for people who have electrical safety duties about how to achieve the standards required under the Act and about effective ways to identify and manage electrical safety risks.
A code of practice applies to anyone who has a duty of care in the circumstances described in the code. In most cases, following a code of practice would achieve compliance with the electrical safety duties in the Act, in relation to the subject matter of the code. Like regulations, codes of practice deal with particular issues and do not cover all hazards or risks that may arise. Electrical safety duties require duty holders to consider all electrical safety risks associated with work, not only those for which regulations and codes of practice exist.
Codes of practice are admissible in court proceedings under the Act and Regulations. Courts may regard a code of practice as evidence of what is known about a hazard, risk or control and may rely on the code in determining what is reasonably practicable in the circumstances to which the code relates.
From 1 January 2014, the following electrical safety codes of practice apply in Queensland:
- Managing electrical risks in the workplace (this code replaces the Electrical Safety Code of Practice 2010 – Electrical work and is based on the national model approved code of practice
- Electrical equipment rural industry
- Working near overhead and underground electric lines (renamed from Working Near Exposed Live Parts).
In addition, from 1 January 2014 the Electrical Safety Code of Practice 2010 – Risk management was repealed. Instead duty holders should refer to the How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks Code of Practice 2011. This code will be repealed as section 11 of the Electrical Safety Regulation 2013 (the Regulation) requires duty holders to manage risks in accordance with the general risk management principles of Part 3.1 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.
For further information visit Queensland Government ELectrical Safey Wesite:
Should you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact any of the Jamestech staff on:
Main Telephone: 1300 732881 (freecall within Australia)
Brisbane Office: +61-7-55493471
Townsville Office: +61-7-47267709
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