Electricity and the home-owner

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Electricity and the home-owner

Information for the public in the interests of electrical safety

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) places the onus on “every user or lessor” of a property, to ensure that the property’s electrical installation does not pose a threat to you, your family, any other person or animal, or the property. It also places the responsibility on the user or lessor to prevent any hazardous situations that may trigger an electrical incident.

The Certificate of Compliance (CoC)has no expiry date but if any additions, modifications or alterations are carried out to the installation, you must insist that the electrical contractor provides you with an additional certificate that covers such work. Alterations to the installation may render the affected portions no longer covered, and that can be extrapolated to the completeness of the CoC for purposes of sale, etc, but the person who issued the CoC remains responsible for the unchanged portions, and that part of the CoC would remain valid.

Alternatively, you may request a new certificate for the entire installation but would obviously have to pay a fee for the inspection and testing of the installation. The contractor is only responsible for issuing a certificate for the work he/she has performed.

Should an incident occur, all involved parties will be investigated, and the homeowner could attract liability if the installation is not safe or is not being correctly used. It could also invalidate the insurance on the property. Save yourself the money and heartache associated with these incidents and ‘service’ your electrical installation on a regular basis. (See item 7 below.)



Certificate of Compliance and Test Report

The Occupational Health and Safety Act prescribes, through the Electrical Installation Regulations (EIR), who may carry out electrical installation work and, in this way, protects users of electricity. The Regulations also give protection to the public by means of an electrical Certificate of Compliance (CoC) and Test Report, which every user or lessor of an installation is obliged to possess and should ideally be provided every time a house changes ownership.

  1. Who can issue a Certificate of Compliance?

Only a *Registered Person may issue a CoC after he/she has inspected and tested the electrical installation and found it to be reasonably safe. However, the work itself may be carried out by the contractor’s competent employees working under his/her general control.

If any fault or defect is detected in any part of the electrical installation, the Registered Person must refuse to issue a CoC until that fault or defect has been rectified. Any CoC that has been fraudulently issued by an unregistered electrician is illegal and invalid and could endanger the lives of people and pets and damage or destroy property.

When looking for an electrical contractor to undertake electrical work, it’s a good idea to use a member of the ECA(SA). First, while not all registered electrical contractors are members of the ECA, all members of the ECA are registered with the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL).

Secondly, in the event that you are dissatisfied with the work undertaken, you will have recourse in that the ECA(SA) mediates between its members and their clients. The work of ECA members is guaranteed up to R20 000 (terms and conditions apply.)

*A Registered Person is an electrical tester for single phase, an installation electrician (IE) or a master installation electrician (MIE) who is registered with the Department of Employment and Labour according to the requirements in the Electrical Installation Regulations (1992).

  1. How do I know if an electrical contractor is registered?

If the electrical contractor is an ECA member, he/she is certainly registered because it is a condition of membership. You are entitled to ask to see an electrical contractor’s registration certificate and Wireman’s licence from the Department of Employment and Labour. This will show the registered person’s name, ID number and photograph. The date will indicate whether the contractor is currently registered as all electrical contractors are required to register on an annual basis. If there is any doubt about the registration, take note of the registration number and contact the Department of Employment and Labour to verify that the electrical contractor is indeed registered.

  1. How long does it take for an electrical contractor to inspect and test a property in order to issue a CoC?

Depending on the size of the installation, this can take anything between two and eight hours or even longer depending on the size of the installation. However, if the electrical contractor finds faults, these would have to be repaired and this may delay the issuing of the CoC.

Be wary if an ‘electrical contractor’ issues a CoC in 30 minutes. Be very suspicious of street pole advertising that offers CoCs for R700 or less. Remember, you get what you pay for! Depending on the location and size of an installation, a test and inspection for purposes of issuing a CoC would cost anything between R1 500 to R3 000, or more. Always verify the contractor’s registration and remember that only a Registered Person may legally issue a CoC.

  1. Do I need a CoC when I do alterations to the electrical work on my property?

Yes. A CoC must be issued whenever any alterations are done to an electrical installation.

Where any addition or alteration has been done to an electrical installation for which a CoC has already been issued, the owner/lessor must obtain a supplementary CoC according to clause 7(4) of the EIR, which states: Where any addition or alteration has been effected to an electrical installation for which a certificate of compliance was previously issued, the user or lessor of such electrical installation shall obtain a certificate of compliance for at least the addition or alteration.

All CoCs must be kept in a safe place as local council inspectors may request them at any time; and, in the event of a claim, the insurance company may ask to see a valid CoC for the insured property.

  1. How long is an electrical Certificate of Compliance (CoC) valid for?

A CoC is valid for the lifetime of an installation but excludes maintenance items (see 4. above). The Electrical Installation Regulations state that a Certificate of Compliance is valid for two years for purposes of transfer. Regulation 7(5) states: Subject to the provisions of section 10(4) of the Act, the user or lessor may not allow a change of ownership if the certificate of compliance is older than two years.

  1. Is my Certificate of Compliance and Test Report transferrable?

In terms of the Electrical Installation Regulations, the answer is yes, if the CoC and Test Report is not older than two years. However, if a property is being sold and its CoC and Test Report is older than two years, the seller must have the electrical installation re-tested and a new CoC and Test Report issued. Also remember if any additions and/or alterations have been undertaken, a supplementary CoC and Test Report must be obtained for such work.

The seller is required in terms of the OHS Act to sell an installation that complies with the Electrical Installation Regulations. The CoC and Test Report is the only recognised proof of this compliance.

