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inside Geothermal energy: Beating the freeze Cable recall: To Infinity, and beyond Aaron Anderson: The workplace hangover THE INTERVIEW: Josh Nicholls – Platinum Electrical
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table of contents Average Net Distribution 33 977 CAB Audited as of September 2013
to Infinity, and beyond 04 conference wrap up
Victoria’s 12th licenced sparky
meet a master electrician
news from the distributors
regulator wrap up
04 Welcome to the Spring 2013 edition of The Master Electrician.
lifestyle 34 letter of the law
all about ME
the last word
Like us on facebook
General Enquiries Master Electricians Australia PO Box 2438, Fortitude Valley BC Queensland 4006 PHONE 1300 889 198 FAX 1800 622 914 EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org WEB www.masterelectricians.com.au
Editorial Contacts & Contributors EDITOR Malcolm Richards ASSOCIATE EDITOR Kirsty Bond ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES Janelle MacDonald PHONE 07 3252 4860 EMAIL email@example.com DESIGN AND PRINT POMO 07 3844 3873
42 Follow us @MasterElectrics on Twitter Become a Fan on Facebook www.facebook.com/ masterelectricians
www.masterelectricians.com.au or call 1300 889 198 The Master Electrician is printed on environmentally responsible paper sourced from FSC® certified forestry plantations. The paper is made with Elemental Chlorine Free pulps (ECF). Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this publication are offered solely in pursuance of the objects of the Electrical Contractors Association and Master Electricians Australia to provide an informative service to contractors in the electrical industry on legal, commercial and other issues and problems related to the industry. The Electrical Contractors Association and Master Electricians Australia are not aware that any person intends to act or rely upon such statements and opinions contained in this publication or the manner in which it might be possible to do so. The Electrical Contractors Association and Master Electricians Australia issues no invitation to any member or other persons to act or rely upon such statements or opinions or any of them and it accepts no responsibility for any of them. It intends by this provision to exclude, to the extent permitted by law, all liability for any such statements and opinions. The Master Electrician Magazine can be viewed online at www.masterelectricians.com.au
JUST as the Home Insulation Program inquiry drew to a close in September, the faulty Infinity cable recall was announced and Master Electricians Australia (MEA) once again lobbied for a safer industry by pressuring all state regulators into action with a concerted media campaign. Turn to page 4 to read more about serious questions raised by the entire fiasco and how a product that did not meet Australian standards could be imported and sold to the public in the first place. This edition we feature some fascinating insights into the lives of some well known, and not so well known, members of our industry. Read about Eric Mercer, who holds the 12th electrical licence issued in Victoria as well as an interview with Josh Nicholls, the entrepreneur behind Australia’s fastest growing franchised electrical company, Platinum Electrical. Until next time.
Kirsty Bond Associate Editor
The Master Electrician
To Infinity, and beyond Like a Hollywood animated comedy, the failure of state regulators in the Infinity Cables case is laughable and simply unbelievable. The ramifications for our industry and for home owners, however, are deadly serious.
In the Toy Story movie trilogy, the character Buzz Lightyear
In October, NSW OFT issued a further warning, then several
would deliver his catchphrase “To Infinity, and Beyond” just before attempting a crazy stunt.
days later a mandatory recall, for all Infinity branded TPS and
Usually it would be followed by a lot of noise, a lot of hype and a lot of promise, but not much action.
of this mandatory recall was delayed by Infinity placing itself
When the electrical regulators from various states were recently called to the challenge of the Infinity Cables fiasco, and beyond that to the issue of enforcing safety standards, they similarly came up empty-handed.
The recall warned that the insulation on the cable may deteriorate
A lot of hype, a lot of noise, a lot of promise, but not much action.
cable continued to be legally available in all other states.
It took a concerted media campaign by Master Electricians Australia (MEA) to draw attention to the fact that dangerous cabling was being sold in major retail outlets around Australia, and shame state regulators into a recall.
Dissatisfied with this disjointed approach, MEA commenced
The NSW Office of Fair Trading started out well enough, after its testing sparked a national recall in August of Infinity TPS 2.5mm twin and earth flat cable model FT3025 with batch numbers INFMEL081112, INFH210912 and Infinity branded Olsent cable INFH190311.
owners were being exposed to serious risk of fire or electric
At the time, Recalls Australia said the product had been sold in all states but Tasmania, at Masters Home Improvement, from April 2012 to August 2013. www.masterelectricians.com.au
Orange Round cable, after conducting further tests. The timing into receivership.
over time, creating a risk of fire or electric shock. Despite this dire move in NSW, other states failed to respond. The
a media campaign to pressure other states into a recall. MEA Chief Executive Malcolm Richards warned that home shock by the shambolic state electrical safety laws and testing procedures. Aside from the failure of other states to recall the cable, the entire episode raised serious questions about how a product that did not meet the standards could be imported and sold to the public for almost 18 months without being tested at any point.
Concerning aspects of the recall included: • The fact that NSW initially found the cable to be faulty, but could only issue a warning rather than a recall as the company placed itself into receivership • While this was eventually upgraded to a compulsory recall in NSW, other states did not follow suit until pressured by MEA to do so • The fact that the cable was not required to be tested by the regulator to ensure it complied with Australian standards before being sold to consumers, and • The fact that other varieties of Infinity cable – made in the same factory – may also be faulty but have not been tested. To Infinity … At the heart of MEA’s concern were the twin questions of how to ensure all the dangerous cable was removed, and – critically – who would be responsible for the cost of removing and replacing the cable. At the time of publication, these questions remain unresolved, although MEA has initiated talks with Masters Home Improvement about the cost of removing and replacing the product. “If it has been used in construction, it may cost several thousand dollars to replace a $50 piece of cabling,” Mr Richards said.
“But if it is not removed, it will be a ticking time bomb in the roof spaces of affected homes for the next 20 years. As the insulation deteriorates in hot ceiling conditions, it will only need a touch from a home owner or contractor – perhaps many years from now – in order for a fatality to occur. “We must also see a real effort by all states to support a genuine recall – one which addresses the costs of removing and replacing this dangerous material. If nothing is done today, then homes and lives are almost certain to be lost in the years ahead.” Mr Richards said the recall was complicated by the fact that the faulty cable had been sold directly to the public, as well as through two wholesale electrical suppliers, meaning that there was no record of where it had been installed and by whom. “In any safety recall, it is difficult to locate and secure every single piece of potentially faulty equipment. This will be made even more difficult by the fact that large retailers do not have the same sales records that electrical wholesalers do. After just one day of media pressure, Queensland and Western Australia had also issued a recall, and Victoria followed a few days after that. In fact Queensland recalled all Infinity cable, recognising that products from the same factory, produced under the same brand, were highly likely to have the same faults. The Master Electrician
At the time of publication, MEA was continuing to pressure the other states to come to the same standard. For its part, Masters Home Improvement claims it is currently undertaking “independent quality assurance testing” of the Infinity branded cable. It has written to some of its customers offering to “arrange for a qualified person to inspect the cabling”. It has given no indication, however, of whether that person will be inspecting the cable for damage or deterioration – which may not be evident at this point in time but may become so in the future – or whether they will simply inspect to determine that the cable is indeed the affected brand. And more importantly, it has made no public commitment to helping rectify this life-threatening problem. “We are not currently in a position to make offers to remove any installed cable, or to take further precautionary measures to protect these premises from the eventuation of possible future concerns,” the letter says. However, Masters Home Improvement does say that it will “consider whether and in what circumstances it may be necessary for further steps to be taken in relation to installed cable”. MEA will attempt to hold further discussions with Masters Home Improvements to progress this option. … and beyond While the various aspects of the Infinity recall were disturbing in themselves, MEA’s future concern is to deal with the glaring systemic failures that the whole episode has exposed. www.masterelectricians.com.au
Mr Richards says there are clear failings within the testing and accreditation system, and within the safety recall system, that must be addressed urgently. “We need to know how a product can be imported and sold for such a period of time without having to undergo even basic testing to ensure it meets the Australian standard,” he said. “There has been slow progress towards a national compliance regime that would fund and conduct ongoing testing, to overcome the problem of the so-called ‘golden sample’, where manufacturers make a compliant prototype in order to pass the testing but then let their standards lapse. “However, the system is clearly not up to scratch when substandard product can be put on the market without an initial compliance test, then sold nationally for almost 18 months without a spot check. “Then, when faults are discovered, a lack of rigorous national recall procedures means it can linger on the shelves in some states even after being declared a fire and safety risk in others. “In the short term we are focused on ensuring the most comprehensive return of product possible, and a fair compensation scheme for our members and other electrical contractors required to remove it. “However, once those issues are bedded down, we will be demanding an overhaul of testing and compliance procedures to ensure this kind of serious regulatory failure cannot happen again.”
Conference wrap up From left: Barry Stanton (Platinum Electrical), Josh Nicholls (Platinum Electrical), Tammy Stanton (MEA Councillor), and Alana Nicholls (Platinum Electrical).
Viva Las Vegas! Industry partners and business associates took to the skies and flew to the City of Lights for MEA’s 40th Annual Electrical Industry Conference. Here’s a peek at what went on at this year’s highly anticipated event. Caution: Shooting and hanging involved!
Each year, Master Electricians
Australia’s (MEA) Industry Conference provides a unique opportunity for members of the electrical industry to come together and not only network, but share their experiences of the past year, gain insights into topics relevant to their business and explore new ideas. This year’s Conference was no exception. MEA Board members, Councillors, staff, special guests and delegates met up in the City of Lights, Las Vegas, at the beautiful Palazzo for an action-packed four-day schedule of business, technical, and of course, leisure activities. The Conference officially opened with a splash on Monday 23 September, as delegates joined the resident mermaid at the Haymans Welcome Reception by the spectacular Venetian Pool and raised their glasses to the energetic and compelling unplugged sounds of Acoustic Joe. After an evening making new friends and getting reacquainted with old ones,
delegates were well rested for the start of the business sessions on Tuesday morning. We kicked off the sessions with invaluable presentations from MEA’s very own Mark Dearlove (General Manager Services Development), Hoover Dam expert Bill Schermerhorn, Klein Tools’ Greg Palese, and President of Sungevity Danny Kennedy. Delegate Tom Birt from Northern Switchboard Solutions felt the sessions helped him gain invaluable information for his business. “You get to meet some great business associates face to face and the business sessions produced some fantastic speakers and presentations,” he says.
and after the presentations conclude you get to have some wonderful relaxation time.” Indeed, that evening delegates were transported back in time for L&H’s Wild West inspired dinner at the Bonnie Springs Ranch in Old Nevada Town – a replica of an authentic 1880s mining town. After joining the line dancers for a boot scoot, delegates tested their aim at the shooting gallery, then witnessed the hanging of a ‘notorious criminal’ (L&H’s Matthew Carter), all while basking in the breathtaking scenery of the surrounding Red Rock Canyon.
“They’re a great opportunity to speak with different business owners who may have the same problems you have – and sometimes you get to sort some of those problems out right there and then!
It was back to business on Wednesday morning, where delegates heard from well-known industry figure and President of NECA USA Dennis Quebe during the day’s business session. He was followed by NECA USA’s John Grau and Stan Lazarian, with Norton Rose’s Aaron Anderson rounding off the day’s informative sessions.
