Code of Practice for Persons working on or near energised electrical installations

Code of Practice

Building and Energy has developed this Code of Practice for Persons working on or near energised electrical installations.

Code of Practice for Persons working on or near energised electrical installations.

Information on the Code

Code of Practice for Persons working on or near energised electrical installations

NOTE: This new Code of Practice replaces the document “Code of Practice - Safe Low Voltage Work Practices by Electricians” published by the Director of Energy Safety in 2008.

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about the Code of Practice for Persons working on or near energised electrical installations.

When do the new live work regulations and code of practice come into force?

14 May 2018.

What does ‘near’ mean?

The term does not refer to any specific distance. If a live part can be reached by a person’s hand or by anything in contact with a person working in the area, or a conducting object could be dropped on to a live part, that person is ‘near’.

Who is responsible at a worksite to make sure the new live work regulations are followed?

The responsibility is collective: the electrician(s) doing the work, the employing electrical contractor and the person controlling the workplace or access to it have a shared responsibility.

What if a customer demands the electrical work be carried out while the installation remains energised?

You must refuse to carry out the work unless it can be shown to meet the live work criteria set out in Regulation 55(3) of the Electricity (Licensing) Regulations 1991.

Justifications for proceeding with live work are:

  • for the work to be carried out effectively;
  • the health and safety of one or more persons would be otherwise be put in imminent and significant danger; or
  • in order to test, measure the performance of, or detect or locate faults or defects in, the part of the installation.

AND

  • the risks can be reduced to as low as reasonably practicable; and
  • the work can be carried out safely.

Can my boss direct me to perform live work?

No. Live work is permissible if a Safe Work Method Statement has been completed, a risk assessment has been carried out, the risks can be reduced to as low as reasonably practicable, you understand how the work is to proceed and you agree it can be done safely. If you don’t feel competent to do the work, don’t do it.

Are costs and inconvenience for an electrical installation’s owner justifications for proceeding with live work?

No. Live work is permitted only if the justifications set out in Regulation 55 are followed to the letter. De-energised work is cheaper and easier for the electrical contractor, helping to hold costs down.

What’s a roof space?

A roof space is immediately under the roof. If there is a ceiling, it is the space between it and the roof but does not include any habitable rooms in this space.

Even though I am an electrician, do I have to turn off the main switch before entering the roof space of a residential house?

Yes, and lock and tag it too. You can use battery-powered lights and tools and complete your testing and verification at the main switchboard.

What does ‘competent person’ mean?

When used in this Code the term has the same meaning as appears in Regulation 1.3 of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996:

“competent person, in relation to the doing of anything, means a person who has acquired through training, qualification or experience, or a combination of those things, the knowledge and skills required to do that thing competently.”

How do I prepare a Safe Work Method Statement?

A Safe Work Method Statement must comply with Regulation 3.143 of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations and Section 5.4 of the Code of Practice sets out the requirements too and includes an example in Appendix A. Electrical contractors must keep a copy for two years.

Can I use the same Safe Work Method Statement for electrical work as I use for WorkSafe compliance?

Yes, provided it does comply with WorkSafe regulations and is modified appropriately to cover the electrical work involved.

Is a Job Risk Assessment the same as a Safe Work Method Statement?

No. A Job Risk Assessment identifies and lists the hazards and risks associated with a work task. A Safe Work Method Statement defines how the identified risks will be managed so that the work can be carried out safely.

Can I prepare both a Job Risk Assessment and a Safe Work Method Statement?

Yes, if you are judged to be competent by the person controlling the workplace and you are familiar and experienced with the work tasks involved.

Can I develop a generic Job Risk Assessment and Safe Work Method Statement suitable for the sorts of work I typically do?

Yes. Typical job risks and safe work methods will be included in most Job Risk Assessment and Safe Work Method Statements but these documents should be copied and the copy amended to cover the specific job site and work tasks concerned. The copy must be retained as a record for two years. You must never work on or near any part of installations energised at more than 1,000 V. The new regulations apply to low voltage work only.

What about tools, instruments and personal protective equipment (PPE) for live work?

All tools, measurement instruments and items of personal protective equipment must be checked, verified as sound and tagged before every episode of live work. When in doubt don’t use it – replace it.

When do I need a safety observer?

Safety observers, competent to perform the work in hand, must be present unless the risk assessment confirms the work task poses no serious risks.

What if I can’t finish the live work task before knock-off time?

You must leave the unfinished work in a safe condition by terminating, shrouding and securing conductors and other live parts. Leave barriers, warning signs, locks and tags in place. Make sure the incoming shift understands the work is not finished.

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