  1. Are appliances covered by the Certificate of Compliance?

Appliances such lights, geysers, stoves, air conditioning units, etc (see note 3 on the front page of the Test Report) are not covered by the CoC and Test Report. A non-working appliance does not mean that the CoC is invalid.

The CoC and Test Report covers the whole installation from the point of control (main switch in the distribution board) to the point of consumption anywhere on the premises (ie socket outlets, terminals of light fittings, geysers, stoves, etc).

The CoC and Test Report certifies the fixed wiring of the electrical installation including the distribution board, light switches, wall-mounted isolators and socket outlets.

  1. I have a Certificate of Compliance (CoC) but the installation is not functioning properly. What should I do?

Proof of safety is the CoC and Test Report issued by a registered person – an electrician registered by the Department of Labour (DoL) as a Master Installation Electrician (MIE), Installation Electrician (IE) or an Electrical Tester for Single Phase – and who is registered with the Department of Labour as an electrical contractor. The registered person may be the proprietor or an employee of the business.

It is important to bear in mind that the CoC and Test Report certify the safety of the installation. It is possible that an electrical installation might not be fully functional (for example, some lights or plugs don’t work), but the installation is safe and the CoC and Test Report is valid. (Note 3 of the Test Report states: This report covers the circuits for fixed appliances, but does not cover the actual appliances, for example stoves, geysers, air conditioning and refrigeration plant and lights.)

  1. Is there any way I can check online whether an electrician is registered and/or whether an electrician has a Wireman’s Licence?

Currently, the Department of Labour does not provide this service. You can phone DoL for this information on (012) 309 4000 (Pretoria) or (011) 861 6130 (Alberton).

*INSERT - Alternatively you can search on this Platform as all electricians registered with the DOL are vetted, checked and listed as members

As all ECA members must be registered as electrical contractors with DEL, the ‘find a member’ section of the ECA(SA)’s website lists member electrical contractors by area.

Alternatively, contact your nearest ECA regional office for assistance.

  1. What is the ECA(SA)’s role in the electrical industry?

The ECA (SA) is an employer’s organisation and the only registered and representative organisation that looks after the interests of electrical contractors in South Africa. As such the ECA(SA) represents all employers at the annual negotiations with trade unions in the electrical industry where conditions of employment, wage rates and benefits for workers are determined and then published in a Collective Agreement of the Bargaining Council for the Electrical Industry.

The ECA represents the industry on a number of SABS committees, the most significant being the SANS 10142-1 committee that oversees the wiring of electrical installations.

Membership of the ECA (SA) is voluntary and all members of the Association pay an annual subscription fee.

  1. Do I need a CoC for my electric fence?

Yes, you do need an Electric Fence Certificate of Compliance. Any new, repaired, re-installed, restrung, extended or upgraded or electric fencing installed after 1 December 2012 must comply with the installation and material specifications in SANS 10222-3:2011 (including any amendments) and have a valid Electric Fence System CoC (EFC), issued by a registered Electric Fence System Installer (EFSI). The ECA(SA)’s Electric Fence CoC is green and each CoC has its own unique number.

  1. Do I need a CoC when my geyser is repaired or replaced?

Yes, you do. A CoC is only required if the geyser is replaced, or the fixed installation is altered. Repairing, like replacing of element or thermostat without touching the fixed part of the installation would not require a CoC.

Even if the insurance company sends someone to replace your geyser, the Electrical Installation Regulations (EIR) holds the user (homeowner) responsible to keep his/her CoC current. Regulation 2(1) of the EIR 2009 states that the “user or lessor shall be responsible…”

Reg 7(1) requires that the user must have a valid CoC, and 7(4) that he/she shall obtain an additional CoC for any addition or alteration.

The disconnection of a geyser and reconnection of another is considered to be an alteration. Also bear in mind that the EIR’s definition of installation work means

(a)  the installation, extension, modification or repair of an installation;

(b)  the connection of machinery at the supply terminals of such machinery …

On the other hand, the EIR also instructs under Reg 9(4) that any person who does electrical work (as above) shall ensure that a valid CoC is issued.

Thus you, the owner (or user) must ensure that you get a CoC for the replacement of a geyser, stove etc and any repair work, regardless of who gave the instruction, because ultimately you remain responsible.

To reduce the risk of hazardous situations …

  • It is recommended that your household appliances bear a label of a testing laboratory, ie SABS.

  • Avoid using several high amperage appliances (such as irons or heat producing appliances) on the same circuit simultaneously.

  • Avoid plugging two or more appliances into the same outlet or circuit if together they exceed 1 000 W. Examples of such appliances are air conditioners, hot plates, irons, washing machines, heaters, dishwashers, etc. Wattages are usually indicated on the appliance itself or in the instruction manual.

  • Dust and cobwebs are flammable and are an invitation for an electrical fire. Cobwebs around socket outlets that may be hidden behind cupboards must be removed regularly.

  • Dimmed lights, reduced output from heaters and poor television pictures may be symptoms of an overloaded circuit.

  • Clean your tumble dryer thoroughly as a blocked or dirty lint filter can catch fire or set fire to clothes inside the drum.

  • Be cautious when drilling holes or driving nails into walls. If you hit or damage electrical wires, a dangerous situation can be created.

  • Never use water to extinguish an electrical fire as water conducts electricity and could cause electrocution. Use a CO2 fire extinguisher. Every home should have one.




91 Newton Road, Meadowdale Ext 2, Germiston, 1401

(011) 392 0000



91 Newton Road, Meadowdale Ext 2, Germiston, 1401

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