“But it’s not all work and no play. You’re certainly not at the business sessions all day
“You get to take what you’ve learned from these sessions back home with The Master Electrician
8 you and actually make it work better for your business,” Northern Switchboard Solutions’ Mr Birt says. “I’d recommend the Conference to anyone – it’s the best investment you could make for your business.” That day, delegates that signed on for the Hoover Dam tour were treated to a fascinating look into the world’s largest concrete archgravity dam. Delegates had the rare opportunity to take in aweinspiring views of the dam face, Lake Mead, the intake towers and the Colorado River from the Observation Deck. But all good things must come to an end. The final day of the Conference certainly did not disappoint, as delegates heard from E-Oz Energy Skills Australia’s Bob Taylor and Peter Tighe, Schneider Electric’s Alban Cambournac, and CEO of ERM Power Mitch Anderson for the last of the business sessions. While delegates learned priceless trade secrets and gleaned a wealth of knowledge from the presentations, it was motivational speaker Marvelless Mark, our final presenter of the Conference, who wrapped up the business sessions with a one-of-a-kind high energy presentation that got everyone off their feet and cheering! After an exhilarating four days, the Conference was concluded with a bang at HPM Legrand’s Masquerade Ball and Conference Finale Dinner. While delegates enjoyed a beautiful Venetian-style feast, their ears were treated to the sounds of one of Las Vegas’ hottest bands – Mr & Mrs Smith. In true masquerade style, there were plenty of laughs as a court jester entertained everyone throughout dinner.
“For a great time!” he says. “It was a great opportunity to network and meet other fellow contractors. “I had a ball of fun during the four days of the Conference. So see you at next year’s!” MEA CEO Malcolm Richards says the Conferences are an essential part of MEA’s service as a member organisation. “It provides the rare opportunity for the electrical industry to come together and often, for the first time, meet face to face,” Mr Richards says. “We trust that next year’s Conference, being held at the Palmer Coolum Resort on the beautiful Sunshine Coast, will see new industry members in attendance as well as welcome back many familiar faces.” Keep an eye out for more details on the MEA 2014 Electrical Industry Conference coming soon.
Captured on Camera!
To view more photos from this year’s Conference in Las Vegas, visit Featuring: www.masterelectricians.com.au/conference
MEA Life member Frank Gedling posed the question on everyone’s minds, asking, “Why did I fly all the way to Vegas?”
• Exclusive offers • Member only events MEA greatly the continued support of our sponsors, • Your appreciates business listed on useasparky.com.au who help make the Conference as informative • Plus loads more! and memorable as possible. Naming Sponsor:
Can you afford not to be a member? Check out our website for further details Major Sponsors:
Malcolm Richards – MEA, Brad Tully – Haymans and Stephen Creese – Matchmaster
MEA Chairman Richard Flanagan and the Bonnie Springs Cowgirls
Ronald & Cheryl Dalgleish from RJD Electrical Contracting at the HPM Legrand Masquerade Ball
Chris Patten from L&H with wife Krishna and son Jack.
Haymans welcome reception
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Victoria’s 12th licenced sparky During his six decades in the electrical trade and as an industry pioneer holding the 12th Victorian electrical licence number, sparky Eric Mercer is a man who’s lived a life straight out of the pages of a thriller novel.
Not many electricians can lay claim to being a pioneer of the industry, but with more than 60 years of experience in the trade under his belt, 82-year-old Eric Mercer certainly comes close.
Eric approached the Master Electricians Australia (MEA) team with a life story we could hardly believe. At the age of 21, Eric received the 12th electrical contracting licence registration number in Victoria. No mean feat, considering that number has now reached 22,715! Hailing from a family of electricians – Eric’s grandfather was an electrician and plumber, and both of Eric’s sons are electricians – Eric completed his five-year electrical apprenticeship at 21 years of age.
“In the many years of electrical work I did when running my own business, my company never encountered any mistakes or faults with the State’s Electricity Commission because we knew the regulations backwards – and this was possible to do as it was a simple regulation book that’s content was stable for years. “There just seems to be much more unnecessary red tape and rules now than there were before, although we still had a few ‘cowboys’ in those days!”
“Being quite the safety conscious worker, I always made sure to wear rubber soled shoes whenever I was on the job.”
Eric says more time is spent completing paperwork than before, and he notes a general downturn in the quality and longevity of things within the electrical industry. “In some cases, the industry has declined into a bunch of pen pushers,” he says.
The two-time Victorian Apprentice of the Year had plenty to share about the significant changes he’s witnessed within the electrical industry since his time as an electrical apprentice in the 1940s.
“I believe there is also a slowdown in the training of the younger generation of electricians. There is now significantly less time spent doing an apprenticeship.”
“The electrical regulations have gone from a simple-to-understand book the size of a small novel, to books upon books that are constantly changing,” Eric says.
In his youth, Eric Mercer never had the time to be a child. Growing up in Coburg in northern Melbourne, ten-year-old Eric began selling apples after school for a local apple grower.
“Back in the day, I was paid one shilling per case and a sixpence for half a case,” Eric says. “By the time I was 11, I had become quite successful selling apples. So much so that my weekly wage was half that of my father’s! “I also began selling horse manure on the side, to make a little extra money. I simply didn’t have time to be a little boy!” Unfortunately, he experienced a less than satisfactory upbringing, which led to him leaving home as soon as he could afford to at the age of 14. Having made his ‘fortune’, Eric moved in with a friend but left school a year later and commenced working at a small appliance manufacturer in Brunswick called Servex. The following year saw Eric leaving Servex, which was when his path toward an electrical career began. Eric commenced an electrical apprenticeship at JP Evans, a large Melbourne based electrical contractor.
“Mr Lewis was the boss there,” Eric recalls. “Trade school was two nights a week at two hours each time, and four hours on Friday afternoons. I was paid normal wages for the Friday afternoons but not for the evening classes. “Being quite the safety conscious worker, I always made sure to wear rubber soled shoes whenever I was on the job.” During this time, Eric was awarded a scholarship and completed his five-year apprenticeship. At the age of 21, he started his own business, EM Mercer Electrician, which was originally an electrical contracting business but later branched out into building projects. EM Mercer rapidly grew, leading to Eric’s completion of his building qualification. At the peak of work, Eric’s business was building 40 houses a year and working the equivalent of 70 hours per week. But it wasn’t always smooth sailing for Eric and his business. At the age of 60, Eric went bankrupt and was left with not a penny to his name. He lost four houses, and accumulated a monumental $500,000 debt.
The Master Electrician
Financial difficulties weren’t the only setbacks Eric had to contend with. Eric was attacked on two separate occasions and was left disabled from the incidents. Twenty years ago, a physical assault caused the left side of Eric’s brain to be permanently damaged and left him with the use of only half his brain. He was again attacked three years ago in a road rage incident, leaving his body riddled with injuries. Both of Eric’s shoulders had the muscles torn off the bone, and his neck, hips and pelvis were knocked out of alignment, adding greater struggle to his difficulty in walking. Due to the attacks and having suffered an additional stroke, Eric has a permanent speech and communication impairment, and is unable to write with a pen. Being able to scrawl his own signature is the only exception to his disability.
Eric was attacked on two separate occasions and was left disabled from the incidents. Twenty years ago, a physical assault caused the left side of Eric’s brain to be permanently damaged and left him with the use of only half a brain.
During this time, Eric’s 19-year-old son John was nearly killed in a horrific car accident that left him with extensive brain damage and broken bones. “He was unconscious for weeks. When he woke up, the doctors said damage done to his brain had caused his intelligence level to become equivalent to that of a two-year-old child,” Eric says. “They told my wife and I to take him home and care for him for the rest of our lives. We were shattered, but we weren’t willing to give up on our son or simply accept that he would never get better. “We came up with an idea to utilise reflexology to re-teach John the basics that he would need in life. We saw many specialists but they all said the same thing – it wouldn’t work. “But what choice did we have? He’s our son. So we started re-educating him from scratch and for a long time it didn’t work and he didn’t seem to make any progress. But we stuck to it and gradually we began to see improvements. Years later, he was back to 90 per cent normal and today runs his own business.” Eric says reflexology utilises the power of touch to trigger brain activity. For example, pressing down on the top of John’s big toe would prompt his brain to react to the pain being inflicted. Eric believes continuous reflexology improved both his and his son’s lives after their injuries.
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Eric hasn’t let life’s hardships deter him from doing the things he loves most. Against seemingly impossible odds, Eric and his son both persevered to enjoy long and lucrative careers in the electrical industry.
“Specialists could hardly believe it, it was a miracle. I believe it was our perseverance with reflexology that saved John’s life,” he says. Eric hasn’t let life’s hardships deter him from doing the things he loves most. Against seemingly impossible odds, Eric and his
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son both persevered to enjoy long and lucrative careers in the electrical industry. Today, Eric is retired from work, but that certainly hasn’t stopped the 82-year-old from chasing his dreams. “My motto in business is always ‘no second rate, only top rate’,” Eric says. “Trust is the main thing in business, and that doesn’t seem to hold true these days so my tip to young sparkies out there is to be trustworthy and do your job to the best of your ability.
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“It helps to go beyond being just an average tradesperson – learn, discover, and find out new things. “Be diverse and offer your customers a wide range of work, but most importantly be happy and enjoy what you do.” Eric Mercer still has one more job to do. He will soon move to the Philippines and come out of retirement to start his own heating and cooling business and insulating windows. He’s a sparky who just
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the buzz New industry video project to boost apprenticeships Master Electricians Australia (MEA) goes behind the scenes with major players in the industry in a tell-all video project aimed at boosting the uptake of apprenticeships within the energy industry. MEA will be launching six videos in early 2014 as part of its very first Careers Video Production Project, to promote career pathways to budding young apprentices in the industry. The videos will be shown to school students, high schools, parents, career advisors, job seekers and employers, as well as made available for use online through websites and social media channels. MEA National Apprenticeship Program Manager Stacey Ozolins said each video is three to five minutes in length and was made available both as a combined resource and as six smaller productions. “A common thread through all six videos is quality and safety,” Ms Ozolins said. “What we’re trying to show here are real people in real jobs in the industry who, like everyone else, worked their way up from the bottom. We want to portray a realistic view of what working in the energy industry is all about and the pathways that are available. Many young people have a perception that you complete an apprenticeship and you are stuck in the one job forever. This video combined with other careers resources developed in partnership with Energy Skills Queensland show young people there is a diverse industry with hundreds of career options to choose from. “It’s a revealing video project that shows with dedication and the right amount of enthusiasm and hard work, any one of us can get to where we want to be in the industry.” Ms Ozolins said the videos would enable more students and apprentices across the country to gain a comprehensive understanding of the career pathways available to them, as well as a look into what goes on behind the scenes of the energy industry.
“We feature people like MEA CEO Malcolm Richards and Power Integration Director Glen Powell, who in the videos share their background and career pathways to their present roles,” she said. “We hope their story will inspire young students and apprentices across the country.” Ms Ozolins said it was hoped the videos would act as a form of guidance for students who were unable to access the support they needed through the course of their studies. “One of the biggest reasons for apprentice dropouts is a lack of understanding on what is involved in the energy industry. Our industry requires a high level of language, literacy and numeracy to be successful in an apprenticeship. Knowing where to find accurate information or where to get help is essential to assist young people in choosing the industry that is the ‘right fit’ for them. “Many feel they have nowhere and no one to turn to for advice and become disillusioned, believing that dropping out is the best solution. “Often, all these students need is just someone to talk to.” Ms Ozolins said the videos also featured apprentices students could relate to on a personal level, such as MEA’s National Apprentice of the Year winner Dalton Pike from Tradesmen on Time. “These videos are a real and tangible starting point for a lot of young people who are considering the energy industry as a career path or stepping into the industry for the first time,” she said. Watch the videos at www.masterelectricians.com.au or on Youtube. The ApprenticeConnect Australia Advisors Project is an initiative of Master Electricians Australia and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education through the Australian Apprenticeships Mentoring Package.
