Improvements to regulations futile without a properly resourced Office of Energy Safety

The ETU WA Branch has been campaigning hard for improvements to OHS practices to deliver a safer workplace for electricians for many years now, so we welcome the State Government’s recent amendments and improvements to the Occupational Safety and Health, and the Electricity (Licensing) Regulations.

We commend these improvements to the regulations, which will improve the safety of electricians working conditions, and are aimed at preventing the avoidable deaths of electrical workers in roof spaces and domestic dwellings.

The State Government’s announcement on the amendments can be read by clicking here.

Whilst these amendments are a significant step in the right direction, any improvements to electrical workers occupational health and safety will be futile unless the regulatory authority for the industry, Energy Safety WA, is given the appropriate funding and resources to properly enforce the required safety standards.

Energy Safety must have the appropriate resources to effectively police the employers and network operators, and bring them to account when not meeting the standards necessary to keep the general public and industry workers safe.

The ETU is concerned by the current low number of Energy Safety Inspectors’ whom are responsible for enforcing these regulations, with a significant number of additional inspectors urgently needed to keep up with the ever-increasing workload.

Of further concern is the State Government’s threat to cut Inspectors wages by up to 30 per cent, through the removal of their current retention incentive allowance.

This will likely see inspectors leaving in droves, and be a serious disincentive to any future replacements, with better wages & conditions for experienced electrical workers offered outside Energy Safety WA.

These cuts cannot be justified given Energy Safety WA is a self-funded State Government body which has sufficient reserves ($11m) to maintain current salary provisions, as well as increase the number of Inspectors on the job to ensure a safe and efficient electricity network for the general public and industry workers alike.

The ETU WA will be seeking urgent talks with the Minister to discuss these important issues, and we will continue to campaign for the proper resources and a return of confidence for this demoralised agency.

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