Certificate of Compliance: CoC
Electrical Certificate of Compliance inclusive of all the legal details that all Electricians, Property Owners, Buyers and Property Agents should know.
Unfortunately, confusion reins as many people simply do not understand the law, and many more have an opinion on the matter that has no credibility as to the facts. In order to clarify the issues I will attempt to go back to the basics and explain the requirements as they stand as at December 2010.
Where do you start
When you contract an Electrician ask him for a copy of his Wireman's Licence, and a copy of his Wireman's Board Registration Certificate,
don’t let him just show some paperwork that in any event will mean nothing to you. When you have these copies phone your national office of the Electrical Contractors Association and check that you are dealing with a Registered Electrician. Most important is to check the electrician’s credentials before any work is undertaken on your property.
How does someone become a Registered Electrician
When someone decides to become an Electrician they would need to pass an aptitude and medical test. If successful they would then have to sign up as an Apprentice Electrician and serve a minimum of three years of practical experience in the Electrical Trade, normally the Apprentice Electrician serves five years as an Apprentice.
During this time the Apprentice Electrician would have to enrol at a technical college and pass a minimum of National Technical Certificate 3 (NTC 3), the subjects must include Mathematics, Science, Technical Drawing and Electrical Trade Theory.
When the Electrician has passed his (NTC 3), he would then be allowed to do his trade test at Olifantsfontein.
If successful the Electrician would then be known as “Qualified”, but he would not be a Licensed Electrician. To become Licensed Electrician,
a Qualified Electrician would have had to write and pass an exam on “Electrical Installation Regulations”.
When all this is done and the Electrician has served the appropriate time and passed all the examinations and Trade test the Qualified Electrician will be issued with a Licence from the Department of Labour.
If the now Qualified and Licensed Electrician wants to work as an Electrical Contractor he must further register with the Electrical Wireman's Board
as a Registered Person. Please note that this registration must be redone every year.
As a Registered Person this Electrician can now issue Electrical Certificates of Compliance (CoC). No other person other than a Registered Person is allowed to issue Certificates of Compliance.
There are three categories of a Registered Person.
A. Electrical Tester, who can work on a Single Phase installation Basically a normal house supplied with 220 Volt electrical supply
B. Installation Electrician who can work on a Three Phase installation. Normally buildings and factories supplied with 380 Volt three phase supply
C. Master Electrician for Hazardous Locations, basically petrol stations, mines, flammable areas.
An Electrical Tester cannot issue a (CoC) for a Three Phase installation. An Installation Electrician can issue a (CoC) for a single phase installation but not a Hazardous Location, and a Master Electrician can issue a (CoC) for any of the above installations.
You now know what a Registered Person is. He is not simply someone that has a good idea of what to do, and he is certainly not a “Handyman” that professes to be a “Jack of all Trades”
What are “Electrical Installation Regulations?”
As stated before, part of the qualification process is that an Electrician must pass the exam on “Electrical Installation Regulations” these regulations are actually the “Bible” relative to how an electrical installation shall be installed.
These regulations are the “Code of Practice” for Electrical Installations namely, The South African National Standard SANS 10142 - for The Wiring
The latest version was approved in November 2009. The code contains some 358 pages of rules and requirements inclusive of information and guidelines.
SANS 10142 is concerned with the basic safety of Electrical Installations. To ensure the protection of people, animals and property and the proper functioning of a fixed electrical installation, the aim is to ensure that protection from hazards that can arise from the operation of an electrical installation under both normal and fault conditions.
An electrical installation has to provide protection against
- Shock Current
- Over Current
- Fault Current
- Over voltage
- Under Voltage
- Excessive Temperatures
- Electric Arcs
If any of the above arises, the protection should automatically disconnect the supply or limit currents and voltages to safe values. In the case of under voltage, the protection should ensure that dangerous situations due to the loss and restoration of supply (for example to a motor) or due to a drop in voltage cannot occur.