Schneider Electric office consolidation leads to energy efficient EcoStruxure showcase Schneider Electric employees in Western Australia have relocated to a new energy smart office at Malaga, Western Australia. The move consolidates six existing office spaces into one, with almost 300 employees now sitting and interacting in the same space. The open plan office, completed in September 2013, allows employees to easily communicate and work together to ensure the best experience for customers. Filled with natural light, the office was built by Abacus Project Services and was designed by Cornerstone Architects. It is set across two levels with basement parking, and dedicated workshop space for Schneider Electric Integrated Business Support employees. To ensure energy efficiency at the site, Schneider Electric EcoStruxure energy management systems have been installed into the building. This solution brings all the energy systems together, including T5 fluorescent and LED lighting, DALIcontrol and C-Bus lighting control, energy monitoring, security access and more. Energy usage of the building will be displayed in the reception area, so employees and visitors alike will be aware of efficiencies. A dedicated EcoStruxure showcase room is also located in the building, so that customers can experience the solution in a realworld situation. “Our new building in Western Australia is a state of the art office space, where our employees can enjoy direct interaction with their state colleagues to help foster collaboration and working
New short film to raise electrical safety awareness A new film launched by the Electrical Safety Office (ESO) in Queensland is helping to raise electrical safety awareness by showcasing the experiences of a family touched by tragedy. Forever young – Tim’s story focuses on the heart-wrenching experiences of Bill Martin, whose young son Tim died at the age of 17 after he suffered an electric shock at work. At the time of the incident, Tim was an electrical apprentice working on signage from an elevating work platform. The platform came too close to high voltage power lines, and a massive electrical current arced across the gap. “I just hope no other parent has to walk in and find what I found that day,” Bill said. “At the time of Tim’s death he was seventeen and four months old. He didn’t get to eighteen and will never get to eighteen.”
efficiencies,” Schneider Electric Pacific managing director Stephen Coop said. “Using our own technologies in the building has meant that we can create an energy efficient work space where all the energy management systems work together to keep energy usage and costs to a minimum. We are the specialists in energy management, and we are doing our best to make the most of our energy.” The Malaga office follows on the success of five other consolidated Schneider Electric sites in the Pacific: Victoria (Notting Hill), Queensland (Trade Coast), South Australia (Gepps Cross), New Zealand (Highbrook) and New South Wales (Macquarie Park).
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the buzz Electrotechnology industry set to take on the digital economy Small–to-medium sized businesses in the electrotechnology industry will soon be able to access tailored advice on how to improve and build their businesses by taking advantage of the digital economy. Starting with the release of a digital knowledge survey, business owners can provide their input into the creation of a comprehensive Digital Business Kit tailored for the industry. Master Electricians Australia (MEA) has been successful in securing government funding to develop a digital business kit to help the trades get online and use the NBN to drive productivity. MEA believes for Australian businesses to take full advantage of the NBN they need targeted information, as well as an understanding of how leading businesses in the electrical industry are using the internet and online tools. MEA CEO Malcolm Richards said that in a sector set to boom as
the NBN rolls out, it’s imperative that the electrotechnology industry has the opportunity to compete. “The digital business kit that we develop will be a vital resource for operators across the sector,” said Mr Richards. The digital business kit will include a range of video tutorials on how to compile and upload high definition demonstrations of their work, how to use video conferencing to analyse customers’ building or maintenance needs, provide quotes (from remote locations), and use online footage to promote their business. MEA will distribute the kit in 2014 throughout industry and online channels. The kit will be regularly updated to incorporate new ways of making use of the NBN as these emerge in the sector. To ensure the digital business kit provides you with the information you need, MEA has developed a digital knowledge survey to assess the needs of the industry. Everyone in the electrotechnology industry is encouraged to take the short survey about their current digital knowledge and future needs. Visit www.masterelectricians.com.au to take the digital survey.
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feature energy spotlight
The 1MWe Habanero Pilot Plant in South Australia.
Beating the freeze on hot rocks As the worldwide hunt for renewable energy sources gains momentum, geothermal energy has again become an increasingly hot topic. Rebecca Belsham explores the challenges faced by Australia’s first Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) power operation in South Australia.
Geothermal energy itself is no new kid on the block, with hot springs being used for bathing since the caveman era. Its earliest industrial exploitation dates all the way back to 1827, when geyser steam was used to extract boric acid from volcanic mud in Larderello in Italy. While geothermal energy has been around for thousands of years, until recently, Australia’s only geothermal energy use was limited to an 80kW power plant which has operated in Birdsville, Queensland since 1992. As Geothermal energy originates from the Earth’s crust, it’s extracted by circulating a fluid through the reservoir to bring the heat to the surface where it can be used to generate electricity or as heat in direct-use appliances. Traditionally, global geothermal resources are exploited via hydrothermal systems in high heat flow and volcanic regions associated with tectonic plate boundaries such as those in the USA, New Zealand and Indonesia.
extraction techniques such as Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS), or ‘hot rock’ as it is affectionately known. The Geoscience Australia and ABARE Australian Energy Resource Assessment found substantial potential of geothermal energy in Australia, reporting that just one per cent of the geothermal energy resources with a minimum temperature of 150˚C and a maximum depth of 5km could provide 190 million PJ of energy – that’s enough to provide 25,000 times Australia’s current energy usage! However, geothermal power is virtually non-existent in Australia as the industry has been faced with many obstacles to overcome including uncertain viability, competition with other renewable energies and the huge capital costs of extraction. In an interview with ABC News, the CSIRO’s geothermal energy stream leader Cameron Huddleston-Holmes explains EGS resources are typically in crystalline rocks that are heated by decay of radioactive potassium, uranium and thorium and buried under insulating sediments that trap the heat.
These regions house significant volumes of fluid at high temperatures and relatively shallow depths, making for an easier and more economically viable extraction.
“While geothermal projects in other parts of the world tap into hot volcanic systems close to the surface, it’s a far more difficult proposition in Australia because the hot rocks are a long way down,” Mr Huddleston-Holmes says.
As a result of Australia’s more stable intraplate tectonic setting, our Geothermal Industry has been forced to explore alternative
“I’m not very surprised that it’s taken some time to develop this technology here.
“The Habanero Pilot Plant comes as a culmination of key achievements in the development of EGS technology, including creation of an underground heat exchanger and the completion of the Company’s most productive EGS well yet. “The trial successfully demonstrated the technical feasibility of base-load, emission-free geothermal electricity production from Enhanced Geothermal Systems. “In the early stages of development of geothermal in Australia there was a lack of understanding of what the real technical challenges would be, and so that’s been part of the lesson that we’ve learnt over the last 10 years. “We really do need to address these key technical challenges that are confronting industry so it can progress from where it is right now.” Geodynamics is the only company that’s attempting to beat the hot rock stand-off, by actively drilling wells to harness geothermal power in Australia. Geodynamics has exploration projects in Queensland, New South Wales, the Northern Territory, on Savo Island and a major project in South Australia’s Cooper Basin in Innamincka. Geodynamics CEO and managing director Geoff Ward says they’ve had to overcome a number of obstacles to get the projects off the ground. “The wells are deep, at 4,200 metres, the challenges are a combination of factors, as most engineering challenges are,” he says. “It is the wells’ depth; and it’s the temperature as we are approaching 260 degrees at the bottom of the hole. There’s also the pressure, the pressure down there is higher than you would anticipate at that depth. “And so this combination of depth, temperature, pressure and then the incredibly hard sediment that we have to drill through and the hardness itself of the granite creates a range of challenges in well engineering.”
“We are very pleased to have safely and successfully completed the test program and demonstration trial at the 1MWe Habanero Pilot Plant.” The 1 MWe Habanero Pilot Plant has been shut down while the results of the trial are analysed. It will be maintained so that it can be used for further trials or as part of an ongoing initial commercial development. Mr Ward says Geodynamics will now focus on developing a firm proposal for the next stage development of an initial commercial plant. “Our proposals will cover establishing a range of development options for the supply of electric power or industrial heat for local customers, so we can secure funding partners to finance the next development stage.” Geothermal energy has the potential to be a critical element in Australia’s future power generation and Geodynamics is at the forefront of development – beating the freeze on Australian hot rocks.
Innamincka EGS Project Data • Some of the hottest known heat producing granite rocks with measured temperatures of 273-283°C at 4,911 metres (Jolokia 1) • Current reported inferred, indicated and measured geothermal resource of 59,200 PJ recoverable thermal energy ~7,000 PJ end user energy
Geodynamics Innamincka EGS project’s sole focus is the development and commercialisation of geothermal energy generation from Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS).
• Equivalent to electrical supply from ~16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas or ~750 million metric tonnes of thermal coal (40% eff)
As part of the project the 1MWe Habanero Pilot Plant was successfully commissioned, and generated first power in May 2013. The trial plant was shut down in October after successfully operating for 160 days.
• Drilled 6 of the deepest, hottest EGS wells
Mr Ward says the Habanero Pilot Plant received a Clean Energy Council Innovation Award and was one of only three operating EGS power plants in the world.
Wells to Date
“The trial results exceeded expectations, achieving the best recorded closed loop flows – the all-important circulation of liquid inside the system that converts the heat to power generation – and highest well-head temperatures ever achieved at Habanero. The trial plant also achieved more than 75 per cent up-time,” he says. “This is a significant milestone for Geodynamics, generating Australia’s first EGS power and demonstrating EGS geothermal capabilities.
• Discovered and enhanced the most productive granite fracture system in the world
Date Drilled 2003 2004 2008 2008
Name Habanero 1 Habanero 2 Habanero 3 Jolokia 1
Depth 4,421 m 4,459 m 4,200 m 4,911 m
Temperature 243°C 244ºC 242ºC 278ºC Well suspended 242ºC
The Master Electrician Spring 2013
meet a master electrician Name: Leigh Storr Company: BioSolar State: Queensland Status: Accredited Master Electrician What do you do to motivate and train your staff? At BioSolar we invest in bringing in the big guns – some of the best motivators and sales trainers in the world – to work with our teams. To date we’ve had staff participate in seminars and conferences by the likes of Tony Robbins, Jordan Belfort and Tom Hopkins. What are your thoughts on climate change and Solar PV? I believe solar will exceed all industry predictions in the next ten years. Solar is already cheaper than coal at the retail end even without any subsidies, so it’s the most attractive solution to combating dangerous climate change. What’s actually driving solar uptake right now is not the incentives. The real reason over a million homes have installed solar and more are continuing to do so, is because of the rising cost of power bills. It’s a problem that is getting bigger and bigger every year the power prices go up. Tell us a bit about where you grew up. In a town called Warrnambool in South West Victoria. It’s a beautiful place, although a little cold and windy compared to South East QLD. As a child, what were your career aspirations? I knew that I would either be a professional sportsman, a jet pilot or running my own businesses. I’m still working on the first two! How did you come to be involved in the solar industry? I’ve been in renewables for the last 10 years helping energy retailers sell largescale renewable generation direct to the consumer as Green Power. Small-scale solar at the point-of-use was a natural progression for me. This led me to establish Biosolar in Queensland in 2010 with a team of three staff. Today, BioSolar’s head office is in Brisbane and we have a team of 200 staff! www.masterelectricians.com.au
Tell us about the growth of BioSolar. BioSolar commenced sales in August 2010 and installations in November 2010, the beginning of the three wettest months in Brisbane’s recorded history! However, we managed to pull through it and, by the end of 2010, BioSolar became a public unlisted company. Our start-up success in the marketplace enabled me to secure significant investor support which meant I was able to grow the business considerably faster and more professionally than would have been otherwise possible. Our focus on high quality saw myself and other owners of BioSolar purchase SunGrid, a contract solar panel manufacturer. SunGrid has a world leading quality control process for the manufacture of solar panels. We now have a team of engineers on the ground in China for ongoing product development and to directly oversee the QA on our production lines.
