Safety Regime for Gas & Electrical Work

Max Bradford Enterprise and Commerce
  1. This report presents the conclusions of the Commerce and Occupational Safety and Health Service (OSH) review team. Recommendations are given for improvements to the safety regime for both electrical and gas work.

  2. The problems identified with the operation of the current regime are:
    • the overlap and duplication between the HSE Act and the Electricity, Gas, and PG&D Acts causes confusion and adds unnecessary costs;
    • accountabilities for safety are not sufficiently clear in legislation;
    • the licensing regime does not cover some areas of work where regulation is needed and includes others where it is not;
    • the high level of prescription, particularly in the licensing processes, adds unnecessary costs and inhibits adapting to change;
    • some existing processes are less effective than they could be; and
    • the level, scope, and range of penalties and remedies is too limited to work effectively.

  3. The aim of the review was to develop a regime which would:
    • maintain or increase safety levels;
    • minimize legislative overlap and duplication;
    • lower the cost of complying with the regulatory regime; and
    • ensure clarity in regulatory and administrative regimes on safety.

  4. The proposed approach is based on regulating according to the degree of risk. It builds on the strengths of the present regime and the structures and processes that underpin it. It is recommended that changes are made to:
    • clarify that the HSE Act is the primary piece of legislation governing safety when electrical and gas work is being carried out, and align other legislation and allocate resources in line with that principle;
    • clarify and make explicit, accountabilities for electrical and gas safety in legislation;
    • remove much of the prescriptiveness on worker licensing so that organisations with alternative means of delivering safety are not required to use only licensed workers;
    • ensure that aspects of safety not able to be dealt with effectively under the HSE Act (i.e. public safety and the long term safe use of electricity and gas) are handled in a way that is consistent with the HSE Act;
    • improve the complaints and audit processes, and the accountability of the licensing boards;
    • increase maximum penalties and broaden the scope and range of penalties and remedies available in the legislation; and
    • make the EWRB, which currently operates as a unit of Commerce, an independent self-funded statutory body accountable to the relevant Minister for its performance on safety and worker competence.

  5. The report's key recommendations have been put to the Government for decisions in principle. If these recommendations are adopted, the next stage will be more detailed work on implementation, involving both government agencies and the industry representatives directly concerned, and will lead to drafting changes to the legislation. Once legislation is developed, the industry and public will have further opportunities to comment through the Select Committee process.

Review Team

Kay Switzer (Co-ordinator) Senior Advisor, Competition and Enterprise Branch, Ministry of Commerce

Jim Green Manager, Energy Inspection Group, Ministry of Commerce

Babs KlÿnInvestigator - Trade Remedies, Competition and Enterprise Branch, Ministry of Commerce

Rex MoirBusiness Adviser, Occupational Safety and Health Service, Department of Labour

Peter MorfeeChief Electrical Engineer, Energy Inspection Group, Ministry of Commerce

Mehdi YassaieChief Gas Engineer, Energy Inspection Group, Ministry of Commerc