An electrician is a professional who specializes in the electrical wiring for homes, businesses, and equipment.
Electricians generally focus on installation of new electrical works and maintenance and repair of existing electrical setups. A specialised electrician can also work in mobile network and cable platforms as well as the wiring of aircraft and ships.
This is the repair or replacement of electric and electronic equipment when it breaks, by a maintenance electrician. Items commonly replaced during maintenance include fuses, wires, switches and circuit breakers.
Maintenance electricians also from time to time inspect all equipment under their care to ensure that it is at operating at its optimum.
During maintenance, an electrician must be careful to avoid electrical accidents. Such accidents may occur when the risks of the work have not been properly assessed. It may also be as a result of the workers not being adequately trained to handle the task at hand.
For an electrician to reduce the risk involved he/she must work closely with the person responsible for maintaining electrical risks in the premises. They are guided by the WHS Act and the WHS regulations.
What are electrical risks?
An electrical risk is the probability of death, electric shock or other injury caused directly or indirectly by electricity and that may be avoided through pre-emptive action.
WHS Code of Practise
The details of managing electrical risks are defined by a Code of Practice which is an approved code of practice residing in section 274 of the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act.
An approved code of practice gives direction on how to comply with the standards of health, safety, and welfare defined in the WHS laws and regulations. It does not seek to replace the WHS laws but makes understanding such rules easier.
Anyone who has a 'duty of care' as described in the code is liable.
As spelled out in the WHS Act a business owner is tasked with ensuring that workers and other persons at the workplace are not exposed to electrical risks arising from the business.
The people with a 'duty of care' include:
- persons conducting a business or undertaking
- people responsible for management or control of electrical equipment and electrical installations
- people undertaking electrical work on or close to energised electrical equipment, including electrical installations.
For one to operate as an electrician, you must obtain an electrician's licence that entitles you to work on electrical installation and maintenance work without supervision.
Electrical work is strictly regulated and must only be performed by a licenced electrician or electrical contractor. Unfortunately, there is not one single licencing body as requirements vary throughout the different States of Australia.
Frequently, a certificate of electrical safety must be presented to the regulatory body after the completion of electrical works.
The high risk of accidents involved in this trade means testing of safety equipment needs to be done regularly as per the regulations of different states.
All electricians are also required to follow State and local building codes as well as the National Electrical Code as they perform their work.
Some of the Australian standards that can aid electricians in satisfying the obligations of their licence include:
- AS/NZS 4836:2011 Safe working on low-voltage electrical installations and equipment
- AS/NZS 3000:2007 Electrical installations (the Wiring Rules)
- AS/NZS 3012:2010 Electrical Installations – Construction and demolition sites
- AS/NZS 3760:2010 In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment
- AS/NZS 3017:2007 Electrical installations – Verification guidelines
Though many foreign workers may be highly skilled in the trade, there often exist different requirements to work in Australia presenting a skills gap.
Such workers initially use a provisional licence and must be supervised. They are required to undertake gap training in order to obtain this licence for a regulated time frame, usually one year.
After completing the training and supervised employment, one can apply for an Australian qualification for the trade. This is then followed by the application for a full electrician's licence.