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Thread: New electrical installation regulations

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    New electrical installation regulations

    Enforcement
    25 June 2009

    New electrical installation regulations leave much to be desired, although they are clearer than their vague predecessors.

    The new regulations, effective from the beginning of last month, also apply to dwellings, even though they were published in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act No 85 of 1993 primarily for work place safety, which is administered by the Department of Labour.
    In assessing the regulations, bear in mind they are intended for consumer protection and will impact the use and transfer of dwellings and other buildings.

    Electrical contractors who do electrical installation work have to register annually with the Department of Labour in terms of Regulation 6. No installation work which requires a new supply may commence without first notifying the electricity supplier in a prescribed form in terms of Regulation 8, unless the supplier has waived this requirement. Regulation 8 also provides no new electrical installation may be connected to the electricity supply without a Certificate of Compliance.

    In terms of Regulation 2, the "user or lessor" of an electrical installation is responsible for the safety, safe use and maintenance of the electrical installation he or she uses. The user or lessor is normally the owner of the building, though the tenant may take on that responsibility in terms of a written agreement between the lessor and tenant in terms of Regulation 2(3).

    From May 2009 a Certificate of Compliance must be in a prescribed format, accompanied by a test report and issued by a person registered to do so by the Department of Labour. Every user of an electrical installation (except those installations that have not been changed since October 23 1992 and where there has been no change in ownership since March 1 1994) is obliged to have a valid Certificate of Compliance in terms of Regulation 7(1), and, in terms of regulation 7(2) must produce it on request to an authorised inspector or the supplier of electricity.

    If any changes are made to an electrical installation, a Certificate of Compliance must be obtained for the addition or alteration. If there was no certificate for an old installation, where there had been no change in ownership since March 1994, a Certificate of Compliance is required for the electrical installation once additions or alterations are effected. If electrical work is done by an electrical contractor, the contractor has to issue a Certificate of Compliance.

    In terms of Regulation 7(5) "the user or lessor may not allow change in ownership if the Certificate of Compliance is older than two years".
    What does this mean and how is this meant to be enforced? While the previous regulations did not have a similar provision, there was an urban legend you could not transfer a dwelling without a Certificate of Compliance. The provision of a Certificate of Compliance was often a condition in an agreement of sale of a dwelling, but was not compulsory. The old regulations did not provide that certificates were only valid for two years.

    Is limiting the validity to two years scientifically justifiable?

    In terms of Regulation 10, it is a criminal offence not to comply with several of the regulations' provisions, including regulation 7. An offender, if convicted, is liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a maximum of 12 months. It is unlikely the police or prosecuting authorities have the capacity to investigate or prosecute many such offences; they have more important fare on their plates.

    In effect, the new regulations comprise first world legislation which is out of touch with South African realities. How will it be enforced in hundreds of thousands of dwellings in former townships?

    By enacting these regulations with criminal sanctions, most of the dwellers in those townships will be contravening the regulations by not having Certificates of Compliance and will technically be guilty of criminal offences. This type of regulation reflects negatively on SA's rule of law.

    Rather, the regulations should provide that:

    The user of an electrical installation has a valid Certificate of Compliance;

    The seller of a building provides the purchaser with a Certificate of Compliance before registration of transfer of ownership is effected;

    The supplier of electricity may not connect a new user or change the user of an electricity supply without a copy of the Certificate of Compliance; and

    Periodic inspections be made at the request of the suppliers of electricity and, if the Certificate of Compliance is not in order, provision should be made for the electricity supply to be cut off if an acceptable certificate is not provided within a certain period.

    A more efficient system of enforcement should be devised, taking into account the realities of present conditions in SA.

    Bobby Bertrand is a director at Bowman Gilfillan, Cape Town.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QUINN View Post
    In terms of Regulation 7(5) "the user or lessor may not allow change in ownership if the Certificate of Compliance is older than two years".
    What does this mean and how is this meant to be enforced? While the previous regulations did not have a similar provision, there was an urban legend you could not transfer a dwelling without a Certificate of Compliance. The provision of a Certificate of Compliance was often a condition in an agreement of sale of a dwelling, but was not compulsory. The old regulations did not provide that certificates were only valid for two years.