Australia is the most suited country in the world for solar. With one of the highest costs of power, it only makes sense that Solar PV will be the Hills Hoist of this decade. What do you find most rewarding about your job? Seeing the difference that our product and company makes to customers and staff. I believe it’s important BioSolar provides high quality products and services that will be here for the long term. This holds especially true with a product like solar, where it makes such a difference to the lives of homeowners and to the environment. What motto do you like to do business by? Think big and take massive action! How do you keep a healthy work/ life balance? Choose a living environment that you really enjoy coming home to and making sure you schedule holidays or they don’t happen!
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news from the distributors Ergon Energy
ROAMES flies high to map Ergon’s network
Aerial mapping of Ergon Energy’s vast regional Queensland network using state of the art technology will transform its asset and disaster management capability, a spokesman said. Chief Executive Ian McLeod said ROAMES (Remote Observation Automated Modeling Economic Simulation) used two specially modified Cessna aircraft fitted with laser scanners and digital cameras to map, photograph and inspect Ergon’s 150,000km network of powerlines. “The planes will fly over 600 communities and towns in regional Queensland every twelve months. Mapping has already commenced in many parts of the state and more recently in the north-west. The network from Townsville, Ingham and down to Shute Harbour has now been mapped and photographed,” he said. Mr McLeod said ROAMES will not only reduce costs in keeping vegetation away from powerlines and change the way Ergon manages its assets, but save the company millions of dollars and improve its disaster response. “In 2011/12, Ergon spent $94 million to manage vegetation that would otherwise pose a risk to the network or community safety. Using the ROAMES data, Ergon expects to save up to $59 million over the next five years and ultimately improve power supply reliability and community safety in regional Queensland,” he said. ROAMES will ultimately replace the need for a number of ground based vegetation and pole inspection programs as well as audits currently undertaken before and after contractors are sent into the field to undertake the work.
Waste heat recovery system in Carnarvon produces power for the first time
Enerji’s clean power project produced electricity at Horizon Power’s Carnarvon power station - a first for its energy efficient technology in Australia. The clean power project uses a waste heat recovery system with Organic Rankine Cycle technology to convert discarded heat energy from the exhausts of generators to produce additional, emission free electricity. Horizon Power agreed to trial the technology at the Carnarvon power station until the station is decommissioned when the new Mungullah Power station commences operations later this year. The clean power project exported electricity to the power grid in Carnarvon with an output of around 10 kilowatts (kW), which is expected to increase to 300 kW during the trial. www.masterelectricians.com.au
“Ergon will be able to use simulations to assist every area of planning, whether for a natural disaster or to forecast growth rates of a particular area,” he said. ROAMES has already been successfully trialled in disaster response this year. ROAMES has also commenced mapping and photographing south-west Queensland. Visit www.ergon.com.au for more information.
Horizon Power’s Manager Generation Projects Brett Whisson said Horizon Power was delighted to see the trial project produce its first power. “Horizon Power is proud to facilitate the trial of Enerji’s technology at our power station in Carnarvon and enable testing that is a first for Australia,” he said. “We are committed to supporting the development of energy efficient technology and look forward to this technology being developed and used for the benefit of many.” The Carnarvon pilot plant will be tested up to an output of 300 kW which is less than half the system’s full capacity due to timeframe of the host plant being decommissioned and the new Mungullah Power station commencing operation. At maximum capacity, the technology has the potential to generate up to 700 kW of electricity, an equivalent of powering 988 houses in Carnarvon, reducing reliance on gas and diesel and improving efficiency by up to 18 per cent. Visit www.horizonpower.com.au for more information.
LED streetlights on residential roads Australia’s first grid-wide roll out of LED streetlights has begun, under plans being put to more than 40 local councils throughout Sydney, the Central Coast and the Hunter. About 10,000 LED streetlights would be installed each year under the proposal, saving councils millions of dollars in maintenance and energy costs over the life of the LEDs. “We have tested these lights to make sure they use less electricity and are easier to maintain,” Ausgrid Energy Efficiency expert Paul Myors said. “We are meeting with councils to go through the detail of the proposal. However, we know it will save them a significant amount of money, without
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compromising on the quality of an important community service. “Under the roll out, when a standard light on a suburban street breaks, it will be replaced with a super efficient LED.” The LEDs would be assembled and supplied by the Central Coast based company Sylvania Lighting. The majority of streetlights in residential areas use between 46 and 95 watts and require regular globe replacement however the LEDs that Ausgrid trialled use as little as 29 watts. The lifespan of LEDs is expected to be over 20 years, so Councils will pay less for maintenance as well as power. The trial has been conducted by Ausgrid over the past 18 months at eight locations in Sydney and the Central Coast. It was designed to test actual energy use, performance under Australian conditions and response from residents and motorists.
Results so far show: • Electricity use reduced by up to 70 per cent, depending on what type of light was replaced • Short term maintenance is minimal • Residents prefer the light output of LEDs Councils have expressed interest in LED streetlights through the trial. Residents have also told Ausgrid they prefer the LEDs in terms of brightness, colour and light distribution. The trial included replacing a mixture of mercury vapour and fluorescent lights with three different types of LED streetlights. A total of 62 lights were replaced across the eight different locations and results were dependant on the mixture of the lights replaced and the type of LED installed. Visit www.ausgrid.com.au to view a summary of the public lighting trial and for more information.
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Citipower and Powercor
Victorian electricity distributors deliver consumers value
New research shows Victorian residential electricity consumers pay significantly less for their network charges than customers in other jurisdictions. The research concluded that in Victoria, network-related costs (excluding policy-related smart meter charges and feed in tariffs) make up only 30 per cent of the average household electricity bill, compared to a range of 45 to 50 per cent in other states and territories. The study by energy sector experts Oakley Greenwood, on the ‘Causes of Residential Electricity Bill Increases in Victoria, 20012012’, found that, while household electricity bills have increased by 28.4 per cent, (after accounting for inflation) from 2001 to 2012, standard ‘poles and wires‘ distribution costs in Victoria have decreased in real terms during this period, softening the scale of bill increases. The study also showed that Victorian households pay less for their electricity than their northern counterparts. The report analysed residential electricity bills across Australia between 2001 and 2012 and calculated the contribution of each component of the supply chain to customer bills and price increases. The findings showed Victorian electricity distribution businesses are delivering services more cost effectively than their interstate
counterparts and recent claims that ‘poles and wires’ are driving up electricity bills are inaccurate with respect to Victoria’s privatised model. The Victorian distribution businesses are conscious that customers have faced significant electricity price rises over the past few years. However, they believe that, in the near future, the platform established in Victoria via advanced smart metering technology and introduction of flexible tariffs will enable electricity consumers to have more insight into their electricity consumption habits. This will enable them to make more informed choices and save money. Visit www.powercor.com.au for more information.
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Look Up and Live Campaign: Living and working safely near powerlines
Although powerlines may look the same, they vary in voltage. How close you can operate near powerlines depends on the powerline’s voltage, as well as weather conditions. High temperatures can also cause powerlines to sag lower, reducing safety clearances under and beside the powerline. Don’t forget that a new piece of equipment or machinery may be of a different size and present risks that an older one may
not. You should never work on top of a vehicle and load up while underneath or near a powerline, as it can inadvertently reduce the minimum clearance distance. Be especially aware if you are at an unfamiliar site, at night or with vehicles and equipment. Powerlines and clearances It is important to always remember to check the clearance required. Never guess at minimum clearances as appearances can be deceptive. You should also never try to measure clearances by touching powerlines or using devices such as tape measures, because even without making actual contact with a powerline, serious injury can result. In an emergency If you or the vehicle you are operating come into contact with a powerline, remain in the vehicle until the power is switched off and keep movement to a minimum. If you have a mobile phone available, you should contact Emergency Services on 000 or 112 from your mobile, and advise them of the incident as soon as possible. Detailed information about how to calculate minimum safety clearance and tips on what to do if you come into contact with a powerline is available at www.electranet.com.au or on 1800 413 331 (toll-free). Email your postal address to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject ‘Electrician’ for a free Emergency Instructions sticker for your vehicle.
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regulator wrap up the latest state news from regulators
Electrical Safety Office
Changes to Electrical Safety Laws Amendments to harmonise the Electrical Safety Act 2002 (the ES Act) with the Work Health and Safety Act (WHS Act) will come into effect on 1 January 2014. The amendments do not significantly change requirements for electrical safety in Queensland. The new ES Act will adopt terms and concepts from the WHS Act. These changes include: • Duties are subject to ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’ (by reference to the meaning of ‘electrically safe’ and ‘free from electrical risk’). This is consistent with the concept of as low as is reasonable achievable. A new proactive duty on executive officers consistent with the duty imposed under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011
• Electrical safety enforceable undertakings requirements consistent with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 • Inspectors have similar powers of entry, seizure and investigation for the purposes of ensuring compliance with electrical safety legislation • A new range of sentencing options for the courts, including adverse publicity orders, restoration orders, electrical safety projects, injunctions and training orders • A new statutory notice, non-disturbance notice will be available to allow inspectors to secure an incident scene • Persons seeking an external review of a decision can now apply to Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) rather than the industrial court. For more information on changes to Electrical Safety Laws, visit www.justice.qld.gov.au or call the Electrical Safety Infoline on 1300 650 662.
Review of home building legislation
The NSW Government has undertaken a broad and comprehensive review of the NSW Home Building Act 1989 to ensure the Act is operating as efficiently and effectively as possible. A Position paper has now been released setting out the Government’s key proposals for reform to the Home Building Act. The reforms have been informed by an extensive consultation process that took place from July 2012 and included a broad range of stakeholders. There are 50 proposed reforms and the Position paper outlines all the reforms, providing additional information about the key proposals. These include: • Clarifying the definition for structural or major defects • Consolidating licensing provisions to provide for consistent considerations • Amending requirements to streamline and rationalise home building contract requirements • Establishing a public register of home warranty insurance certificates • Renaming the home warranty insurance scheme to better reflect its purpose and how it operates • Introducing an expert determination model, which will aim to identify the technical issues in dispute early in the process. As part of this work the better regulation principles will be applied to any developed proposal for reform. The Government intends to introduce legislation to give effect to the reforms later in 2013. If approved by Parliament it is expected the reforms will commence in mid-2014. For more information, visit www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au
Energy Safe Victoria
• Removed ambiguity of earthing requirements when erecting or dismantling overhead conductors
Updated Code of Practice (the Blue Book 2012)
• Changed Safe Approach Distances – Special • Training electrical operators, a new provision for trainees was inserted into the list of “Persons Authorised to Operate High Voltage Electrical Apparatus”
ESV has updated the ‘Code of Practice on Electrical Safety for Work on or Near High Voltage Electrical Apparatus’ (the Blue Book). Some significant changes to the Blue Book include:
• Introduced a concept of “equipotential work zone” when earthing overhead conductors
• Arc flash protective clothing is added as accepted personal protective equipment
• An approved alternative to Sanction For Test procedure is allowed if the approved procedure achieves the same or better safety outcome
• The requirement for annual review of authorisations is removed, however a person’s authorisation shall be current for the task being performed
• A new subsection introduces safety rules for vegetation management work near overhead lines by nonelectrical workers who are employed or engaged by organisations other than power companies. Owners and operators of electricity supply networks, high voltage electrical installations, and complex electrical installations are required to comply with the Blue Book. Recognising industry needs time to train, ESV has decided that the Code of Practice on Electrical Safety for Work on or Near High Voltage Electrical Apparatus published in 2005 has been superseded by the 2012 Blue Book which was published on 1 April 2013. For more information, visit www.esv.vic.gov.au
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regulator wrap up EnergySafety
To contact the Relevant Network Operator:
Reporting accidents and incidents in WA
The Electricity (Licensing) Regulations 1991 require that all electric shocks and accidents (including electrical fatalities), irrespective of their seriousness, must be reported to: • The employer (if relevant), and • The relevant network operator (supply authority). If the person making the report cannot identify the network operator, the fact must be reported to EnergySafety. When the incident is reported to the employer, the employer is also required to report the occurrence to the relevant network operator (or EnergySafety if the network operator cannot be identified).
