Implications of the model WHS legislation post the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program

Gaye FrancisRisk Management Framework

The consequences of the WHS legislation on electrical safety is quite startling, but not yet realised.  The legislation requires that risks to health and safety should be eliminated, so far as is reasonably practicable.

For instance, a bane of electrical regulators is the home handyman working in a roof space and fiddling with the 240V conductors.  The deaths arising from the home insulation Royal Commission also spring to mind.

Many of us have been replacing our lights with energy efficient 12 V LEDs. And whilst it may be unreasonable to retrospectively replace the 240V wiring in the roof spaces with extra low voltage (ELV) conductors for existing structures, it is obviously quite achievable for a new dwelling.  If all the wiring is a 12 or 24 V, the possibility of being electrocuted in a roof space is pretty much eliminated, which is the whole point of the legislation.

So in the event of a death that would have been prevented with ELV wiring in a dwelling constructed after commencement of the model WHS act, the public prosecutor presumably has a duty to prosecute any officer of a PCBU (person conducting a business or undertaking) that facilitated the fatal 240V installation.  This would include officers of firms of builders, engineers, electricians, architects and building surveyors at the very least.