The code only covers the electrical installation and the circuits feeding fixed appliances, but does not cover any appliances, for example stoves, geysers, air conditioning and refrigeration plant.
What makes the Electrical Installation Regulations Law
The Occupational Health and safety Act, 1993 (Act No. 85 of 1993) (OHS Act), which is administered by the Chief Inspector of Occupational Health and safety of the Department of Labour, requires that electrical installations comply with the requirements of SANS 10142. It also requires that a registered person, as defined (Master installation electrician, installation electrician or electrical tester for single phase), will issue a Certificate of Compliance together with a test report.
The certificate shall be in the form of the Certificate of Compliance published in the Electrical Installation regulations, 2009 and the test report shall be in the form of the test report published in the Electrical Installation regulations, 2009.
What is a Certificate of Compliance?
The Certificate of Compliance (CoC) is a declaration by the registered person that the electrical installation has been carried out in accordance with the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993 and the regulations hereunder.
It is important to note that if you have a valid (CoC) it must be kept at the premises that the (CoC) relates to .In many cases they end up with Estate Agents, Conveyancing Attorneys or Banks.
If the (CoC) is valid and work is done to the system after the (CoC) was issued, a new (CoC) must be issued BUT only for that part of the installation where additional work was done to the electrical system. The additional (CoC) must be filed with the original and kept on hand if and when required by any inspection authority.
If any part of an electrical installation does not comply, the registered person cannot issue a (CoC)
No alterations are permitted on a (CoC)
Only a registered person my issue a (CoC)
What is a Test Report?
The Test Report contains all the specific details of the electrical installation. It is a comprehensive record of exactly what forms part of the installation inclusive of specific tests in relation to readings and test instruments used. The test report should further contain diagrams and if necessary photographic evidence of the installation as tested.
The test report must accompany the (CoC)
Who must have a Certificate of Compliance?
According to Regulation 7 (1), of the Occupation Health and Safety Act, 1993, every user or lessor of an electrical installation, as the case may be shall have a valid (CoC) accompanied by a test report, in respect for every such electrical installation.
In simple terms every property owner or alternatively person renting a property must have a valid (CoC), furthermore should an inspector of the Department of Labour or supply authority or approved inspection authority request the (CoC) a valid (CoC) must be produced.
There is only one exception that if the installation existed prior to October 1992 and there have been no additions or alterations to that installation, and it has not changed ownership since 1 March 1994, then no (CoC) is required. Provided that if there was any change of ownership or any addition or alteration to the electrical installation after March 1994, the user or lessor as the case may be, shall obtain a (CoC) for the whole electrical installation.
Selling Property and the role of the Certificate of Compliance
The (OHS) Act goes further to state that no machinery (an electrical installation is defined as machinery) may be sold unless it complies with the prescribed safety requirements. The (CoC) is the only accepted and endorsed proof of that compliance.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act has always determined under Section 22 that a property cannot be offered for sale unless a valid (CoC) is in place.
Section (5) of the new Electrical Installation Regulation (R242) 6 March 2009, further states that the validity of a (CoC) cannot exceed (2) two years, therefore it is the responsibility of the User or Lessor of an electrical installation to ensure that the (CoC) is not older than two years.
The (CoC) document has been formulated by the SABS, with stakeholder input, and accepted by the Department of Labour as being indicative of the safety standards to be applied. For this reason, the majority of property sale agreements stipulate that a seller must provide the buyer with a valid certificate of compliance.
A seller doing so can be comfortable that the electrical installation is safe and compliant, in turn giving the buyer comfort and assurance that all is well with the electrical installation. It’s to the advantage of the agent as well to know that their will be no delays in processing the offer to purchase and transfer documentation.
It is recommended that an inspection of the property be carried out before buying or selling process to ensure there are no surprises later on. A seller may claim that no alterations were done to the electrical installation and that their (CoC) is valid, but the truth is that even minor electrical work such as fitting a ceiling fan, new oven, extractor fan, new light fittings or replacing faulty plugs can render an existing (CoC) null and void.
