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Safety standards for high voltage and complex electrical installations

This page guides owners and operators of high voltage and complex electrical installations about obligations.

Introduction

Owners and operators of high voltage (HV) and complex electrical installations need to be aware of their obligations in regards to electrical safety and compliance for work carried out on or near their electrical assets, equipment and installations.

This guideline aims to inform owners and operators of HV and complex electrical installations of some of their obligations. Key focus areas in this guideline are:

  • The safety standards and obligations of owners and operators of complex installations
  • The safety standards and obligations of owners and operators of HV installations
  • The obligations for supervision of apprentices
  • The reporting of serious electrical incidents.

While this guideline is aimed at owners and operators of HV and complex installations, many aspects of it are relevant to all electrical installations.

Complex and HV electrical installations

A complex electrical installation is an electrical installation that has a generation capacity equal to or greater than 1000kVA.

Complex electrical installations can include, but may not be limited to, traditional coal and gas-fired power stations, wind, solar and hydro power stations. This also includes

  • battery energy storage systems (BESS)
  • co-generation
  • rotating/dynamic grid stabilisers and
  • yet-to-be-utilised technology that can generate electricity.

A complex electrical installation is also an electric line that is on land that is not owned or leased by the owner or operator of the electric line.

An HV installation is

  • an electrical installation, or part thereof, that operates at alternating current (AC) voltage exceeding 1000 volts, or
  • a ripple free direct current (DC) voltage exceeding 1500 volts.

The Electricity Safety Act 1998

Part 7 of the Electricity Safety Act 1998 (ESA) places legal obligations on owners or operators of complex electrical installations. These obligations include that an owner or operator of a complex electrical installation must take reasonable care to ensure that all parts of the complex electrical installation that it owns or operates are

  • designed
  • constructed
  • operated
  • maintained and
  • decommissioned
  • in accordance with the regulations

and

  • are safe and operated safely.

In relation to design, this means that electrical installations shall be designed to eliminate or, if this is not reasonably practicable, minimise risks to health and safety throughout the lifecycle of the installation.

The Electricity Safety (General) Regulations 2019

The Electricity Safety (General) Regulations 2019 ('the Regulations') came into effect in December 2019.

There are some key regulations that owners and operators of HV and complex installations should be aware of, in particular:

  • Part 4 Reporting and records
    • 401 Reporting of serious electrical incidents
  • Part 5 Division 1 - Electrical safety duties and safety standards:
    • 501 Safety standards- high voltage electrical installations
    • 502 Safety standards- complex electrical installations
  • Part 5 Division 3 - Supervision duties
    • 507 Supervision of apprentices carrying out electrical installation work.

Owners and operators of HV and complex installations safety standards

Regulations 501 and 502 outline the safety standards for HV and complex installations. These regulations include, but are not limited to, the following requirements:

Owners and operators must ensure that

  • The electrical installation is safe, and it is maintained and operated safely
  • Any person operating the HV or complex electrical installation has a standard of
    • qualifications
    • proficiency and
    • experience that enables that person to safely perform their function
  • Any person operating or maintaining the HV or complex electrical installation has written operating and maintenance procedures that describe
    • the methods of operation
    • maintenance
    • earthing
    • isolation
    • energisation and
    • de-energisation of the HV or complex electrical installation
  • Any person operating or maintaining any part of the HV or complex electrical installation is
    • trained
    • authorised and
    • instructed to perform the work on the HV or complex electrical installation in accordance with the owner or operator's operating and maintenance procedures
  • Any person working on or near the installation is trained in accordance with and complies with the provisions of the Blue Book
  • An assessment of the owner’s or operator’s compliance with these requirements is carried out every 2 years.

Supervision duties

Supervision of apprentices carrying out electrical installation work – Regulation 507

This requirement extends to any licensed electrician or licensed electrical switchgear worker who has been tasked with supervising an apprentice carrying out electrical installation work.

Electrical incident reporting obligations

Reporting of serious electrical incidents – Regulation 401

A serious electrical incident means an incident involving electricity which causes or has the potential to cause

  • The death or injury to a person or
  • Significant damage to property or
  • A serious risk to public safety.

All reports of serious electrical incidents must be

  • made to ESV’s emergency response line on 1800 000 922.
  • followed up in a detailed written report and sent to ESV within 20 business days of the initial report.

Reporting of other electrical incidents – accidental contact and electric shock – Regulation 402

A reportable electrical incident means

  • an incident involving electricity in which a person has made accidental contact with any electrical installation or
  • has received an electric shock as the result of direct or indirect contact with any electrical installation.

All details of the reportable electrical incident must be given in writing to ESV within 20 business days of any person becoming aware of that incident.

ESV deems the following documents to assist in meeting the above-mentioned minimum safety standards and requirements:

The information presented in this guideline is intended for general use only.

Some information about the legislation is not directly quoted. It should not be viewed as a definitive guide to the law, and should be read in conjunction with the Electricity Safety Act 1998External Link and pursuant regulations.

Notes:

  • The word ‘must’ indicates that legal requirements exist which must be complied with
  • The word ‘should’ indicates a recommended course of action
  • The word ‘may’ indicates an optional course of action.

Further information

For more information regarding arc flash hazard management

For information on electricity safety legislation

Look up and live

Power lines are part of our landscape - sometimes we don’t even notice they are there. Be aware of precautions to take. Look up and live

Before You Dig Australia

Be careful where you dig or break the ground in any way, as there may be underground services, such as gas and electricity.

Any time you are breaking the ground with a shovel or an excavator, contact Before You Dig Australia at www.byda.com.au to lodge your free enquiry and find out if it is safe to dig.

References

Electricity Safety Act 1998

Electricity Safety (General) Regulation 2019

AS/NZS 3000 Wiring Rules

AS/NZS 4836 Safe working on or near low-voltage electrical installations and equipment

Code of practice on electrical safety for work on or near high voltage electrical apparatus (the Blue Book)

Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004

Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017

Australian publications

NEC Electrical Arc Flash Hazard Management Guideline March 2019

ENA NENS 09 - National guide to the selection, use and maintenance of PPE for electrical arc hazards

International publications

IEEE 1584-2018 Guide to Performing Arc-Flash Hazard Calculations

NFPA 70E- Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace 2021

Guideline information

For information regarding this guideline, please contact:

Electrical Installation Safety, Energy Safe Victoria
Level 1, Building 4 Brandon Business Park
Glen Waverley VIC 3150
Phone: (03) 9271 5414

WorkSafe Victoria’s Advisory Service
Phone: 1800 136 089


Note: This guidance material has been prepared using the best information available to Energy Safe Victoria and should be used for general use only. Any information about legislative obligations or responsibilities included in this material is only applicable to the circumstances described in the material. You should always check the legislation referred to in this material and make your own judgement about what action you may need to take to ensure you have complied with the law. Accordingly, Energy Safe Victoria and/or WorkSafe cannot be held responsible and extends no warranties as to the suitability of the information for your specific circumstances; or actions taken by third parties as a result of information contained in the guidance material. Safety standards for High Voltage and Complex electrical installations.

Date: 24/04/2024 1:10

The material in this print-out was accurate at the time of printing.

Reviewed 23 February 2023

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