• Western Power: 131 351 • Horizon Power: 132 351 • Rio Tinto: 1800 992 777 • BHP Billiton Newman: 1800 677 639 • BHP Billiton Nickel West: 9026 5262 Electric shocks and accidents that are to be reported to EnergySafety should be telephoned using Freecall 1800 678 198 (all hours, from anywhere in Western Australia). During business hours, the calls are diverted to EnergySafety’s Cannington office (08) 9422 5200. Outside of business hours, the calls are diverted to an after-hours answering service. This freecall number only applies to incidents, accidents and shocks that occur within Western Australia. Note: All electrical fatalities must also be reported to EnergySafety. For more information, visit www.energysafety.wa.gov.au
Reliable LED dimming The NEW 2 wire LED dimmer from Hager Lowering energy consumption continues to be a priority for many home owners. The introduction of LED lighting within the home is becoming more prevalent as the cost savings are clearly obvious. Compatible with a wide range of reputable LED lighting manufacturers, the NEW 2 wire LED dimmer from Hager offers a reliable and efficient solution.
Office of the Technical Regulator
Rescue and Resuscitation Regulation 68 of the Electricity (General) Regulations 2012 now requires persons who carry out, or help in carrying
out electrical work, to be suitably trained in rescue and resuscitation in accordance with the requirements of the Technical Regulator. The new Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 administered by SafeWork SA require an electrical safety observer to hold a 12 month’s competency in rescue and resuscitation. To ensure consistency and that high standards of response are maintained
in the event of an electrical incident, the Technical Regulator will also require electrical workers to maintain a 12 month’s competency in rescue and resuscitation. This requirement took effect on 1 December 2013, and to align with current changes to standards, codes and guides this change will be mandatory from 1 June 2014. For more information, visit www.sa.gov.au/ot.
The Master Electrician
How do you R&R? Even sparkies need some rest and relaxation! We’re sure many of you will be taking advantage of the fantastic Summer weather to get in some downtime with family and friends. Send us your best Summer getaway pictures and be in the running to win your spot at Master Electrician Australia’s (MEA) 2014 Industry Conference being held at one of the best Summer getaway locations – the beautiful Palmer Coolum Resort on the Sunshine Coast! To get your vacation juices flowing, check out what shenanigans MEA’s very own Safety and Technical Officer in Victoria, Andrew Deagan, got up to during a couple of his favourite getaways.
W spot in you r 2014 at MEA Con Indust ’s wortferencery h $2,0 over 00. in acco cludes regi mmo s trati dati o ts fo on and e n, r on e pe conomy rson *.
“That’s me on the lookout atop Mount Buffalo. I was on my honeymoon in Bright, a beautiful alpine country in Victoria. I had been to Bright plenty of times, but on that day myself and my wife Kate decided to do a lovely day trip to the Mount Buffalo lookout and we encountered a lovely surprise – some early snow fall at the end of April!”
“Kate and I took a lovely five-day jaunt to a lonely, serene billabong near Nagambie in Victoria as a nice, quiet getaway. I downloaded a camping app on my phone that showed all the free hotspots to camp in, and this was one of them that we decided was too beautiful to pass up on. As it was the end of August, nobody was around and we had the place all to ourselves!”
Send in your images to magazine@ masterelectricians.com.au with the subject title “Summer getaway” along with your name, job title, company, telephone number and 25 words about your summer getaway, and you could be enjoying a getaway to the Sunshine Coast on us! Entries will be posted on MEA’s Facebook page, and the image with the most number of likes wins*! Note: Images must be high resolution (at least 1MB). Entries close on 10 January 2014.
*Terms and conditions apply. Visit www.masterelectricians.com.au for full terms and conditions.
letter of the law
Porn in the workplace The Fair Work Commission recently ruled in favour of three Victorian workers who made unfair dismissal claims, after they had been sacked for sending explicit material at work.
The postal workers were caught
using the Australia Post email system to distribute sexually explicit material around their workplace. The Fair Work Commission (FWC) considered the three terminations to be unfair because the postal centre had not taken any action to deal with prior inappropriate workplace behaviour that had developed over many years. What does this mean for employers? The case is a wakeup call to all employers, including contractors, to have a set of behaviour standards in place, properly convey them to their workers, and enforce them consistently across the workforce. In response to this decision, workplaces should consider tightening their policies about the use of their business email
systems. Solid ground rules should be set, stating that the sending of such material is serious misconduct and repeated offences could lead to dismissal. Although this specific case involved the office email system, the same principles could be applied to the situation of workers sending sexually explicit material to each other via their smartphones during work time. Policies involving the use of mobile phones, laptops and other such equipment during working hours, should also be scrutinised by employers, and then consistently enforced across a workplace. No ‘green light‘ to porn in the workplace Employees shouldn’t regard the FWC’s ruling as a ‘green light’ for sharing
this type of material in the office email system. Rather, the distribution of explicit material doesn’t seem to be regarded as unacceptable to the social norms, in the way theft from the workplace is usually regarded as an automatic sacking offence. If you’re unsure about whether your workplace policies adequately address the above issue, or any other workplace matters, contact McKays Solicitors for advice and assistance to steer your business in the right direction. This article was contributed by McKays Solicitors. For further information on how the FWC’s ruling might affect you, please contact McKays. Ian Heathwood – (07) 3223 5942 email@example.com
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Josh Nicholls Joshua Nicholls started Australia’s fastest growing franchised electrical company Platinum Electrical when he was just 22-years-old. Josh shares his road to success story.
You’re a young qualified electrician who already has 19 years experience. Tell us about how your electrical career began. When I was young I dreamed of being a chef because it was the only subject at school I got a B grade in. I was not academic at all and I knew that Year 11 and 12 was not an option for me. I did work experience with a family friend who was an electrician and really enjoyed it. So my parents told me to pull out the yellow pages book and start ringing every electrical company until I found one that would give me an apprenticeship. So that’s what I did, and not long afterwards I started my electrical apprenticeship at 15 years old after completing Year 10. I started with a local electrical contracting company and stayed with them for seven years before I started Platinum Electrical. They are the only employer I’ve ever had. The electrical industry is varied in the work and experiences it offers, what is it you enjoy most about your trade? Breakdown repairs! I enjoy the satisfaction of successfully finding a solution for a client in a high-pressure environment. When a machine breaks down, an engine fails or a whole plant is down, clients are losing thousands of dollars every minute. You need to be able to find a solution and as quickly as possible. It brings me great satisfaction knowing I’ve not only just solved a problem and done my job but also helped them get back on their feet. Now that I’m a CEO I’m extremely passionate about growing people and growing businesses. I enjoy empowering others to lead. The feedback I receive from my franchisees is that they appreciate how transparent I am with them; integrity is a huge core value in Platinum.
“I enjoy the satisfaction of successfully finding a solution for a client in a highpressure environment. When a machine breaks down, an engine fails or a whole plant is down, clients are losing thousands of dollars every minute. You need to be able to find a solution and as quickly as possible. It brings me great satisfaction knowing I’ve not only just solved a problem and done my job but also helped them get back on their feet.”
That can certainly be seen with Platinum Electrical’s success as Australia’s leading and fastest growing franchise company. How did you come up with the concept for such a successful company? Originally I started Platinum Electrical as single ‘man in a van’ business servicing my local area. When Platinum Electrical continued to grow I knew I needed to change my business structure. When the company had a successful growth rate, lots of media attention and a collection of business awards I decided to turn it into a national brand. I attended a business seminar in New Zealand and realised a franchise model suited my leadership style extremely well and was an intelligent way to grow the Platinum brand. Platinum Electrical is now a network of business owners that are passionate and driven to grow their business to get off the tools, firstly, and then potentially out of the day-to-day operations. Did you expect the business to grow to be as successful as it is today? Starting the business 11 years ago at 22 years of age, there is no way I envisioned Platinum Electrical would be a national brand. However, since launching our franchise model five years ago the growth has not been a surprise. I knew what we offered and the culture created would make the successful franchisee applicants raving fans. With every success though there are difficulties. I have always had a vision bigger than my bank balance and have had to
work around that. I’ve had to learn to understand the financials and to give debt the respect it deserves. Platinum Electrical has a strong commitment to the ‘One Van One Child’ Program. How did Platinum Electrical become involved in this? ‘One Van One Child’ is our philanthropic initiative we started with World Vision. Our commitment and goal is that one child is sponsored for every Platinum Electrical van on the road. We have a dedicated community in Zambia, Africa where all our sponsored children are from. We are making a huge impact in this community. One of the core drivers for me in business is to give away a lot of money. The bigger the Platinum brand becomes the more opportunity I have to bless others. As the Platinum Electrical network began expanding I wanted to create a program that was relatively small and achievable for each individual, but collectively had a huge impact. So we approached World Vision with our idea and they loved it. Within a month of launching the program other businesses have joined the initiative. What are the core business ethics that Platinum Electrical abides by? • Communicate, communicate, communicate! Any issue can be resolved with honest communication.
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• 5 star service – Near enough is not good enough when it comes to business professionalism. • Integrity – Everything in platinum is above board and is about being extremely honest and truthful • A healthy work-life balance • Constantly learning – if you’re not learning, you’re going backwards! What does the future hold for yourself and Platinum Electrical? I’d like to be more involved with charitable organisations and give back as much as I can. At Platinum Electrical we’re working on building a stronger brand presence within Australia to increase franchises. Once we’ve established a strong brand presence here in Australia then we will enter the international market. How does a successful CEO wind down? I like to cycle 50km each day in my Master Electricians Australia branded kit! I take my Harley for a ride, burn off steam at the gym or on the surf board, and spend time with my amazing wife and three children. What part has Master Electricians Australia played in your business? MEA has been a great partnership for us. It has been a strong brand alliance that brings further goodwill to the Platinum Electrical brand. MEA has also been invaluable with providing industrial relations support. The Master Electrician
Camera lens travel mug
XD Design – Solar window charger
Dual SIM case for iPhone 4
When out and about, a travel mug often does the trick but lacks in appeal and multifunctionality. This is where the camera lens travel mug comes in. It has an extremely realistic lens flask which at first glance, could easily be mistaken for the real thing!
This solar powered charger is perfect for using on the go in the car, as well as in the office or at home to charge your mobile phone or MP3 player. At a compact 11cm high x 11cm wide and weighing just 95g, it is easily attachable to any window but can also be used near a window, when laid flat.
Tired of having to lug around one phone for work and another for personal use? Take a look at this clever case which can carry two SIM cards at the same time.
With a capacity of approximately 440ml, the travel mug is perfect for holding hot or cold drinks at the right temperature. The fake lens grip makes it easy to keep hold of the flask and helps seal in the heat to avoid burning fingers.
