New laws on the way for electrical safety

Published Wednesday, 22 May, 2024 at 11:37 AM

Minister for State Development and Infrastructure, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Racing
The Honourable Grace Grace

  • Miles Government introduced the Electrical Safety and Other Legislation Bill 2024 into Parliament today, to help keep Queenslanders safe
  • Bill ensures Queensland’s electrical safety laws keep pace with new and emerging industries
  • Modernises the definition of electrical installation and electrical equipment to capture new and emerging energy generation and storage systems
  • Extra-low voltage items that pose an electrical safety risk will be brought under the electrical safety legislative framework and may include e-scooter or e-bike batteries
  • Other measures also strengthen industrial manslaughter laws and worker representation

Following extensive consultation with industry, registered unions, electricity entities, peak bodies, and the community, the Miles Government is taking action to strengthen Queensland’s electrical safety laws.

The Electrical Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2024, introduced today, will implement the first tranche of recommendations from the independent review of Queensland’s Electrical Safety Act 2002 undertaken by Mr Dick Williams.

Over the last 20 years, since the Act 2002 was introduced, the way Queenslanders have used and interacted with electricity has changed dramatically.

These changes have also created new safety risks which need to be managed.

The Bill ensures Queensland’s electrical safety laws remain contemporary and will capture new and emerging technologies.

Specifically, the Bill amends the Act’s key definitions of ‘electrical equipment’ and ‘electrical installation.’ It allows certain prescribed extra low voltage equipment, to be captured in regulation as ‘electrical equipment’ where it is placing or may place persons or property at an electrical risk.

Items that may be considered include e-scooter or e-bike batteries which will allow the Electrical Safety Regulator to respond to risks caused by these technologies in the community and will be subject to consultation.

Further, the Bill clarifies the definition of ‘electrical installation’ to capture new and emerging energy generation and storage systems. This makes clear the licensing requirements for working on these systems and ensures compliance with the Wiring Rules.

The Bill also implements a range of electrical safety recommendations to enhance operational efficiencies relating to the regulator, inspectorate, and the Work Health and Safety Prosecutor. 

The Bill provides further enhancements to the Work Health and Safety Act and implements the three recommendations from the recent independent Industrial Manslaughter Review.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Industrial Relations Grace Grace MP:

"This Bill delivers the most substantial improvement to electrical safety in two decades, and I want to thank Mr. Williams for the decades of knowledge and experience he brought to leading the review.

“There are many new technologies and products on the market now that we could not have even imagined when the Electrical Safety Act was introduced in 2002.

"Today’s Bill ensures that Queensland’s electrical safety framework is contemporary, captures new and emerging technologies, and will make our homes and workplaces safer.

“The changes relating to Queensland’s nation leading industrial manslaughter provisions will ensure our independent WHS Prosecutor has the tools that will see businesses and individuals held to the highest account in court if their conduct results in a work-related death or serious injury.

“Yet again, the Miles Government is proving it backs Queensland workers – we always have and we always will.

“This is in stark contrast to the LNP, which has consistently voted against health and safety laws – including industrial manslaughter - we’ve introduced to keep Queenslanders safe, and would repeal them if they got the chance.”

Further information

Enhancements to the Work Health and Safety Act include:

  • Adding negligence as a fault element to a Category 1 offence, which is where employers expose workers to a risk of death, serious injury, or illness (currently only fault element is recklessness)
  • Powers for health and safety representatives and entry permit holders to capture video and photos of suspected contraventions, take measurements and conduct tests at the workplace
  • Powers for the WHS Regulator to set minimum standards for Registered Training Organisations who provide work health safety training

The Bill implements the three recommendations from the recent independent Industrial Manslaughter Review:

  • Expansion of the industrial manslaughter scope to include bystanders who are killed as the result of negligent conduct
  • Clarifying that multiple parties can be charged with industrial manslaughter, not just the direct employer
  • Introduction of alternative verdicts for industrial manslaughter and other serious offences. This means the WHS Prosecutor can seek the highest penalties available in the knowledge defendants can still be found guilty of an alternative offence if the most serious offence is not proven beyond a reasonable doubt, rather than being acquitted