A home buyer or a lessor can now insist on seeing a valid (CoC) upon their viewing a property for sale or rent and before they sign any agreements or Offer to Purchase.
Senior legal sources within the Department of Labour have confirmed their intention of cracking down on AGENTS and SELLERS who contravene the law.
Sectional Title Property and the Certificate of Compliance
When a person buys into a sectional title property the buyer needs to additionally establish if a valid (CoC) is also in place for the “common” property, covering, lights, gate motors, pool pumps and any other electrical equipment that forms part of the “common” property.
Should the “common” property not have a valid (CoC) the Body Corporate can be held criminally liable should there be any incident related to the electrical system on the “common” property.
Rental Property, Lodges Hotels and Caravan & Camping Sites
It is a legal requirement that if you are renting any property that encompasses an electrical installation that such an installation must have
a valid (CoC).
Letting agents are known to “slip in” clauses that make the electrical installation the responsibility of the tenant. Please be aware of this and read your contract carefully.
When it comes to Lodges, Hotels, Caravan and Camping Sites the facility concerned must have a valid copy of the (CoC) for each room or site, the tenant or guest is entitled to request a copy of the (CoC) prior to taking occupation of the room or site. Advertising and or marketing of an establishment that is non compliant, will be in breach of Section 22 of the Act. There is a possibility that The Tourism Grading Council as well as AA Recommended Destinations will have to be re accredited taking the requirements of The Occupational Health and Safety Act into account.
Requirements relative to Certificate of Compliance and Selling Property
These new regulations will have a huge implication on the Real estate industry. It will mean that AGENTS seeking mandates from property sellers will have to request an up-to-date (CoC), if they want to stay on the right side of the law.
Nobody including agents may market a property that does not have a valid (CoC)
Sellers and Buyers would be well advised to use their own registered electrician to supply a (CoC)
The Buyer will be able to report both the Agent and the Seller to the authorities if the property is being marketed without a certificate.
It must be noted that an insurance claim resultant from a fire or injury caused directly or indirectly by negligence and non compliance to the requirements of the Act, may result in the claim being repudiated.
It is advisable to have the plumbing also certified, but that is another domain altogether, however it has been common practice for plumbers to interfere with the electrical wiring when replacing geysers, very often the (CoC) is invalidated by their actions. THEY ARE NOT QUALIFIED ELECTRICIANS,IF A PLUMBER REPLACES YOUR GEYSER ASK HIM FOR A ELECTRICAL CERTIFICATE FOR THE REPLACEMENT OF THE GEYSER
Geysers must now be fitted with a drip tray.
TV Aerials and Satellite Dishes
Many people do not know that it is a requirement of SANS 10142 that TV Aerials and Satellite Dishes must be earthed. TV Aerials and Satellite Dishes, do form part of the electrical test and should they not be earthed a certificate of compliance cannot be issued.
Replacement of Lights Fittings and Socket Outlets
Please remember that when replacing any part of your electrical installation you must ensure that such replacement items comply with the relevant SANS codes, many spares that are available from the large hardware wholesalers are cheep imports that do not comply to South African Standards, light fittings are particularly suspect when it comes to compliance. Ask your supplier for proof that the item complies with South African standards.
What is an Independent Electrical Inspection?
An Independent Electrical Inspection checks the legal validity of your electrical installation and will identify the following:
1. If any of your electrical circuits are overloaded.
2. Find any potential electrical hazards in your electrical wiring.
3. Identify any defective electrical work.
4. Highlight any lack of earth conductors and bonding.
5. If your Certificate of Compliance (CoC) is valid.
6. If your electrical installation complies with SANS 10142.
The benefits of an Independent Electrical Inspection
1. Your electrical installation is checked by registered professionals.
2. Should your electrical installation comply we supply a new Certificate of Compliance (CoC) at no additional charge.
3. You receive a full test report to the SANS code in relation to the electrical installation.
4. You receive a full report inclusive of estimated costs to remedy any transgressions.
5. If a (CoC) is supplied, your electrical system will be uniquely sealed to reveal if any tampering has taken place.
6. Any new Certificate of Compliance (CoC) will be registered with the Electrical Contracting Board and tracked going forward.