It comes with a full-size USB port for charging a connected device at 5V (500 mA) and a mini-USB port to charge up its own 1400mAh lithium battery in three hours. An LED status indicator glows red when receiving charge, and turns green when the onboard battery is full.
The screw-on lid (lens cap) acts as a handy mini plate, ideal for placing biscuits or other small nibbles on. Simple yet effective! RRP $29.95 Visit www.latestbuy.com.au for more information.
Designed for use with the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S models, the dual SIM card case houses two SIM cards, which can be switched between at the push of a button. It supports micro as well as normal-sized SIM cards and the sturdy case offers protection against bumps and scrapes.
The unit has over-charge and short circuit protection built in.
As well as avoiding having to answer work-related calls in your down time, it’s an ideal case for frequent travellers who may use different SIM cards depending on the country they are in.
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RRP $49.95 Visit www.latestbuy.com.au for more information.
InstalTest Combo Single & 3 Phase Multi-Function Tester for All Your Electrical Installation Testing and Verification.
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Single & 3 phase installation testing to AS/NZS3017 covering earth continuity, insulation resistance, polarity, correct connections, fault loop impedance and RCD testing.
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Beacon Lighting – Airfusion Climate II DC Fan Airfusion Climate II DC fans are designed with revolutionary DC (direct current) technology, which uses 40 per cent less electricity than traditional AC (alternating current) ceiling fans. Powered by a precision-balanced DC motor which is housed in a sleek, streamlined body, Airfusion Climate II DC fans use less energy to keep the fan rotating, which also makes them one of the quietest fans on the market.
Aldora Electric Company – CLIXX The patented CLIXX concept from WISKA is the faster alternative to cable glands. It can save up to 75 per cent in installation time compared to standard cable glands, significantly reducing labour costs. CLIXX is ideally suited to a wide range of applications particularly in installations with tight spaces.
It has a six-speed remote control that allows speed change and the option to switch to reverse mode.
CLIXX can replace cable glands in standard installations. It offers the same clamping and sealing ranges at a high ingress protection degree of IP 66 / 67 and also meets AS 60529, is UV resistant and has passed testing for strain relief as per EN 50262 (Type A).
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Lumitex Ltd – Barricade downlight The Lumitex Barricade offers unprecedented features in energy efficient LED lighting. It contains ultra-low level dimming, a patented draught and an insect and dust barrier, allowing it to complement the modern, energy efficient home or business. Despite providing a high luminous output, the Barricade can save up to 70 per cent in energy usage and costs. It is locally designed for Australian conditions, and comes with a Fast-Fit driver holder, which allows the Barricade to be installed from within the room and through the ceiling cut-out. Visit www.www.lumitex.com.au for more information.
The Master Electrician
It’s AS/NZS 3001 time again With the festive holiday season approaching, caravans, motor homes and ‘camper trailers’ will be brushed off in readiness for a long anticipated summer break. As with any equipment brought out of storage, the owner would be wise to visually inspect the condition of the structure and identify any equipment showing wear and tear. When this type of work is presented to an electrical contractor, AS/NZS 3001:2008 (Incorporating Amendment No 1) is the standard used to apply over and above AS/NZS 3000:2007. It is important to understand that there are special requirements applying to portable structures. Double pole switching of installed equipment is just one difference to AS/NZS 3000:2007. The reasoning behind having an additional standard is due to the hazards associated with the use of extension leads to supply power, and the potential damage to electrical components over time and due to transportation. A brief summation of the standard is explained below. Section 1 includes the scope and general information. When considering the application of AS/ NZS 3001, it is important to use the Scope of the Standard to clearly identify if the transportable structure falls under the jurisdiction of AS/NZS 3001. There are situations when a building is manufactured in a factory environment, to be delivered to a site that will be connected to a supply www.masterelectricians.com.au
permanently. This type of structure may not satisfy the scope of this standard and only AS/NZS 3000 would apply. AS/NZS 3012 requirements also apply to portable structures on construction sites.
• Socket outlets in caravan parks • Socket outlets in all other locations • Portable generator sets or inverters.
Also exempt are ambulances and other structures involving the delivery of medical services.
Service pillars in caravan parks typically incorporate a switchboard for the mounting of control devices for the socket outlets installed. Each site is required to have at least one socket outlet which is marked to identify which site it supplies. The socketoutlets are required to be individually protected by a separate circuit breaker that has a rating not more than the rating of the socket-outlet, plus protection against earth leakage by a 30mA RCD that operates in both the active and neutral conductors. The underground wiring supplying pillars (clause 2.2.2) in some circumstances needs to be at a depth greater than the requirements of AS/NZS 3000. Overhead wiring needs to be installed at a height of no less than 6m above the ground. Clause 2.2.8 sets out the construction requirements of pillars.
Section 2 states the specific requirements that are required for the transportable structures electrical supply including:
Supply to a transportable structure from socket outlets in all other locations must also have separate overload protection and earth leakage protection that operates in all live (active and neutral) conductors.
Clear examples under AS/NZS 3001 standard are caravans, motor homes, portable ‘dongas’ used as site offices, ablution blocks, canteens and sleeping accommodation. Exceptions to this would be structures that may have been originally constructed as a transportable structure, but are to be permanently located, such as buses, tramcars and caravans that have had the wheels removed and a permanent base installed.
Make sure that your socket-outlet has weather protection of not less than IPX4 and strain relief is provided to relieve the strain on the supply lead. The selection of the appropriate cable type also needs UV protection. Portable generator sets (AS/NZS 3010) or inverters (AS/NZS 4763) that supply a transportable structure can be either an isolated type or a type where an RCD is built into the equipment. Be sure to correctly identify the generation method as a generator and portable inverter can appear to look identical. No earth electrode is required or recommended in any of these supply arrangements unless overridden by a manufacturer’s instructions. Section 3 specifies the transportable structures electrical installation requirements. There are a number of different methods of connection to a transportable structure and in all methods, strain relief for the supply lead is required. In Australia, the overcurrent circuit breaker protecting the supply shall not exceed the maximum rating of the supply lead and must operate in all live (active and neutral) conductors. All final subcircuits must also be supplied overcurrent protection as well as RCD protection that operates in all live (active and neutral) conductors. Wiring systems in transportable structures must be multi-stranded. For example, you cannot use 1mm solid core wiring. All wiring must be protected from damage, fixed in place to limit movement and wiring systems operating at different voltages must be segregated as per AS/NZS 3000. Care must also be taken with the sizing of conductor amperages. AS/NZS 3008, Table 27.1 requires a de-rating when an ambient temperature exceeds 40 degrees C. As most walls and ceilings are heavily insulated and compact, the ambient heat in outback locations could
decrease the ability of the cable to sustain its ‘normal’ current rating. The installation can be supplied from either the mains supply or an alternative source (for example, a generator or inverter powered by solar panels or batteries. When one source is connected, the second source must be isolated with respect to all live (active and neutral) conductors. Figure 3.1 in AS/ NZS 3001 shows a typical connection of a transportable structure with a changeover device for an isolated generator or inverter. Figure 3.2 in AS/ NZS 3001 shows a typical connection of a transportable structure to an RCD protected generator or inverter. The protective earthing conductor shall be run as directly as possible and be effectively connected to eliminate the possibility of the connection becoming loose. Vibration due to transportation is common and an effective fixing solution may require the use of captive nuts or liquid thread adhesive. The following structures and equipment must be earthed and with the resistance test not exceeding 0.5 ohms: • Chassis or frame • Exterior shell • Window and door frames (where any part of the electrical wiring is within 100mm of a conductive structural member)
over-temperature cut-out for a water heater to operate in all live (active and neutral) conductors. Section 4 sets out the requirements for electrical installations in tents and non-rigid annexes. If one item is to be supplied, it may be connected to the site supply via an external socket-outlet and a cord extension socket or an outlet box. If more than one item is to be supplied then only an outlet box (see clause 4.4) supply can be used. Clause 4.3.2 sets out the requirement for multiple transportable structures occupying the one site. Figure 4.1 shows a number of different arrangements for supplying multiple transportable structures on the one site. It is prohibited to supply a transportable structure from a socket outlet installed in another transportable structure or to use double adaptors. Section 5 includes requirements for connection to the site supply. Any supply lead to be used in a caravan park should not exceed the relevant figure specified in Table 5.1 and shall be arranged so that it will not obstruct persons and is protected against mechanical damage. Leads should not be connected to the transportable structure if they are coiled.
• The earth contact of all socket-outlets
Appendix Appendix A – calculation of maximum demand
• Any other exposed conductive parts required to be earthed by AS/NZS 3000
Appendix B – provision of connection instructions for caravan parks patrons
• Equipotential bond is required for metallic piping.
Appendix C – is for NZ only
All switches in transportable structures shall operate in all live (active and neutral) conductors. Every permanently-connected appliance in a transportable structure must be controlled by a switch which operates in all live (active and neutral) conductors. In Australia, it is a requirement for the
It is essential when performing work on transportable structures that you have access to AS/NZS 3001. You can purchase a copy of the standard at www.saiglobal.com or members can call MEA’s Technical helpline on 1300 889 198 for further information. The Master Electrician
Workplace hangover Occupational health and safety law expert Aaron Anderson shares the highlights from his presentation at the MEA Industry Conference in Las Vegas, and reminds sparkies who can end up liable for workplace pranks.
The Hangover. Whether you’re talking about the results of a big night out, the critically acclaimed comedy film showcasing the crazy antics of a bachelor party in Las Vegas, or less than acceptable employee behaviour – one thing’s for certain – you’ll end up with a headache.
at each other and dangerous employee initiation pranks.
Aaron Anderson, a partner at Norton Rose Fulbright, took his extensive occupational health and safety law and injury claims experience all the way to The Venetian/ Palazzo Hotel to remind Master Electricians of the importance of proper OHS management.
As a veteran advocate who has successfully defended a number of prosecutions on behalf of clients, Mr Anderson says his key focus of the presentation was to make contractors aware that they can be found liable for the undesirable conduct of their employees.
“As we were in Vegas, we kicked off the presentation by taking a brief look at some of the antics of The Hangover movie and made a comparison to a number of legal cases where employee behaviour was found to be hugely inappropriate,” Mr Anderson says.
“The outcomes of numerous court cases have demonstrated that employers can be held responsible for inappropriate employee conduct including when workers are careless of their own safety,” he explains.
“Similar to the outlandish behaviour in the popular movie, there have been cases involving employees ‘planking’ at height in the workplace, firing nails out of nail guns www.masterelectricians.com.au
“By initially taking a light-hearted look at such behaviour, the presentation moved on to the serious issue of when an employer can be held liable for the conduct of their employees at work.”
“It’s recognised that employers cannot supervise the activities of employees 100 per cent of the time, but employers need to be vigilant in putting in place appropriate standards of conduct within their workplace.
“Business owners need to incorporate monitoring and supervision activities as part of regular business practices to ensure those standards are being met.” Mr Anderson recommends the following practical considerations: • Lead from the top – Demonstrate that safety matters and expect the same from your workers • Get your framework right – Develop a safety management system that works for you. Consider what the ‘nonnegotiables’ are for your business • Give your workers the chance to succeed – Spend the time to educate your workers on your expectations and system requirements and reinforce those requirements • Don’t assume people will always follow the rules – Monitoring and supervision is necessary. Incorporate this as part of business practices • Strive for continuous improvement – Learn from mistakes. Keep a look out for
industry issues and developments. Seek feedback from workers and change your approach to succeed! Mr Anderson says he’s received a lot of positive feedback on his presentation and Master Electricians Australia (MEA) members have shown particular interest in how they can seek to achieve compliance with their legal responsibilities. “It’s an objective of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 to ensure the safety within the workplace of workers who are fatigued, who are over confident in their skills and physical powers, who are inattentive in consequence of repetitive tasks or who
S U N O B * R E F OFroducts valued
are simply careless of their own safety,” he says.
taking steps to ensure you work in a safe environment.”