    Is limiting the validity to two years scientifically justifiable?
    Well, Bobby Bertrand is wrong in one aspect - it wasn't an urban legend that you needed a Certificate of Compliance to transfer ownership, but the introduction of the two years validity clause is worthy of some careful consideration.

    Previously a Certificate of Compliance was valid as long as there was no change to the installation. My point on this was that changes to the installation could either be known (owner or user makes a change to the installation) or unknown (some component goes faulty or there is some other change to the conditions of the installation that could only be established by means of proper testing).

    I suggest that these possibilities remain, but the question of framing the validity of the electrical COC in terms of time has been regularly raised. Clearly this is an attempt to resolve that question and should probably be seen as some sort of compromise on the issue.

    My concern now is that the clause will be misinterpreted to suggest that a COC can be blindly relied on as valid for two years. The potential for changes as suggested above still exist, and I suggest should still be taken into account when considering accepting a COC for the purposes of transfer. And read carefully, the new regulation does not suggest otherwise. It merely frames an outer limit but does not preclude the potential need for a new COC earlier.

    To reinforce the point, our experience is that the greatest changes and biggest problems occur when someone has bought and sold again in short order, normally after effecting some renovations or changes to flip the property for a profit.

    Thus I still recommend play it safe - get a full test and new COC for each transfer. The cost of this is trivial compared to the potential consequences of failing to do so.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    it is all well having rules and regulations but until someone starts enforcing some type of punishment this whole COC is just an urban legend...i have not still to date found a COC which is valid...and i work in the industry everyday.

    i have done numerous investigation even have one where the AIA have been cleared the property as beinf safe...the customer is now in for R30 000.00 worth of repairs (this building which was completed only a year ago) and the customer is still the one who suffers...no matter how cr*p or illegal the workmanship is...3 other contractors have submitted quotes to verify the problems so we now have to get the deptment of labour to come to site to verify all the faults then they will issue an order to repair the installation which must be done within 30 days and paid for by the customer...who will then have to sue the contractor for their money back.

    people dont get caught you will pay for all the costs including the repairs and the lawyers fees if your COC is not valid...not the person whio issues the COC like everyone thinks...and if you win the case you will only then get your money back...this could take years to finalise...so my advice make sure the person who issues the COC fills it in correctly and carries out all the tests.

    i was asked during my last inspection why all the test equipment and why did it take me so long (on average 2-3 hours for a 3 bedroom house)...my answer was because this is the correct way to do the inspection...the customer told me the house he sold in JHB...was tested and handed over in 20 minuteswell done...i am glad i am not buying his house.

    and i will say this again if you are stupid enough to let the seller issue the COC without having it checked... then you must suffer the concequenses...your house will be one of the biggest investment you ever make yet you trust the seller to tell you the house is safe.

    it is just as bad as letting the electrician who carries out the work at your premises sign over the COC...you will only know if that COC is valid when you start having problems...at the rate contractors are closing down he will be long gone.

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    Platinum Member Marq's Avatar
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    get a full test and new COC for each transfer. The cost of this is trivial compared to the potential consequences of failing to do so.
    Spoken like a true blue electrical knight.

    What about us poor folk on the receiving side of the bills and the problems.

    My experience is that a COC is not worth the paper it is written on. Denial that any problems existed previously are common and of course the wiring was changed subsequently, as was that breaker and whatever else you are referring to that may be a problem now. Controlling bodies will not control, signatories do not exist or have left the industry. Legal options are a nightmare. I have had experience of this all in my short life. There is no ways that the buyer/seller knows whether the coc has been filled in correctly or what the numbers and story represents.

    The general belief is that the coc was and is designed to create work for the electrical industry at the expense of the purchaser or seller. Until properly installed, controlled and audited, this will continue to be the case. Changing the odd clause in the regulations is not going to do it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by murdock View Post
    it is all well having rules and regulations but until someone starts enforcing some type of punishment this whole COC is just an urban legend...i have not still to date found a COC which is valid...and i work in the industry everyday.
    ...and that in itself tells a story.

    I'll agree there are serious problems, but it's not so much the regulations - it's consistent interpretation of the code and proper enforcement that is notable by its absence.