7. Peace of mind knowing exactly the status of your installation.
Understanding Your Legal Responsibility
The Occupational Health and Safety Act determines under Section 22 that a property cannot be offered for sale unless a valid (CoC) is in place. Section (5) of the new Electrical Installation Regulation (R242) 6 March 2009, further states that the validity of a (CoC) cannot exceed (2) two years, therefore it is the responsibility of the User or Lessor of an electrical installation to ensure that the (CoC) is not older than two years.
A home buyer or a lessor can now insist on seeing a valid (CoC) upon their viewing a property for sale or rent and before they sign any agreements or Offer to Purchase. Senior legal sources within the Department of Labour have confirmed their intention of cracking down on AGENTS and SELLERS who contravene the law.
When a person buys into a sectional title property the buyer needs to additionally establish if a valid (CoC) is also in place for the “common” property, covering electrical installations feeding, lights, gate motors, pool pumps and any other electrical equipment that forms part of the “common” property. Should the “common” property not have a valid (CoC) the Body Corporate can be held criminally liable should there be any incident related to the electrical system on the “common” property.
These new laws will have a huge implication on the Real Estate industry in South Africa. It will mean that estate agents seeking mandates from property sellers must request an up-to-date (CoC), if they want to market the property and stay on the right side of the law. A potental Buyer will be able to report both the Agent and the Seller to the authorities if the property is being marketed without a valid certificate of compliance. The same procedure must be followed in the case of rental properties.
In closing it must further be noted that an insurance claim resultant from a fire or injury caused directly or indirectly by negligence and non compliance to the requirements of the Act, may result in the claim being repudiated.
The Legal Facts
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (No 85 of 1993) as amended by the Occupational Health Safety, Amendment Act, No. 181 Of 1993 inclusive of the new Regulations As Gazetted No R242, (6th March 2009) sets out the legal status relative to Electrical Certificates of Compliance (CoC). It is most important that anyone including Electricians, Property Owners, Purchasers and Agents understand the law with respect to all legal obligations when it comes to an Electrical Installation, inclusive of the following:
1. Every User or Lessor of an electrical installation must have a valid Electrical Certificate of Compliance (CoC)
2. The User or Lessor may not allow change of ownership, if the Electrical Certificate of Compliance (CoC) is invalid or older than two years.
3. No person shall sell or market in any manner whatsoever a property unless it has a valid Electrical Certificate of Compliance (CoC)
4. No person may amend an Electrical Certificate of Compliance (CoC)
Many estate agents in South Africa simply do not understand what the legal requirements are with respect to the new law. When a property is offered for sale many estate agents do not inform the seller of their responsibilities with regard to the law and certificates of compliance.
This often leads to desperation from all sides and invalid documentation is lodged. When the new owner moves into his property he starts discovering that the electrical installation is not compliant.
Electricians who very often are not registered, have been found over the past decade to be issuing invalid certificates of compliance.
The only way to ensure that your electrical installation and certificate of compliance is legal and valid is to engage an Independent Electrician that is properly qualified and registered to conduct an Independent Inspection.
The validity of the electrical installation, even if installed very recently is not guaranteed to be compliant unless it has been installed by a competent licensed and registered electrician who would have supplied a valid (CoC) to prove compliance.
The problem is that it is assumed that the documentation is legal and that the installation is compliant. The only way to be sure that the electrical installation is indeed, compliant and that the (CoC) is valid is to have the electrical installation independently checked.