“Most electrical contractors recognise the difficulties associated with carrying out supervision and monitoring employee behaviour.
The Norton Rose Fulbright OHS team is able to assist MEA members with safety matters, including general compliance advice and responding to incidence or investigations by the regulator.
“The common theme between The Hangover movie and numerous workplace accidents involving unacceptable employee behaviour is stupidity. “There’s no cure for stupidity but you can set a good example by making sure all your employees are aware of proper health and safety procedures and by
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What next for the future of our industry? As we jump from one economic disaster to the next, nearly all contractors are doing it tough in the present business climate. But what does this mean for our local businesses and the economy? Jason O’Dwyer, MEA General Manager – Workforce Policy, tackles the issues Australian employers are faced with today. A host of economic and political issues impact strongly upon the way we do business and the decisions we make day to day in the running of our businesses. Amongst these global influences are a cautious Government, a prolonged lack of consumer confidence, and the Reserve Bank’s decision to balance the leavers of economic growth and international competitiveness. More importantly, we now need to take into consideration the very real possibility that over the next 20 years, China’s currency may soon become the choice of sovereign currency reserve rather than the US dollar. The world economy is potentially shifting to the start of the next economic phase and, as business owners in Australia, we must ask ourselves a crucial question – what effect will these global influences have on our businesses? Don’t forget – there are other factors that will affect our industry and business owners in the next 10 years. We have seen solar energy develop rapidly, the introduction of automation in mining and maritime procedures such as trucks, trains, port loading facilities, and a shift to LPG and the realisation that prefabricated construction modules are far more efficient than onsite construction. Our industry is in a state of constant change and this change is quickening. Master Electricians Australia (MEA) has, in the past, been extremely vocal in its opposition of the Federal Government’s introduction of National Occupational Licensing. With the direction this is currently headed in, MEA regards the Regulator Impact Statement (RIS) www.masterelectricians.com.au
as a race to the bottom in terms of licensing requirement and safety standards. The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has recently made a ruling to significantly increase junior and adult apprentice wage rates. In a training system that is more than 100 years old however, the system is failing to match the rate of change which is about to befall it. On 22 August 2013, a Full Bench of the FWC conducted a transitional review of Modern Awards relating to apprentices, trainees and juniors. The Full Bench issued the decision to increase junior apprentice wages and, for the first time, introduced adult apprenticeship rates across Australia. New adult apprentices over the age of 21 after 1 January 2014 will receive 80 per cent of the licensed tradesperson rate. MEA has always been a strong advocate for apprenticeship opportunities for the electrical, building, construction and wider industry sectors. Which is why MEA is very concerned about the impact this wage increase will have on our industry’s future and the future of apprenticeships. MEA believes the decision will significantly hamper the apprenticeship system and kill future opportunities for our industry. Key issues of the decision include: • Adult Apprentices (those commencing an apprenticeship and aged 21 or older) receive 80 per cent of the tradesperson rate (from 1 January 2014)
The world economy is potentially shifting to the start of the next economic phase and, as business owners in Australia, we must ask ourselves a crucial question – what effect will these global influences have on our businesses? • Junior apprentices having completed Year 12 to be paid 55 per cent of the tradesperson rate (as at 1 January 2015) • Junior apprentices not completed Year 12 to be paid 50 per cent from 1 January 2015 • Transitional Rates apply from 1 January 2014 • The employer is to pay for all books and resources required, and • The employer is to pay for travel and related expenses, in the event the apprentice is required to attend block release away from their regular place of residency.
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Many members of MEA are against the decision to increase junior apprentice wages and have contacted the organisation to express their concern and frustration, also indicating that they will no longer be engaging apprentices in the years to come. At the same time the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has quietly been reviewing the Vocational Education and Training (VET) System. The COAG National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development has detailed the following outcomes for the agreement with the majority of states. “Targets 22. The outcomes contained within the Agreement are ambitious with targets that are long term (out to 2020), national and aspirational.
a. halve the proportion of Australians nationally aged 2064 without qualifications at Certificate III level and above between 2009 and 2020;
b. double the number of higher level qualification completions (diploma and advanced diploma) nationally between 2009 and 2020”.
According to the National Skills Standard Council (NSSC) position paper released in March this year, the future of the VET system is set to be another example of federal centralisation. In summary, however, the aim of the ‘new’ system is to increase quality, transparent responsiveness, clarity, consistency and coherence in both content and form of qualifications. A significant drawback of the proposed model is that rather than Registered Training Organisations (RTO’s) being registered, they will now have to be Licensed (LTO) and comply with a standard set
The Master Electrician Spring 2013
48 of qualification frameworks set at a national level. MEA has seen the confusion and delay that occurs when national frameworks are not adopted by all states. If we examine why RTO’s were originally introduced, we see the same concerns: consistency of qualification, introduction of the Qualifications Framework, competency based assessment, teaching standards modalities and quality outcomes. So the question that has to be asked is will these changes result in better outcomes?
regulators move in different directions that are counter intuitive to producing positive outcomes for apprentices, tradespeople and ultimately, contractors. In comparison to other vocations such as nursing, which used to be aligned to an apprenticeship but has seen an evolution in the last 20 years, the electrical industry has been slow to progress.
Registered Nurses previously spent three years training with three months a year spent in block release and another nine The Vocational Education System (VET) has at least nine different months a year on the floor in practical stakeholders including Federal and hospital settings. Fast forward 20 years, and State Governments, public and private Registered Nurses now complete a three providers, trade unions and major year university degree with only 24 weeks of In comparison to other international corporations who utilise their practical experience. In addition, lower level vocations such as nursing, influence to swing the national training nurse classifications such as Enrolled Nurse which used to be aligned to an agenda to meet their very specific needs. and Assistant Nurse now have Diploma apprenticeship but has seen an So the net effect of all of these changes and Certificate level 3 respectively as their evolution in the last 20 years, and agendas will be: base qualification.
the electrical industry has been slow to progress.
• The industry regulations and safety may be lower
• Costs for apprentices will be higher.
The education sector, combined with a push for quality, ultimately leads to an increase in educational requirements, which in turn leads to higher entry and skills outcomes. As a direct consequence, higher wage claims arise. However a licence system that demands lower standards, not higher would seem to be the case in the electrical industry.
As a consequence, it is unlikely there will be the training or apprenticeships available to take advantage of these new skills and training. Why? Training organisations will be stuck delivering a trade qualification in the same manner they have done for the past 100 years while the industrial, safety, regulator and training
Whilst the industry has taken a small step to address this issue through a four year trial of a competency based qualification, there is a reluctance to trial other proposals in parallel. Multiple trials and formats would provide the best opportunity to develop responses that fit various industry and stakeholder needs within the industry.
• Training for the industry participants will be at a higher level possibly than what the regulation calls for, and
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49 Without action this drives us closer to: • Developing a skills shortage to an extent we have never before seen • Forcing Australia to rely heavily on importing qualified tradesmen from overseas to fill the gap left behind by apprentices • Presenting an unnecessary financial challenge on the majority of business owners, and • Putting the employment of existing and future apprentices in jeopardy. As an industry, all stakeholders need to actively, and with urgency, evaluate and consider multiple options that will not compromise safety, yet deliver better outcomes for employers and apprentices in years to come. Master Electricians Australia will keep members updated on any further developments on the apprentice wage rates. For more information or to provide feedback, call 1300 889 198 or email email@example.com
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The Master Electrician
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MEA RECOGNISES THE SHINING STARS OF THE ELECTRICAL INDUSTRY Each year, Master Electricians Australia (MEA) celebrates the best and brightest stars of the electrical industry, whose hard work and dedication have catapulted them to industry success. See which sparkies shone bright this year! National Apprentice of the Year Winners Award National Apprentice of the Year 3rd Year Apprentice of the Year 2nd Year Apprentice of the Year 1st Year Apprentice of the Year
Winner Dalton Pike Brendan Radley Michael Blanch Scott Heilbronn
Company Tradesmen on Time Excel Power TORGAS TORGAS
New South Wales Brightest Spark competition Winners Brightest Spark Safety Champion 1st Year Apprentice 2nd Year Apprentice 3rd Year Apprentice 4th Year Apprentice
Name Mason Bell, 18 Jonathan Carroll, 24 Russell Micallef, 27 Aaron Alam, 20
Company Demaher, Port Kembla Eraring Energy, Lake Macquarie Railcorp, Lawson Laser Electrical, Castle Hill
North Queensland Excellence Awards Winners Award Master Electrician of the Year NQ Business Woman of the Year Innovative Product of the Year Green Project of the Year Solar Installation Project of the Year Residential Project of the Year (Under $400K) Residential Project of the Year (Over $400K) Commercial Project of the Year Industrial & Mining Project of the Year Bob Cooper Award Apprentice of the Year – Highly Commended award 1st Year Apprentice of the Year 2nd Year Apprentice of the Year 3rd Year Apprentice of the Year – Highly Commended award
Winner i-LEC Solutions Patricia Elsden of Starr Electrics Linked Group Services ADP Electrical Horan & Bird
Project/Product N/A N/A Linked Solar Iso-cover Brothers Leagues Club (Innisfail) Good Shepherd Nursing Home
House on Lockton St, Greater Ascot
Steve Allan Electrical Horan & Bird Minelec Tony Divertie
29 Petrie Way, Fairfield Waters, Townsville Cannon Park Precinct in Condon EH Mining Site N/A
Jacob Hill of Torgas Inc
Scott Heilbronn – TORGAS Michael Blanch – TORGAS Kodie Jang – Jaysel Electrical & Instrumentation
N/A N/A N/A
Apprentice of the Year winner Dalton Pike (centre) with Minister Hon. John Paul Langbroek (left) and employer Chris Lehmann (right)
From left: Mason Bell – Demaher, Tosh Bourke – HPM Legrand, Jonathan Carroll – Eraring Energy, Malcolm Richards – MEA, Russell Micallef – Railcorp, Steve Allen – Lawrence and Hanson and Aaron Alam – Laser Electrical.
From left: MEA CEO Malcolm Richards, i-LEC Project Supervisor David Gartside, i-LEC director Phil Young and MEA QLD State Manager Stephen King at the MEA North Queensland Excellence Awards.
Apprentice sparky takes home national industry awards gold
NSW’s brightest sparks crowned
North Queensland sparkies shine at industry Excellence Awards
One sparky has outshone electrical
apprentices across the nation to claim the coveted National Apprentice of the Year award at a presentation hosted by Master Electricians Australia (MEA). Winner Dalton Pike from Tradesmen on Time, an Accredited Master Electrician, was presented the prestigious award by the Hon. John Paul Langbroek, QLD Minister for Education, Training and Employment at the Stamford Plaza. Dalton said the overwhelming support he received from mentors and the industry was crucial in helping him excel in his chosen career path. “I think my achievements have stemmed from hard work and constant support from Tradesmen on Time owner Chris Lehmann, my workmates, my SkillsTech teachers and Apprenticeship Mentor Claire Lasslet,” Dalton said. MEA CEO Malcolm Richards said the large volume of nominations received this year meant the judges had their work cut out for them in short listing and selecting winners. “Every year it’s a challenge to select the best of the best to champion the electrical industry and inspire apprentices to work hard and become the future of our industry,” Mr Richards said. The Apprentice of the Year Awards are proudly sponsored by long term partner HPM Legrand, who will provide both Dalton Pike and his employer Chris Lehmann with an all-expenses paid trip to their state-ofthe-art facilities in Prestons NSW, capped off by a dinner on Sydney Harbour with HPM Legrand and MEA Executives.
