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Thread: Earthing and the CoC

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    Earthing and the CoC

    An electrician installed a number of light fittings on top of fibreglass (non-conducting) poles and issued a CoC for the job. One of the fitting’s ballast failed, shorting to earth, but the earth core did not make contact in the junction box below, as the insulation had not been stripped off the earth core, so the breaker did not trip, it just left the housing alive.
    The person sent to investigate why the light was not working climbed up a metal ladder, grabbed hold of the fitting and received a shock. Luckily, his assistant switched off the power and he sustained no more than a few small burns on his hand and some sore muscles.
    Wasn’t the electrician who issued the CoC supposed to have tested each and every light fitting for earth continuity? If he wasn’t required to do this, why not? If he was required to and did not, yet issued the CoC, can he be held liable?

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    firstly the idiot who was working on a steel ladder while the installtion was live should be investigated.

    the rest of the story sounds a bit suspect to me and before i make anymore comments would need to do a full investigation.

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    Diamond Member Justloadit's Avatar
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    Hi Murdock,

    Some one replacing the light is not expected to be an electrician, and probably would not even know which circuit breaker to switch off.

    The action of replacing a light bulb has nothing to do with the shoddy workmanship, and under normal circumstances does not require one to switch all the power to the building off. Whilst it is good practice to do this, it is not a requirement if you simply going to remove and replace the globe.

    To me a case of negligence should be opened up with premeditated murder as part of the investigation, since he planned to not have tested the installation because he was probably in a hurry to go somewhere else.

    I just get very pissed off when I see people shrugging off their responsibilities - just erks me
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WallyL View Post
    If he was required to and did not, yet issued the CoC, can he be held liable?
    I couldn't comment on the extent of liability, and there could be issues around proof of negligence or defective workmanship. But with adequate evidence in place, the short answer is Yes.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Essentially the regualtions state that all metal parts must be earthed. The earth terminal inside the light fitting should have been connected to the junction box at the bottom of the pole (point of supply). See reg 3.14.1 of sans10142 the wiring of premises.

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    Diamond Member AndyD's Avatar
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    The light fittings should have been earthed as pointed out already and with the fittings being mounted on a pole of insulated construction the earth is even more important.

    Proving liability is the stumbling block. You would need to prove that the installer was the last person to work on the fittings. From a civil claim point of view if there were no significant injuries or damage to the person can you still claim compensation?

    It's a sad state of affairs but realistically the best you can probably do is take some pictures and lodge a complaint with the local electrical inspector unless you want to stand on principal and money is no object.
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    i withdraw my statement as i do not know the circumstances of this installation and therefore cannot comment...

    a question...what about the metal reflector in a bulkhead or any light fitting for that matter...which is metal? as mentioned anyone can replace a lamp...what if a live wire melts and makes contact with the reflector?

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    ...assuming the light is totally enclosed in non-conductive material... just to make it really interesting.

    Here's a thought relating to extent of liability:

    Replacing a light bulb typically comes with a fair number of hazards, including working at height, working with an object containing glass and more often than not, an object containing sharp edges.

    Working on a live fitting just adds a few avoidable hazards.

    I still think a responsible person is accountable if found to have failed to install to code, but as any sparky will tell you - when it comes to working on an electrical installation the only assumption you should make is everything's live.
    Last edited by Dave A; 19-Jan-11 at 07:49 AM.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Diamond Member Justloadit's Avatar
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    I feel that any tradesman should have a responsibility towards his clients. Ensure that what ever task you take on, is as safe as it should be no short cuts, even if you have under quoted.

    It just goes down with human decency, respecting your fellow human being. If we all adopted this basic human decency the world would have fewer problems.
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    Regarding the reflector in a bulkhead fitting, it is considered a conductive part. IE any part that is capable of conducting electric current.
    If a wire melts and comes into contact with a metal part and providing the light fitting is properly earthed the circuit breaker and/or earth leakage will trip.
    It can become confusing as we talk about a light fitting being out of arms reach which does not require earthing, however, in this case the light fitting is exposed to the weather and therefore requires earthing.
    See 6.12.3.2 of Sans 10142. Working at elevated heights on live equipment poses more of a risk compared to working at arms reach. Personally I would switch power off first, climb up the ladder, look for any obvious damage and then carry out the repairs. never make assumptions when working on electrical installations especially on top of a ladder.

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