ILLEGAL, UNSAFE ELECTRICAL PRODUCTS PRESENT SIGNIFICANT RISK TO USERS
It is a sad reality that in South Africa there are millions of sub-standard, unsafe electrical products on offer and, in contravention of compulsory specifications, are nevertheless installed in residential, commercial and industrial buildings.
Despite these stringent compulsory specifications, which are intended to protect users, there are some unscrupulous and negligent suppliers who sell these sub-standard, unsafe products even though they present significant risk to the people who buy and install them.
Injury, death, electrocution
Non-compliant products can fail, causing injury and even death due to fire or electrocution.
Safe, compliant products often require specialised materials: specially selected metals and metal coatings; strict manufacturing processes, including stringent testing; and ongoing proof of conformance. All in all, these measures add to the cost, even for relatively simple products, such as plugs, for example.
It is often difficult to distinguish a safe electrical product from a dangerous one, therefore significant differences between prices of products offered should be a warning sign. Low prices might mean compromised quality and reduced safety, and this has often proved to be the case. The location where the products are sold, combined with low prices may also be a warning of possible sub-standard quality.
The SAFEhouse Association’s members are committed to the manufacture and supply of safe products and, when in doubt, look for the SAFEhouse logo on product packaging.
The sale and installation of electrical products are governed in South Africa by the following:
- The National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications Act No 5 of 2008, which covers the sale of products and applies to electrical products, including those for fixed installations such as sockets, plugs, adaptors, and cord extension sets;
- The Occupational Health and Safety Act No 85 of 1993, which covers the use of products in fixed installations such as socket outlets, wall switches, stove isolators, and circuit breakers. This Act also prescribes the Wiring Code (SANS 10142-1) for the wiring of fixed installations in the work environment.
- The Electrical Installation Regulations, Government Notice R242 March 2009, which sets out the regulations applicable to domestic, commercial and industrial installations. All the components used therein must comply with the Code of Practice for Wiring of Premises, SANS 10142-1, which also covers the installation approval process for the issuing of Certificates of Compliance (CoCs) for new and existing installations.
In the interests of safety, the SAFEhouse Association has produced a series of comprehensive yet simple guides that provide guidance on understanding how certain electrical products work, what compulsory specifications apply and how to guard against using dangerous products.
- A SAFEhouse Guide to the Regulation of Electrical Products
- A SAFEhouse Guide to Electric Cables
- A SAFEhouse Guide to Luminaires
- A SAFEhouse Guide to Surge Protection
- A SAFEhouse Guide to LED Lighting
- A SAFEhouse Guide to Miniature Circuit Breakers (Part 1)
- A SAFEhouse Guide to Electrical Installations (The Electrical Certificate of Compliance)
Visit the SAFEhouse website www.safehousesa.co.za and download free copies of the guides. Some printed guides are also available from the ECA(SA) Highveld region.