The importance of staying abreast with legislation

August 5th, 2014, Published in Articles: Vector


Mark Botha

Mark Botha

Electrical contractors in South Africa are becoming reluctant to issue Certificates of Compliance (CoCs) because of ignorance of the continual amendments to the electrical regulations and legislation.

To compound the problem, very few contractors are familiar with the Electrical Installations Regulations promulgated in 2009 and are, to this day, unable to distinguish between the requirements of the regulations and those of the wiring code, SANS 1014-2.

This backlog in training causes contractors to be uncertain of their work and reluctant to accept responsibility for their inspections.

However, it seems the electrical contractor is not solely to blame. Accredited inspection authority (AIA) Nico van den Berg says this problem stems from government’s delegation of contractor registration to the industry in the early 1990s, and from the perception of regulation authorities as purely policing bodies.

A condition to the hand-over of the contractor registration function was that contractors shall receive copies of the latest amendments to the regulations on annual renewal of registration.

These, it transpires, were provided rarely at best and contractors throughout the country stagnated in terms of the amendments.

This stagnation continued until 2010 when the Department of Labour resumed the function of contractor registration. The consequences are that inspection authorities today are hard-pressed to find electrical installations which are 100% compliant and that many electrical contractors are unaware of construction regulations such as those for the erection of scaffolding and for excavations.

In the past, when industry-related education was incorporated into the technical college curricula as the ā€œNā€ subjects, training included theoretical and practical training in workshops or classrooms, as well as on the job. This focus has, however, disappeared from an otherwise effective form of training.

Electrical contractors in this country are losing skills and the discontinuation of first aid training serves as an example. Contractors in this country are not trained in first aid or even basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) procedures despite the danger of electrocution inherent in electrical contracting work.

The requirements for becoming an electrician are set out clearly and include an N3 certificate, a trade test, knowledge of installation rules and the unit standards etc., but no mention is made of first aid. Only about 10% of electrical contractors in South Africa today are equipped with first aid training.

Van den Berg says the apparent failure to stay abreast with legislation also affects industry’s ability to control the influx of non-compliant goods. Although we have codes in place stipulating that imported products comply with certain international and South African standards, both the codes and components for these products have evolved continually while our documentation was not adapted.

Instead of policing contractors and threatening to take away their licences because of non-compliance, AIAs, as an interface between government and industry, should help the industry stay abreast with legislation and provide training rather than just threatening to take away the non-compliant contractor’s certificate.

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