Four concerns about safe construction wiring
Regular audits of construction projects by WorkSafe Queensland have revealed four key areas for concern in regards to wiring compliance.
Construction wiring is temporary electrical installations that supply power to construction sites. They are normally removed at the completion of the work, should not form part of the permanent electrical installation and need to be clearly marked.
WorkSafe Queensland stated that electrical workers must ensure construction wiring complies with the Wiring Rules, AS/NZS 3000 and AS/NZS 3012 ‘Electrical Installations – Construction and Demolition sites’. Its main concerns around construction wiring compliance are as follows:
Electrical workers installing non-compliant construction wiring
Electrical workers installing construction wiring must ensure the installation is compliant to the Wiring Rules and the additional requirements of AS/NZS 3012. All construction wiring, including switchboards, fixed RCDs, emergency evacuation lighting and transportable structures, must be inspected and tested in accordance with the Wiring Rules following installation.
Principal contractors or PCBUs failing to maintain the construction wiring installation
Inspectors have identified construction wiring installations that have not been maintained or have been damaged during construction activities. The principal contractor on a construction site must ensure the construction wiring installed on site remains compliant with AS/NZS 3012 for the duration of the project.
As a minimum, the principal contractor must ensure construction wiring (including switchboards) is visually inspected every six months to verify the integrity of the installation. Where the visual inspection identifies damage or non-compliance to the standard, that part of the installation must be isolated, repaired or replaced, and tested as required.
Failure to conduct risk assessments prior to installing construction wiring
Inspectors have also identified installations that do not have adequate mechanical protection, particularly on temporary fences and transportable structures.
Electrical workers should conduct a risk assessment before installing construction wiring to consider the likelihood of the cables being subject to mechanical damage during any construction activities. If there is a risk of damage, the electrical worker must consider either relocating the cables or installing additional mechanical protection.
Non-compliant switchboards are being installed in construction wiring installations
Switchboards that have been built by electrical contractors or PCBUs have been found which do not meet the requirements of AS/NZS 3012, which outlines the specific requirements for switchboards installed as part of the construction wiring installation.
These include protection from mechanical damage, suitability for the environmental conditions and provisions for the retention of extension leads. WorkSafe said it is particularly concerned about the methods used to install cables into these switchboards, as they must be effectively secured in place to prevent mechanical damage.
All workers on construction sites should be aware of the location of construction wiring and ensure the work being undertaken does not damage the installation. Any damage should be reported to the site supervisor immediately.
According to WorkSafe Queensland, inspectors will continue to audit construction wiring installations and take enforcement action if non-compliance is identified.
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