Gov’t responds to insulation installer’s death

Recently SafetyAtWorkBlog reported of the death of a worker installing insulation in a domestic home.  A staple for the foil insulation apparently pierced an electrical cable and electrocuted the worker.

The Queensland Government has introduced mandatory provisions to avoid the hazard in the future.  In a media release on 1 November 2009, the Industrial Relation Minister, Cameron Dick,

“… issued a ministerial notice under the Electrical Safety Act 2002 to prohibit the use of metal fastenings for ceiling insulation.”

The ban is effective from 1 November 2009.

It may already be the case, elsewhere in the world, that non-conductive fasteners are used for installing metallic insulation.  If not, the rules introduced by the government should prove useful references.

“The ministerial notice means that installers will have to use nylon or plastic fasteners (which are already in use within the industry), glue or tape to fix foil insulation in ceilings.

As well as banning metal fasteners, the notice also:

  • forces insulation installers to comply with the Wiring Rules with respect to the placement of any type of insulation near recessed downlights
  • makes electrical safety risk assessment training mandatory for all installers
  • forces installers to document their on-site electrical safety risk assessments and keep a record f or five years.”

Such a mandatory rule is clearly a necessary short-term fix but it does little to address the concerns of the Master Electricians Association.  Training and enforcement are the long-term solutions but policymakers must also anticipate the applications of their policies more closely.  New policies should not be announced in an industry that does not have the resources to meet the policy’s aims.

Kevin Jones

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