MEA CEO Malcolm Richards recently announced the winners of the New South Wales Brightest Spark competition at a presentation ceremony in Sydney. The top scorers of MEA’s online safety test from first to fourth year were crowned the brightest sparks at HPM Legrand’s manufacturing warehouse in Prestons. The competition allowed NSW electrical apprentices across the state to test their knowledge in electrical safety. MEA CEO Malcolm Richards said it was hoped the Brightest Spark competition would help to reduce the number of electrical safety incidents in the workplace. “We hope the Brightest Spark competition will help break the trend of practising bad electrical safety habits, and trigger apprentices state-wide to not only become more aware of electrical safety through testing their safety know-how, but also become more cautious and knowledgeable when working with electrics,” he said. Mr Richards said thousands of dollars’ worth of electrical equipment from Lawrence and Hanson and HPM Legrand had been awarded to the winning apprentices and their bosses.
NORTH Queensland’s best and brightest sparkies were acknowledged for their contributions to the industry at the recent North Queensland Excellence Awards held by Master Electricians Australia (MEA). A total of 14 awards were handed out to businesses and individuals who demonstrated outstanding achievements in the industry at the Gala Dinner held at the Jupiters Townsville Hotel and Casino. The coveted Master Electrician of the Year award was claimed by Cairns-based i-LEC Solutions, whose high standards in quality and safety highlighted the company’s professionalism and business leadership. i-LEC Director Phil Young said the company was stunned at being awarded the highly prestigious title of Master Electrician of the Year. “Being selected as a finalist against some reputable firms was reward enough, but to actually take the title was an amazing honour,” Mr Young said.
“Each budding young sparky has taken home a fantastic prize pack and we’ve made sure they stay in their boss’s good books by providing great prizes for their employers too!” he said.
MEA CEO Malcolm Richards said he was impressed at the hard work and dedication put in by award winners and finalists throughout the year.
“No one can afford to muck-around when it comes to electrical safety. Apprentices are the future of our industry and MEA is committed to championing safety, excellence and confidence in our sector.”
“Small businesses in our industry have been doing it tough lately and it’s heartening to see our sparkies in North Queensland are able to weather the storm and come out on top,” he said. The Master Electrician
all about ME Full steam ahead for MEA in Western Australia Master Electricians Australia’s (MEA) Perth office is now fully operational. Joining Tony Mancini (WA State Manager) and Alan McCallum (Safety and Technical Officer) we have Cassandra Armstrong (Member Services Team Leader) and Ross Arnold (Safety and Technical Officer), further boosting the capabilities of MEA’s support for its members in WA. This means the Perth office is now able to provide WA members with full on-the-ground support and technical advice between 6am and 5pm (WST), ensuring there is always a support network available for members in the state. MEA and Skill Hire have also reached an agreement to provide apprentice mentoring services in WA, and MEA is looking forward to working closely with Skill Hire to establish the popular ApprenticeConnect service in the state. The SafetyConnect program is also continuing to grow, with the MEA WA Team recently signing their 100th SafetyConnect subscriber. It’s full steam ahead for WA and MEA as a peak industry association! Watch this space for further updates.
WA State Manager Tony Mancini, Member Services Team Leader Cassandra Armstrong and Safety and Technical Officer Ross Arnold.
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New industry partnership creating global links A new partnership between Master Electricians Australia
(MEA) and one of the largest and most respected leaders in the US tool industry, Klein Tools, will see MEA create global industry links and grow the organisation’s international strengths. Klein Tools recently announced its pledge of $125,000 of tools over five years to MEA in Melbourne, and previewed its full product line to electrical executives in attendance. Klein Tools Vice President of Marketing Greg Palese, was also a speaker at the recent MEA 2013 Industry Conference held in Las Vegas, and showed his support of MEA’s training and safety initiatives in Australia. “Klein Tools is excited to be collaborating with MEA and to bring the number one choice of tools for professional electricians in the United States to Australian apprentices and Master Electricians alike,” Mr Palese said. “Together, I believe Klein and MEA will champion trust, safety and excellence in Australia’s electrical market.” MEA CEO Malcolm Richards said the partnership would bring with it a unique opportunity for MEA to extend its reach internationally. “There’s always something new to learn in our industry and by extending our reach internationally, MEA can bring better benefits
MEA VIC state manager Carl Rankin and Klein Tools’ David Klein.
and services to its members and to the industry as a whole,” Mr Richards said. Klein Tools is a designer, developer, and manufacturer of premiumquality, professional-grade hand tools. Established in 1857, the majority of Klein tools are manufactured in seven plants throughout the United States and are the number one choice of tools among professional electricians and other tradespeople.
The Master Electrician
VW Golf Cabriolet 118TSI With women increasingly taking charge of traditional male household decisions including choosing the family car, we thought it was time to look at a vehicle that appeals to our female readers, who really wear the pants! Test driver Sue McGraw reviews the small and stylish car that is turning heads.
“What if?” That’s the question I asked myself when I first saw the VW Golf Cabriolet. Sporting a deep purple almost black hide and matching black leather upholstery, that was it. The questions were gone and the Cabriolet had me at first sight. I did the first thing any lady would do in my situation. I put the top down. With my foot on the accelerator, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the Golf was to drive. Despite a tiny lag until the turbo kicks in, the car was off like a rocket in seconds. www.masterelectricians.com.au
The car cornered well with power steering that was made for a lady’s touch – not too heavy. The clever design of the multi-function steering wheel allowed me to select numerous functions such as the radio and Bluetooth, without ever having to take my hands off the steering wheel. It cornered well and feels light on the road with comfortable suspension. It has a sevenspeed DSG transmission which combines the ease of an automatic with the sportiness of a manual car, making gear changing easy and smooth. The dashboard is well thought out – easy to read and well
Ten minutes into my drive, I realise my mistake of putting the top down. Wind-blown hair! I also desperately needed the assistance of a hat and sunnies to fight the strong glare.
The front of the car displays handy storage options, including flock-lined door pockets and a dual cupholder and bottle opener hidden in the centre console by a seamless sliding cover. Despite another small storage box in the centre console which has an MP3 dock, disappointingly for a drop-top, it cannot be locked.
With this in mind, I put the roof back up and the interior transformed into a remarkably quiet space. The roof can be adjusted while driving or when stationary, which was a handy function to remember in case faced with a sudden downpour.
Other noticeable extras include – electric door mirrors, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity with audio streaming and rain-sensing wipers and a glove box that can be cooled, which could prove handy in the summer
lit at night. The dual zone climate control is a bonus and the automatic locking is a smart safety feature which automatically unlocks when you turn the car off.
months to avoid the chocolate melting or to keep your bottle of water cool. The front is spacious and the leather seats are very comfortable and supportive and can be easily adjusted. The rear seat entry is fairly convenient for getting in and out, however would only be comfortable for two adults on the small side. Storage is a little limited in the rear and when the roof is in place, visibility is actually quite poor. However the rear seat back does have a 50-50 split which in itself could be handy. Top up or down, there’s 250 litres of luggage space in the boot and that’s pretty roomy. On the downside, instead of a boot lid you get more of a portal which makes loading and unloading a backbending chore. Being a Volkswagen, it is no surprise the Cabriolet comes with an ANCAP rating 5. Standard safety equipment includes dual front and side/side airbags, plus a driver’s knee airbag, safety-optimised front head-restraints, ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist as well as anti-slip regulation and electronic stability/traction control.
VW Golf Cabriolet Specs • 1.4L twincharged petrol engine • Max power 118KW@5800rpm • Max torque 240Nm@1500–4000rpm • 4 seat cabriolet • Roof opens in 9 seconds • 17” Seattle alloy wheels • Active roll over protection system • Dual zone climate control air conditioning • 5 Star ANCAP safety rating • Media Device Interface (MDI) and Bluetooth® phone connectivity Full specs are available on the VW Australia website vokswagen.com.au Priced from $42,447 driveaway.
All in all, a car that is compact and stylish, the VW Golf Cabriolet 118TSI certainly seems built for a lady.
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The Master Electrician
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Powerpoint not making the cut! An electrical contractor was contacted by a lawn mowing company who were in the process of cutting the grass on a property that had not been mowed in a long time. The person mowing the lawn heard a loud bang and realised he had driven over a 240V cable that had been laid across the grass to the ‘outdoor’ power point. The power point was protected by a circuit breaker but not a safety switch. The electrician disconnected the cable and power point then trenched a cable in a conduit and installed a weatherproof power point and installed a safety switch. Thanks to Grant from ComSpark Pty Ltd in Morley in WA, $50 is on its way. Send your entries to email@example.com for your chance to win.
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The Master Electrician
the last word
Quality is the question The recent Infinity cable debacle is a stark reminder that not everything for sale in major retailers is automatically safe and built with quality. Under an increasing internet threat how can our industry ensure the equipment we install will perform and be safe for our customers? I, like many people enjoy the advantages of the internet and a new global economy that makes it easy to purchase many products easily from anywhere around the globe. But is this a safe avenue when it comes to electrical products? Do other countries have the same standards and expectations as weÂ do? We have a reasonable expectation that the regulators of our country generally get it right and inform us should any items come up short of the mark. Many of us were completely surprised to find out that something as significant as TPS cable does not have to pass any tests to be legally sold in Australia and furthermore, without the diligence of some of our long term quality providers checking competitorsâ€™ products, how long would this product have been sold before the regulators found it?
One has to ask if leaving out the expensive elements in the formula that gives the cable the durability in hot environments was a mistake or taking advantage of a loose regulatory system. So as quality installers and advisors to our customers, how can you protect your business and reputation from this threat? How can you be sure the products you purchase are safe and support your business quality? The best advice I can offer is to develop a long term relationship with a reputable electrical wholesaler. Never before has there been such a need to have a partner researching and delivering to you only quality products, and also to have an agent to talk to manufacturers and importers on your behalf should a product fail in the future. Avoiding the price temptation of the internet and some low price retailers may save your business a lot of headaches in the future.
quality companies that stand behind their products and services. In the meantime I will be lobbying hard with state and federal regulators to improve their vigilance and the system to ensure they work together for a safer outcome.
At Master Electricians Australia, we have made a firm decision only to associate ourselves with quality providers and to recognise the true value of wholesalers to our industry. In partnership with us I hope you will join us in dealing with only
MALCOLM RICHARDS CEO
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With seven million premises to be connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN) across the country, there has never been a better time to gain new skills and be part of the largest infrastructure project in Australia’s history! To prepare electrical contractors and their workers, Master Electricians SkillsConnect now offer a range of NBN Co approved courses designed specifically for those wanting to work on the NBN construction and operations activities. These include:
NBNATC1201A - NBN safety awareness NBNAcc13002A - Install, commission and maintain a fibre Network Termination Device (NTD) NBNAcc13004A - Prepare, splice and enclose ribbon fibre NBNAcc13008A - MDU cabling and hardware installation – Brownfields NBNAcc13012A - Survey and report underground network NBNAcc13015A - Install underground service drop
Contact SkillsConnect today to discuss how you can invest in your business and organise training so you can tap into the work opportunities being created by the NBN. Visit www.masterelectricians.com.au/training Phone 1300 889 198 Email email@example.com
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