    At this point I could embark on a long tale of my experience of "regulatory enforcement," which as a company we did take the trouble to document along the way. But let's try to cut what would be an exceptionally long post into something substantially more concise. This isn't so much out of pity for idle readers passing through because they'd probably derive some perverse pleasure from the litany, but there are some people who would be sitting with a healthy dose of egg on their faces at times. And I don't think embarrassing people is going to be particulrly constructive or encourage them to see a better regulatory environment put in place.

    So to cut to the chase:
    In theory the regulatory mechanism lies with the Department of Labour, but it seems clear the expertise isn't there to do the job.

    I suggest until there is someone technical in charge, employed by the Department, well versed in the regulations and code, who doesn't have a vested interest in who the parties are, and makes carefully considered calls and sets (and openly publishes) precedents that are consistent and based purely on technical merits, this situation is not going to be solved to everyone's satisfaction.

    It was and remains my hope that until that happy day this particular forum could be used to discuss technical issues of interpretation and help shed some light into the "grey" areas - hopefully without the political attempts at brinkmanship that seems to have bedevilled progress in other arenas that really should have already removed all these clouds ages ago.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    it is clear that the dept of labour doesnt have the skills to carry out investigations...but now the problem is they employ the services of the AIA who are suppose to make sure things are done correctly...unfortunatley this is not the case as we have found in a case in cape town...which unfortunatley i cannot go into detail about because the AIA are now under investigation...so who do you turn to

    we had a similiar discussion on another forum and one of the members suggested that instead of trying to prosecute we should rather educate.

    i would agree to a point that there are different interpretation of the code but lets get real here if there is no earth wire on a plug socket...or the earth of twin and is used as the live wire how much interpreting do you need.

    which brings me to the parts of the installation which are not covered by the code because they are plugged into a socket outlet....so now you buy a house and it has a COC which is legal...yipeeeee...when you read the small print of all the parts not covered by the COC which are plugged in this has now become the norm for electrician...i was called out to a house on saturday morning because the earth leakage was tripping...i asked the owner if it had a COC and he said yes the house was purchased 4 years ago...and the previous owner was an electrician...need i say more...anyway what they had done was because the outbuildings...garages...security lighting were all illegal they had put plug sockets in the roof of the main house then plugged extention plugs with all the new wiring plugged into the extention plugs

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by murdock View Post
    we had a similiar discussion on another forum and one of the members suggested that instead of trying to prosecute we should rather educate.
    Link please - and I kinda agree. It should be educate first, and save the stick for those willful b*stards that just won't learn (even if at times I'm probably considered one of those )
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Hi guy`s, I am looking for a program that helps with the study of "Installation Rules", can any body help?

    wavehydro

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    "Educate" to the effect that the "urban legend" actually had it's origin it Article 12 which clearly states that "where a safety standard exists for anything you may not trade, barter or to the full extent of the law give away for free such item/object. Lawyers turned the law into a myth by doing transfers without COCs' and the clause "as is" shares in the blame. Despite being "as is" an electrical installation (motor car) always did require a COC (roadworthy) in accordance with Article 12 as they do today.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marq View Post
    Spoken like a true blue electrical knight.

    What about us poor folk on the receiving side of the bills and the problems.

    My experience is that a COC is not worth the paper it is written on. Denial that any problems existed previously are common and of course the wiring was changed subsequently, as was that breaker and whatever else you are referring to that may be a problem now. Controlling bodies will not control, signatories do not exist or have left the industry. Legal options are a nightmare. I have had experience of this all in my short life. There is no ways that the buyer/seller knows whether the coc has been filled in correctly or what the numbers and story represents.

    The general belief is that the coc was and is designed to create work for the electrical industry at the expense of the purchaser or seller. Until properly installed, controlled and audited, this will continue to be the case. Changing the odd clause in the regulations is not going to do it.
    As has been said over and again on this site. If you are not prepared to pay for your own electrician to check when you buy a house how can you expect the guy selling it to go out and "waste" money on the house he has sold. If he can get one for a bottle of wine... drink & be merry! The house is not his anymore. Transferring attorneys can rectify this but are more interested in chasing the buck. Sad but true.

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