What to do if you find unsafe or defective electrical work

Electrical practitioners sometimes come across electrical installations that do not comply with the AS/NZS 3000:2018 Wiring Rules. The following information is intended to provide you with the requirements of what you should do in this situation.

Before we understand the expected process, it is important to explain the differences between:

  • defective electrical work
  • unsafe electrical installations

Defective electrical work

This is electrical work which does not comply with Standards that applied when the work was done. After being inspected by the electrical safety inspection service, a defect notice is issued to the person responsible for the work.

Unsafe electrical work

This is a compliant installation that has become unsafe. Common examples include:

  • vegetation encroaching onto aerial conductors
  • a sink installed too close to an existing power point
  • conductor insulation degrading (most often the old rubber insulated conductors).

Sometimes defective or unsafe electrical work is immediately unsafe because it poses an immediate risk of electric shock, fire or explosion. Examples include:

  • explosive live parts
  • no multiple earthed neutral (MEN) connection
  • defective or unsafe electrical installations which area high voltage or in a hazardous area.

What must I do?

You may become aware of someone else's electrical work which is defective or unsafe but not immediately unsafe. In this situation you must inform the occupier of the property as well as your nominated manager about the issue. You should do this in writing and keep a copy for your own records. Once you notify the occupier, it is their responsibility to arrange for the issue to be fixed.

If you become aware of someone else's electrical installation which is immediately unsafe, you must immediately notify both the occupier of the property and your nominated manager. Again, you should do this in writing and keep a copy for your own records.

Your nominated manager must notify CBOS, unless the owner of the installation agrees to rectify or disconnect the affected part of the installation. An authorised officer may be required to attend and take any appropriate action.

So, as an electrical practitioner you are not required to rectify (at your own cost) defects or unsafe installations that you are not your responsibility. However, you are responsible for informing the occupier of the property and your nominated manager.

Contact CBOS

You can contact us about immediately unsafe electrical work by email or ring 1300 65 44 99 and ask for Electrical Standards and Safety.

We also would like you to tell us about defective electrical work where the work is recent and another contractor could be identified and held responsible for not complying with the applicable requirements.

This helps to:

  • keep the community safe
  • protect the electrical industry's reputation and
  • ensure a fair playing field for everyone.

Related information

Updated: 25 Jul 2022

This page has been produced and published by the Consumer Building and Occupational Services Division of the Department of Justice. Although every care has been taken in production, no responsibility is accepted for the accuracy, completeness, or relevance to the user's purpose of the information. Those using it for whatever purpose are advised to verify it with the relevant government department, local government body or other source and to obtain any appropriate professional advice. The Crown, its officers, employees and agents do not accept liability however arising, including liability for negligence, for any loss resulting from the use of or reliance upon the information and/or reliance on its availability at any time.