By Lucas Bowles, ECA(SA) Regional Director, East/South Cape

Lucas Bowles, ECA(SA) Regional Director, East/South Cape

Part 2 of the frequently asked questions (FAQS) from members in the Eastern Cape, which have been answered by the East/South Cape Regional Executive Committee. The questions asked by members in this region are also being asked by members countrywide and the answers are shared for the benefit of the electrical contracting industry in South Africa.

Q: What are my rights if I am employed as a domestic subcontractor on a project?

A: The short answer to this question is that you have no rights and are in a similar position to that of a painter, bricklayer or plasterer employed as domestic subcontractors by the builder. If you have quoted to a builder to do electrical installation work for a specific price, the only right that you have is to be paid that sum of money on completion of your work.

That is why it is critically important for you as a subcontractor to sign some form of contract, which would regulate the time of completion of your work, progress payments, variations and most importantly, resolution of disputes which invariably happen during the course of a project.

The ECA (SA) has designed a simple small works contract document, which provides at least the above rights, and which may assist in resolving a problem which would otherwise have to be referred to a lawyer at great costs.

Q: How do I deal with a situation where the client expects me to allocate a certain percentage of my project to an SMME contractor?

A: From enquiries directed to the office by members who had been involved in these types of projects, the answer to this question is not simple. It would need patience and particularly consultation with all the parties involved to ensure a smooth and trouble-free project.

The main contractor will normally appoint an SMME Project Manager who only deals with SMME contractors. The different packages will be discussed with all the SMMEs for the different trades. Names of potential SMME contractors will be provided by the local authority, or invitations will go out to the local Ward Councillors to bring forward possible options of contractors in that Ward. They are issued with a BOQ and Scope of works and need to price it as they would for any other work under normal procedures.  They will be appointed if the price is reasonable and they comply with all the requirements.

The Ward Councillors also sit in on project meetings these days. If there are problems with SMMEs then it gets discussed openly. It must be noted that the SMME company also needs to comply with all statutory bylaws.

Corrective action is required to be taken by SMMEs in cases of default or non-compliance.

Q: When do I terminate the services of an employee who has been declared unfit to work at heights or to climb stairs?

A: The Code of Good Practice: Dismissal (Schedule 8) under the LRA provides for an employer to dismiss such employee if:

  • There is conclusive medical evidence available to confirm his incapacity/disability;
  • There is no alternative work available in the business;
  • The employer is unable to secure alternative employment elsewhere for the worker; and
  • There is no likelihood of adapting the duties or work circumstances of the employee to accommodate his disability.

Q: May I act as host employer to a learner on a registered learnership programme?

A: Yes, on condition that there is a contract that stipulates who is responsible for Workmen’s Compensation, PPE, wages, overtime, etc.

Q: Is the ECA(SA) going to work closer with AIAs in the future to ensure that we, as members, understand their testing and inspection procedures?

A: Some of the ECA(SA) offices in the different regions have built up an informal working relationship with the AIAs. There are differences of opinion on how close the relationship should be.

Q: Must I protect a 380 V sauna with earth leakage?

A: There are no specific requirements in Regulation 7.3 of SANS 10142-1 which require earth leakage protection to be installed in a sauna.

Q: Can I use a generator to test a dwelling in order to issue a CoC?

A: Yes, if the generator is going to be the permanent supply. If the generator is only a temporary supply you can only issue a CoC, by using the permanent (municipal) supply.

Q: Can I connect a bathroom type fan to the light fitting in a bathroom?

A: The extractor fan, whether it be in a bathroom or not, is an appliance and must be installed as such.

Regulation of the SANS 10142-1 Ed 2 states:

The power supply to every fixed appliance, except luminaries, shall be supplied through

  1. a disconnecting device that disconnects both live conductors in a single-phase supply and all phase conductors in a multiphase supply, or
  2. a socket-outlet that is directly accessible at all times that any person is exposed to such appliance while the supply is on. In the case of a remotely installed appliance, the position of the disconnecting device shall be indicated by means of a notice in close proximity to or on the appliance.

The circuit then must be labelled on the DB as a ‘mixed circuit’.

Regulation 6.1.11 (a) permits the use of the short length of cabtyre from the isolator to the appliance solely for purposes of connection of moving parts (fan).


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