Electrical safety laws set to change in Qld


Wednesday, 29 May, 2024

Electrical safety laws set to change in Qld

The Queensland Government has introduced the Electrical Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2024. This bill will implement the first tranche of recommendations from the independent review of Queensland’s Electrical Safety Act 2002 undertaken by Dick Williams. This follows extensive consultation with industry, registered unions, electricity entities, peak bodies and the community.

Williams’ review was undertaken in response to the notable changes that have occurred in the way Queenslanders use and interact with electricity, especially with the rise of renewable technologies.

The bill seeks to ensure Queensland’s electrical safety laws remain contemporary and will capture new and emerging technologies.

Specifically, the bill amends the Act’s key definitions of “electrical equipment” and “electrical installation”. This means it allows certain prescribed extra-low-voltage equipment to be captured in regulation as “electrical equipment” when the equipment is placing or may place people or property at an electrical risk.

New items that may be considered include e-scooter or e-bike batteries. Subject to further consultation, this will allow the Electrical Safety Regulator to respond to risks caused by these technologies in the community.

Additionally, the bill clarifies the definition of “electrical installation” to capture new and emerging energy generation and storage systems. This makes clear the licensing requirements for working on these systems and ensures compliance with the Wiring Rules.

A range of electrical safety recommendations to enhance operational efficiencies relating to the regulator, inspectorate and the Work Health and Safety Prosecutor have also been implemented.

The bill implements the following three recommendations from the recent independent Industrial Manslaughter Review:

  • Expansion of the industrial manslaughter scope to include bystanders who are killed as the result of negligent conduct.
  • Clarifying that multiple parties can be charged with industrial manslaughter, not just the direct employer.
  • Introduction of alternative verdicts for industrial manslaughter and other serious offences. This means the WHS Prosecutor can seek the highest penalties available in the knowledge defendants can still be found guilty of an alternative offence if the most serious offence is not proven beyond a reasonable doubt, rather than being acquitted.
     

It also provides enhancements to the Work Health and Safety Act, including:

  • adding negligence as a fault element to a Category 1 offence, which is where employers expose workers to a risk of death, serious injury or illness (currently, the only fault element is recklessness);
  • powers for health and safety representatives and entry permit holders to capture video and photos of suspected contraventions, take measurements and conduct tests at the workplace;
  • powers for the WHS Regulator to set minimum standards for registered training organisations who provide work health safety training.
     

“This bill delivers the most substantial improvement to electrical safety in two decades, and I want to thank Mr Williams for the decades of knowledge and experience he brought to leading the review,” said Minister for Industrial Relations Grace Grace.

“There are many new technologies and products on the market now that we could not have even imagined when the Electrical Safety Act was introduced in 2002,” Grace added.

“Today’s bill ensures that Queensland’s electrical safety framework is contemporary, captures new and emerging technologies, and will make our homes and workplaces safer.”

Image credit: iStock.com/zstockphotos

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