Lucas Bowles, Regional Director, East/South Cape regularly compiles a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) from the region’s members. The Regional Executive Committee then meets to compile the answers to the questions – and these are presented at members’ meetings. The questions asked by members in the East/South Cape are being asked by members countrywide and these are shared for the benefit of the electrical contracting industry in South Africa.

Q: So many training providers want me to send my employees for training. How do I know which training providers are legitimate?

A: Training and trade testing in all industries in South Africa were decentralised many years ago in terms of government policy. As a result, the concept of a centralised trade testing organisation referred to by many people as COTT no longer applies.

It has been replaced by a system of sector education and training authorities (SETAs), that have been empowered to accredit training providers and trade test centres. Strict criteria are applied before accreditation is granted and the important question to ask when approached to register for a specific training course or skills programme is: Is your training accredited?

Any training provider who offers a particular training course should easily be able to confirm whether or not such training has been accredited. Non-accredited training is, unfortunately, a waste of time and is therefore not recommended.

All training providers must be registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and very strict quality control measures must be complied with before accreditation is granted to a service provider. The QCTO has assumed responsibility for the issuing of Trade Test Certificates in terms of Section 26 (D) 4 of the Skills Development Act.

Q: What is the relationship between the ECA(SA) and the ECB?

A: There is currently no formal relationship between the two organisations. Up to 2012, the ECA acted as an agent for the Electrical Contracting Board (ECB) to register electrical contractors in South Africa and to provide those contractors with Certificates of Compliance. When the Department of Labour took over the function of registering electrical contractors in the country, the ECB’s role as the registering authority ceased.

The ECB thereafter changed its name to the Electrical Conformance Board but its role and function in the electrical industry is unclear. The ECB is currently presenting courses on the Wiring Code and other safety standards applicable to the electrical industry. The ECB also sells CoCs to Industry.

It is important not to confuse the ECB, NBCEI and the ECA(SA) with each other.

  • ECA (SA)

The ECA is a voluntary employers’ association that provides a variety of benefits for its members. The ECA plays a vital role in the electrical industry and, apart from the Union, we are the only other party to the bargaining council where we determine the rules. The ECA(SA) is party to the setting up, writing and amending of the safety regulations (SANS 10142-1).

The ECA(SA) has a direct relationship with the Department of Labour (DoL). While some may deny it, the ECA(SA) has a ‘big voice’ and calls most of the shots in terms of the electrical contracting industry.


It is compulsory to be registered with the National Bargaining Council for the Electrical Industry (NBCEI) if you employ workers in the electrical contracting industry. The bargaining council acts as the ‘referee’ between the employers and the employees.

It’s critically important to do the right thing – that is to register your employees. It is not just the law, it’s the morally correct thing to do. The levies and contributions you think you are saving by not registering someone is going to look and feel like a bargain if an employee dies on site.

  • ECB

The ECB has absolutely nothing to offer you that the ECA cannot.

Q: Must ECA(SA) members support ECB training seminars?

A: It would appear that the ECB’s main source of income is derived from the presentation of courses. There are many training providers offering training on a wide range of topics that affect the electrical contractor. Be careful of ‘supposed’ benefits. Some training providers say that course attendees receive the latest Code for ‘free’. You are still paying for it, which is evident by the amount charged for the course.

The ECA(SA) provides its own training – both technical and management – and members are free to decide which service provider they would like to support. Legally, there is no requirement to attend ECB training. We would, however, prefer our members to rather support the Association that they belong to. By supporting the ECA training – even if some courses may work out marginally more expensive – the money stays in the Association, which really means that ECA members benefit, directly and indirectly.

Q: What is the reason for having to protect geysers with an earth leakage protection device?

A: Unfortunately, the SANS Committee that authorises the changes to the Wiring Code does not provide reasons or motivation for any amendments that are agreed upon by the Committee. As an Association, we like many other people could therefore only speculate on the reason for such a drastic decision. It is important for members to bear in mind that the cost of this amendment must of necessity be for the customer and therefore it serves no purpose to ask for the reason of such amendment. The reality is that, for safety reasons, the law requires all new installations after 15 March 2017 to comply.

Q: Which block on the CoC do I tick for a brand-new installation where I am required to carry out additional work – ‘New’ or ‘Existing’?

A: Existing – as it is a supplementary certificate being added to the original certificate – The original certificate is still valid for the part of the installation it was issued for.

More info:           Lucas Bowles on +27 (0)41 364 0162

Email:                    adminpe@ecsasa.co.za


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