Don’t do your own electrical work

It's just not worth the risk

While you may think you can 'save' a couple of dollars by 'having a go'…

Stop – and ask yourself – is it worth risking your life or that of a loved one?

Not only is it breaking the law, but you could also be jeopardising your insurance!

Even when you think you know what you are doing, never attempt to do your own electrical work – it's dangerous, illegal and can be fatal.

Unlicensed and DIY electrical work – it's just not worth the risk!

Get a licensed electrical contractor

Always get a licensed electrical contractor to do any electrical work.

Contact details for licensed electrical contractors (electricians) can be found in the Yellow Pages, White Pages, and your local newspaper or by contacting an electrical industry association.

When choosing a licensed electrical contractor, always look for their electrical contractor licence number in any advertisement, and confirm that they have a current licence before agreeing to any work. You can check the status of the electrical contractor licence number through our licence search facilities.

If your electrical contractor does not appear to be in the database – call us on 1300 362 320.

What is electrical work?

Under section 18 of the Electrical Safety Act 2002 (PDF, 825 KB) (the Act), electrical work includes "the manufacturing, constructing, installing, testing, maintaining, repairing, altering, removing, or replacing of electrical equipment".

This covers tasks such as installing a new power point, replacing a light switch, replacing a batten holder with a new light fitting, repairing an appliance such as a heater, altering the location of an existing power point, replacing a light fitting with a ceiling fan, or constructing an extension lead and replacing a plug on the end of a lead.

It is not against the law to purchase electrical accessories or appliances that need to be hard wired, but they must be connected by a licensed electrical contractor.

Other work such as replacing a drive belt in a washing machine, cutting openings for air-conditioning units or fitting, but not connecting, an electric wall oven in a kitchen cabinet are not regarded as electrical work under the legislation. However, electrical risks such as damage to, or contact with, wiring contained within wall cavities need to be considered and appropriately controlled particularly when cutting holes or driving screws or nails into walls.

What can happen if I do my own electrical work?

Aside from being illegal, unlicensed and DIY electrical work is dangerous for whoever does the work as well as for the users or anyone else who subsequently comes into contact with the unsafe electrical installation or equipment.

In Queensland, Electrical Safety Inspectors investigate issues of unlicensed work.

People who perform unlicensed and DIY electrical work potentially risk contact with electricity while performing the work, which can have deadly consequences. Additionally, the electrical installation or equipment affected may be unwittingly left in an unsafe state. Due to the latent nature of some electrical faults, this danger may not be immediately apparent. The danger often only becomes evident in a fault situation, or may even develop over time.

Major property damage from an electrical fire is also a real risk which can impose considerable financial, emotional and social costs, especially if it was the result of illegal electrical work, which may lead to an insurer refusing a claim.

What are the penalties?

Apart from injury or death, DIY electrical work is regarded as unlicensed electrical work, which is illegal, and has penalties of up to $40,000 for individuals.

A breach that causes a death or grievous bodily harm attracts a maximum penalty of $100,000 for an individual ($500,000 for a corporation) or two years imprisonment. If a breach causes multiple deaths, the maximum penalty is $200,000 for an individual ($1,000,000 for a corporation) or three years imprisonment.

Electrical licensing

A person who performs electrical work in Queensland must have an electrical work licence authorising the work. Licensed electrical workers are required by law to ensure electrical work is performed in accordance with legislative requirements and any applicable codes of practice and technical standards.
Businesses which provide electrical work services for others in Queensland must have an electrical contractor licence (the actual electrical work may be done by one of the contractor's licensed electrical workers).

Licensed electrical contractors are required to meet specific insurance requirements including having a minimum of $5 million public liability insurance, with a $50,000 consumer protection component.

Unlicensed and DIY electrical work does not provide this assurance or protection.

Please check the Work Health And Safety Website

Last updated
29 April 2016

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