If you own, rent or use a property that is electrified, and certainly if you have recently bought or sold such property, then you will in all likelihood have encountered the potentially contentious document known as the Electrical Certificate of Compliance. You may not, however, necessarily know what this document means and what rights and duties the possession of such document confers upon you.
According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, as read with the Electrical Installation Regulations and the SANS 10142-1 (formerly SABS 0142-1) Code of Practice for the Wiring of Premises, you as the user or lesser of an electrical installation shall have a valid Certificate of Compliance. The term electrical installation refers to all the wiring, distribution boards, socket outlets, light points and switches and all other items required to electrify your home, shop, office, factory or any other such fixed property. It does not how ever refer to any item that is plugged into a socket outlet such as appliances, stoves, fridges, TV’s etc.
The Regulations define installations as running from the point of control (where the installation can be switched off by the user) to the point of consumption (such as a socket outlet).If the design of the installation was finalised after 1992 then it is incumbent on you have a Certificate of Compliance. If the installation predates this, then a Certificate of Compliance must be obtained if the property gets sold, or if any amendments or alterations to the installation are effected.
If the installation predates any Code of Practice, then the accredited person has to satisfy himself that the design and condition of the installation is reasonably safe. Whilst the duty is on you to have such Certificate of Compliance, it is not you (unless you are an accredited person i.e. various categories of “electrician” registered with the Department of Labour) who can issue such certificate. For that you require the services of an electrical contractor. The Electrical Contractor will either be, or will employ, an accredited person who has the necessary training and knowledge to test and inspect the installation, effect any remedial work that may be necessary, and then issue the Certificate of Compliance.
In order to ensure that the installation is compliant, the accredited person has to perform a thorough inspection of the electrical installation and perform a number of tests to ensure that the integrity of the installation is intact, it complies with the applicable safety standard and that it is reasonably safe for you the user. If the accredited person finds faults on the installation then good practice would suggest that such contractor advises you as the user or owner and, after obtaining permission and agreement on a price, affect the necessary repairs in order that he or she may then certify the installation reasonably safe.
Please note that once a Certificate of Compliance has been issued, any further alterations, even such as an extra light or plug installed, a Certificate of Compliance will need to be issued for that part of the installation by the relevant electrical contractor.
Justin de Reuck is a qualified Installation Electrician, who is registered with the Department of Labour and is fully up to date with all the latest regulations and amendments according to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, as read with the Electrical Installation Regulations and the SANS 10142-1 (formerly SABS 0142-1) Code of Practice for the Wiring of Premises.