SGA Property Consultancy explains the regulatory requirements for electric installations following the adoption of the national harmonised WH&S legislation by various states and regions across Australia.

The harmonised WH&S legislation is now applicable in New South Wales, Queensland, Australian Capital Territory, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory. The harmonised WH&S regulations have not been approved in Victoria, which has chosen to retain their own regulation and application of AS/NZS3000.

Residual Current Device (RCD) requirements

Residual Current Devices (RCD) or safety switches help prevent electrocution or electrical fires caused by faulty equipment or physical contact with a live electrical equipment or wire, by cutting off the electrical current. Installation of RCDs by landlords and tenants is governed by certain national, state and territory legislation. However, all standards regulations and legislations define the requirement for regular testing and record keeping of the RCDs.

New or modified circuits

A Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) must protect new or modified circuits with a non-portable RCD consistent with AS/NZS 3000:2007. Both the landlord and tenant have an obligation to ensure all new refurbishments are provided with RCDs, either at the socket or on the switchboard.

Existing circuits

The PCBU must ensure that electrical risks are minimised by the use of an appropriate RCD in the following circumstances: Use of electrical equipment in a hostile environment (moisture, heat, vibration, mechanical damage, corrosive chemicals or dust); Electrical equipment is moved between different locations in circumstances where damage to the equipment or to a flexible electricity supply cord is reasonably likely; Electrical equipment is frequently moved during its normal use; Electrical equipment forms part of, or is used in connection with an amusement device.

Construction and demolition sites

The PCBU must comply with the RCD requirements described in AS/NZS 3012:2010 Electrical installations - Construction and demolition sites.

SGA Property Consultancy recommends that planned proactive upgrading be carried out to all power and light circuits equal to or less than 20A in accordance with current AS/NZS 3000 as a WH&S initiative for electrical safety.