Issue 151 September - October 2022

Please note: The issue content below is just a summary of the articles in the printed magazine.
The articles are not available on-line. Please refer to the printed magazine for the complete article.
Plant an apprentice and grow your business

When there is plenty of work on and electricians are in short supply, taking on an apprentice can not only meet a short-term need, it can also help grow the business.

Steve Gray says employers can build a more effective team by training apprentices but taking the first step may be risky.

As an area manager for the Apprenticeship Training Trust (ATT) Gray says electrical contractors and other employers no longer have to worry about those risks when they take on their apprentices through ATT.

“I have seen how even the smallest business like a one-man-band can set his business on a solid growth path by getting the right apprentice through ATT and having ATT manage the apprentice from day one to completion.”

He says taking on an apprentice has never been easier or more rewarding.

“Because ATT employs the apprentice, ATT takes care of all the employment and training issues while setting each apprentice on a path to become a full-time employee of the contractor when the apprenticeship is completed.

“This way each apprentice becomes a team member for the contractor from the first day while ATT provides the right level of oversight, mentoring and coaching to allow the employer to focus on the business.”

Employer held responsible for worker’s transposition

One of the most consequential safety risks managed by the Electricity (Safety) Regulations is the transposition of conductors and the failure to ensure correct polarity.

Disciplinary hearings conducted by the EWRB involving transpositions have resulted in $1500 fines being imposed on the electricians responsible.

The EWRB knows that under electrical law, the electricians that the Board licenses are fully responsible for the safety of their work but, when it comes to taking legal action under HSWA, WorkSafe disagrees.

In 2020 WorkSafe secured a guilty plea to a prosecution against an electrical contractor where the contractor was held liable for a transposition made by one of its employed electricians. WorkSafe did not prosecute the electrician, nor did it lodge a complaint against the electrician to the EWRB.

Instead WorkSafe went after the most plausibly culpable business unit (PCBU) and sought an initial fine of $500,000 from the electrician’s employer, then lowered that to $200,000 following a guilty plea bargain. After hearing submissions from the prosecutor and defendant, the judge fined Thor Electrical and Maintenance Services Ltd a total of $77,350.

How a smarter CoC could provide a HSWA defence

WorkSafe has shown that it will go to considerable lengths to achieve successful prosecutions of electrical contractors by selectively applying parts of electrical law to validate a case of wrongdoing under health and safety law.

A problem arises when WorkSafe focuses on parts of the law that are designed to ensure the safety of an installation when it is completed and in use, and not on the parts that are designed to ensure safe work practices during the installation’s construction.

This can cause judges to incorrectly assign culpability for actions and inactions in relation to regulated procedures that are designed for technical safety, not worker safety, and leave defence lawyers struggling to counter WorkSafe’s description of the law.

Central to this is the failure of WorkSafe to fully accept the role of electrical licensing and how electrical law puts licensed electricians in a dominant role in ensuring their safety at work under Regulation 100 and casts their employers in a support role to that under Regulation 101.

Bulletproof mains polarity checking

In July, WorkSafe Energy Safety published a safety alert on two “serious incidents resulting from the use of live polarity testing”. Electrical inspector, Athol Gibson comments.

Both the incidents referred to by WorkSafe involved the incorrect polarity of mains when livening and the potential for serious harm to occur as a result.

To better understand how to connect and liven mains to ensure the right result, there are two situations we should look at.

Firstly, there is the task of the installation electrician completing the installation wiring and conducting the necessary regulatory tests from the installation end.

Secondly, before livening, there is the task of the livening agent completing their regulatory tests to comply with the Electricity (Safety) Regulations 73A at the supply end.

Some common pitfalls of machine safety

Workplace safety is a must for industry. Not only is it unacceptable to have unmanaged safety risks at work, it’s also against the law, with heavy fines and penalties imposed on those that do not comply or who knowingly breach safety standards.

Under health and safety law (HSWA), the onus is on the PCBU (employer) to provide a safe working environment for all their staff, and this includes having machinery that is safe. But while the need for a safe workplace is a given, what’s not so clear is how to make it safe. Many people are still uncertain about what exactly constitutes safety in a machine. More worrying still is the prevalence of misinformation, which is misleading and adds to the confusion.

Maintenance factor, what is it and why should you care?

As the light output of an installation diminishes over time, how do we ensure light levels remain above the minimum required over the life of the luminaires to ensure the installation is always fit for purpose? Lighting designer, Roger Golding, investigates.

Ensuring sufficient light at the end of an installation’s life depends a lot on design and luminaire selection at the beginning. The way we work this out is by calculating what designers call the maintenance factor. This is a set of calculations performed when creating a lighting design based on a mixture of luminaire constraints and environmental conditions.

In a nutshell, it is calculating what the light output levels will be from a luminaire within a space, at a given point in time. It can commonly be seen in the luminaire schedule on a design as the light loss factor (LLF) field. A lighting design should be modelling calculations for a required timeframe to give a snapshot of the light levels at that point (generally the end of the project lifespan).

When the luminaires are turned on for the first time, they will be at 100 percent of their performance, which will be above the calculated values of the design. If a designer has aimed for 320 lux for an office installation, then you will be getting a percentage above that target. For example, if the design is for a 10-year lifespan, then the 320-lux target should be what the lighting is performing at in 10 years’ time. Therefore, on initial start-up you could be reading 400 lux and the level shouldn’t drop below 320 lux until after year 10.

Maintenance factor in practice

A more technical analysis of maintenance factor, while not exactly a riveting subject, is a key component of effective lighting. Even if we do not apply the correct methodology or complete the actual calculations, it is important to understand the wherefore, so we comprehend the role it plays in making decisions about selecting the luminaires for our lighting installations.

When we take the concepts laid out in maintenance factor calculations, whether you are an electrical contractor, choosing a fit-for-purpose luminaire, a wholesaler, making a recommendation of a luminaire, or a designer or engineer selecting luminaires for a project, the questions raised by the application of maintenance factor should give you a much more holistic viewpoint of why a luminaire will or will not fit a certain installation.

There is an AS/NZS standard dedicated solely to interior maintenance of electric lighting systems (AS/NZS 1680.4), as well as multiple other references throughout other standards. This by itself should provide an insight to the importance of the subject. Luckily AS/NZS1680.4 is under 30 pages long, so if you get inspired to go back to the source material after reading this article, it won’t be too detrimental to your health.

Applying the standard will also be far from detrimental to the health and safety of your clients because this standard shows you how to provide a visual environment necessary for the safe and efficient performance of tasks associated with industrial activities and processes.