Safety Issues in Homes and Businesses

Background on Mandatory Safety Issues in Western Australia

Rental Properties

Property Owners MUST have RCD’s checked in their rental properties every 12 -24 months, as per Australian Standard 3760. This is not optional it is a mandatory requirement.

Failure to be able to provide proof of regular inspections in the event of a claim is likely to lead to the claim being refused by the insurer. This has been confirmed by insurers and our Education Program is being supported by the Insurance Council of Australia

Property owners need to ensure that tenants comply with electrical safety and owners must undertake a routine inspection. This routine inspection MUST also be carried out by a ‘Competent Person’ as defined in AS3760, not simply a pre-lease checklist by a Property Manager. (Both Commercial and Residential properties)

These issues are now a concern as recent research has indicated that more than 90% of small business operators were not compliant with:

  1. Testing of building RCD’s,
  2. Emergency and Exit lights maintenance (if they had them),
  3. Their Fire Extinguishers,
  4. Many did not get appliances checked and inspected meaning they were a potential fire hazard.

Recent Court decisions and changes to legislation have meant that obligations must be complied with – or the person insured is simply NOT insured.

Real Estate Agents as the Agent and professional manager for the owner client must be aware and prepared or be liable for the consequences in the event of a breach.

Property being sold and purchased

All houses offered for sale are required to have Residual Circuit Devices (RCD’s) fitted prior to the sale of the property. If the property being purchased was built since January 2000 it is possible that the RCD’s have not been checked and certified since the building was completed.

Settlement Agents obtain a declaration from the current property owner or an electrical certificate to state that the property has RCD’s installed but nothing indicating that they are functioning correctly

There is a fallacy that assumes if an RCD is installed then it must be working, this is a dangerous assumption. The Office of Electrical Safety is currently investigating a case whereby a child was electrocuted as the installed RCD failed to operate. All RCD’s have a ‘push button test’ that can be done but this doesn’t measure the time taken to actually ‘trip’ the RCD. All RCD’s to be safe and protect from electric shock or even death must operate within 40 milliseconds. For example a ‘push button test’ may operate in one tenth of a second – which is 250 times slower than the time required to avoid a fatal electric shock. RCD’s should be tested using a special RCD tester that works from wall sockets inside the house, a copy of the actual tests undertaken and certification of the functionality should then be supplied. People obtain ‘White Ant Certificates’ but fail to obtain an ‘RCD Time Test Certificate’. If RCD’s are not functioning it could cost up to $500 to re-install new ones as well as jeopardising the clients life.

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