ANSWERING THE QUESTIONS THAT CONTRACTORS’ ASK FREQUENTLY
By Teshent Sookdeo, Technical Advisor, ECA(SA) KwaZulu-Natal
I have found that there are some questions that electrical contractors ask frequently – and, in this month’s article, I list some of these questions and provide the answers.
For how long is an electrical Certificate of Compliance valid?
An electrical Certificate of Compliance (CoC) is valid indefinitely for the installation it has been issued for provided that the electrical installation has not been altered in any way. Thus, maintenance items and changes and alterations are excluded. However, it is important to note that when a property has been sold an electrical certificate can only be transferred if the certificate is less than two years old.
As the registered person, can I issue a Certificate of Compliance without the details of an electrical contractor having been completed?
All electrical CoCs are required to be issued according to the specific requirements of the Electrical Installation Regulations incorporated under the OHS Act. These regulations state that no person is allowed to conduct electrical work as an electrical contractor unless that person is registered with the Department of Labour.
You are required to complete the portion of the CoC and provide details of the electrical contractor before the certificate can be issued.
The only exception would be where there is no ‘contractor’relationship, e.g. where the registered person is employed by the same entity that owns the installation that the CoC is issued for. In such cases the section ‘Declaration by electrical contractor’ can be marked ‘Not Applicable or ‘N/A’.
Has the Certificate of Compliance been reduced to a single page?
A simple answer to this question is ‘no’. There has been a revision to section 5.5 of the standard yellow form, however, currently there is no intention of reducing the CoC to a single-page document.
There is a shortened version of the test report under development, but it will only become a reality after the process has been concluded and it has been published in the code.
Can I issue a Certificate of Compliance for a house that was sold after the publishing of SANS 10142-1, edition 2, if the geyser has not been installed onto the earth leakage unit?
Yes, a CoC can be issued under the new codes of practice with the geyser not being protected by earth leakage, as the installation is required to be certified “compliant to the basic safety principles of the prescribed safety standard (SANS 10142-1), and be reasonably safe when properly used, and tested with the edition of the standard that was applicable at the date of construction”.
I have conducted work at client’s premises and the client cannot produce the original CoC document; can I issue a CoC only for the extension that I have installed?
If the electrical installation existed prior to 23 October 1992 and there has been no change of ownership after 1 March 1994, the user of the property is not required to be in possession of a Certificate of Compliance. When alterations have been effected within an electrical installation the user is required to obtain a CoC for the entire electrical installation.
It is advisable to obtain the original CoC prior to the commencement of work within an existing property. Should the CoC not be available, the electrical contractor should advise the client about the costs involved in making the electrical installation compliant to the latest standards in order to prevent a dispute between the contractor and the client.
Am I required to label every electrical point within an electrical installation?
SANS provides the minimum requirements for labelling as per table 4.2. Clients have created their own labelling standards that require electrical contractors to indicate the details of the relevant electrical device. Client specifications can only overwrite SANS standards when the specification is above the minimum safety requirements stipulated within SANS standards.
Can I relocate the main switch of an electrical distribution board from the inside of a kitchen cupboard to a passage located directly behind the kitchen?
When renovating their homes, many homeowners cover the distribution boards as they don’t want the distribution board to be in sight. However, when issuing a CoC the electrical contractor is required to ensure that the emergency control reference of SANS is complied with. All disconnecting devices are required to be easily recognised and effectively and quickly operated; allowing the isolator to be moved into a position that is more suitable or affixing in a conspicuous position a label indicating the position of the DB, as prescribed in subclause 5.3.8.f) of the code.
What is the required conductor size when protection devices are installed within a distribution board?
Requirements for surge protection devices are outlined as per the guidelines in Annexure I of SANS 10142-1. When there is surge protection within a distribution board, the minimum cross-sectional area of the bonding conductor shall be equal to that of the phase conductor up to the maximum size specified by the manufacturer, however, the minimum cable size that is allowed to be installed is 6 mm² and the maximum length of 0.5 metres.
The client has requested that I exclude a portion of the house as “it is going to be renovated”? Can I issue the Certificate of Compliance and exclude the area to be renovated?
Never assume that renovations will be done based on a homeowner’s verbal undertaking or even a written agreement. Sometimes, the client wants to save costs by saying that the house is going to be renovated and, when the new owner finds that the house is not compliant and calls the Department of Labour or an AIA, the electrical contractor is called back to rectify areas of the house that were going to be “renovated”. Should the homeowner indicate that they intend to renovate, the best practice is to disconnect all electrical apparatus within the area to be renovated before issuing the CoC, and ensure that it is clearly indicated in the CoC which parts are covered, and which are excluded and disconnected. Comments in this regard must be captured in the commentary space provided in the Test Report.
More info: Teshent Sookdeo on +27 (0)31 312 6313