Safety alert issued over unlicensed electrical testing
Building and Energy has warned WA manufacturers that testing electrical equipment above a certain voltage must only be performed by licensed electricians to ensure it is safe to use. Westbury Holdings Pty Ltd, trading as Air Group Australia and CoolBreeze Air Conditioning, was fined $15,000 after pleading guilty to breaching WA’s Electricity (Licensing) Regulations 1991 by allowing unqualified assembly line staff to carry out electrical equipment tests. Westbury Holdings manufactures evaporative air-conditioning units at its Welshpool headquarters. The units are sold to wholesalers, air-conditioner installers and electrical contractors for installation.
During a site visit, Building and Energy electrical inspectors observed the company’s assembly line processes for the Heritage Maxima air conditioner. The inspectors noted that testing procedures involved staff plugging the units into the 240 V mains power supply to undertake tests to confirm the electronic components were working correctly. Under the regulations, testing of electrical equipment above 50 V AC or 120 V DC is considered electrical work that can only be carried out by a licensed electrical worker. None of the Westbury Holdings staff who tested the units held this licence.
During the sentencing, Magistrate Matthew Walton ordered the company to pay $537.50 in costs, noting the inherent dangers associated with electricity and the risks presented by the company’s longstanding electrical testing procedures, which the company had since changed. Building and Energy’s Director of Electrical, Gas and Plumbing Compliance, Matthew Peacock, said the laws are in place for everyone’s safety, and urged all manufacturers of electrical equipment to check that their processes comply with the regulations. Manufacturers are encouraged to seek guidance from Building and Energy if needed.
“If the electrical equipment hasn’t been tested by an appropriately qualified person, undetected faults may exist that could put end users at serious risk of electric shock or fire. Testing of electrical equipment in a live state by unlicensed personnel is also dangerous for the staff involved, particularly when it is a recurring practice in an assembly line setting,” said Peacock.
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