What you need to know about the Electrical industry and why.
Most of us have heard of or have had something to do with a
COC (otherwise known as a Certificate of compliance or electrical certificate
to some people). But very few of our customers realize the weight of the
document. And as such we have decided to dedicate an article to the impact of
the electrical industry regulations on the public.
Before we can dive into what a COC is and what it certifies, we first need to understand who may issue a COC, and what the prerequisites are. Over the last decade the industry has seen a vast growth in “electricians” who trade without the proper due diligence, qualifications, and accreditations. To become an accredited Electrician capable of providing the customer with a legally valid COC a person must have completed the following according to the South African National Standad
“A person wishing to trade in his or her own capacity as an electrician shall have at least a N3 certificate in Electrical engineering, a red Seal indicating that he or she has completed their trade test, a valid wireman’s license and finally be able to register with the Department of Labor.”
Most newcomers in the industry believe that once they have completed the mandatory 2 years before trade test, as well as passing the trade test that they are now licensed to trade, however, this is far from the truth. A person with a red seal / trade test is only qualified to work as a senior artisan under the direct supervision of a person holding a valid wireman’s license.
But what does all of this mean for the consumer?
It means that the consumer is now, more than ever at risk of becoming a victim of negligence. Consumers who opt to use the services of these unlicensed individuals expose themselves to a whole cascade of possible damages. But allow me to explain by means of an example we had to deal with not too long ago.
A short while ago I got a call from a client saying that there had been a fire in one of his properties and that the insurance company is now requesting that he resubmit a copy of his COC before they consider his claim. This person not knowing any better, had renovations done to a house on the property house by a young upcoming “Electrician” who, as it turned out, was not licensed to do so. This meant that the installation as stipulated in the original COC no longer resembled the reality of the installation, meaning that the entirety of the installation was now technically non complaint. Because we as accredited electricians need to specify every light, plug, switch, isolator, and circuit breaker on the COC it is easy for an inspecting party to do a reconciliation of the entire installation. The South African National Standard (SANS) regulation states that any additions, or alterations to an existing installation shall be documented and attached to the original COC after being signed off by an accredited person. Failure to do so will result in the original COC being declared void in its entirety and with it, any electrical related insurance the consumer might have.
So, what is a COC?
By simplified definition: a certificate issued by a registered person as proof that a specific electrical installation complies with the Electrical installation Regulations.
As defined by the Occupational health and safety act:
certificate of compliance” means
(a) a certificate with a unique number obtainable from the chief inspector, or a person appointed by the chief inspector, in the form of Annexure 1, and issued by a registered person in respect of an electrical installation or part of an electrical installation; or
(b) a certificate of compliance issued under the Electrical Installation
Who can issue a COC and how to find the right person.
According to Electrical Contractors Association:
“Only a Registered Person, employed by/on behalf of a registered electrical contractor may issue a CoC after he/she has inspected and tested the electrical installation and found it to be reasonably safe. If any fault or defect is detected in any part of the electrical installation, the Registered Person must refuse to issue a CoC until that fault or defect has been rectified. Any CoC that has been fraudulently issued by an unregistered electrician is illegal and invalid and could endanger the lives of people and pets and damage or destroy property.” ( https://ecasa.co.za/member-support/frequently-asked-questions-about-electrical-certificates-of-compliance-and-the-answers/ )
And as per the occupational health and safety act:
“(2) Any person who does electrical installation work as an electrical
contractor shall register annually in the form of Annexure 3 with the chief
inspector or a person appointed by the chief inspector.” ( https://electrical-compliance-certificate.co.za/certificate-of-compliance/electrical-certificate-of-compliance/ )
Finding the right person: It is not only the privilege of the consumer but his or her right to ask any person trading as an Electrician to produce proof of their registration as an electrician. This can be done in various ways, most of the time an electrician will have a copy of his/her wireman’s license as well as a conformation of registration with the Department of Labor and thus will have a LP number. These documents are usually submitted to the power provider(municipal or Eskom) along with any Annexure 4 (Notice of electrical construction) so the person should be able to produce this document with ease.
Each accredited installation electrician will also have a personal registration number proving that this person is indeed legally equipped and capable of performing electrical installation. Take note that this does not apply to persons registered under the category of “single phase tester” only for those registered as “Installation electrician” or “Master Electrician”
up the cost of a COC?
When we consider the process of a COC the costing implications become a bit more understandable.
For an Electrician to issue a COC he or she must first conduct a series of tests. In this process the earthing chain of the house or building as well as each circuit is tested to ensure that, from the point of use all the way back to the local point of supply is safe as per the required standard. Depending on the size of the premises the time needed for these tests may vary. Most electricians however have come up with a type of standard rate per distribution board. This may vary but should generally be somewhere between R1500.00 per DB to R3000.00 per DB. This will however, be determined by the type of installation (Industrial/ Domestic) and the size of the DB and subsequent installation. This includes the administrative duties to capture the information recorded to the national database and provide the client with an original printout. After testing the entirety of the installation, the technician will record any defects or areas where the installation does not conform to the South African National standard. A quotation to rectify these defects will be submitted to the client and once these repairs are complete the tests are redone as a rule (this cost is usually included in the original price unless the client has choses to do the repairs themselves or by another party), if the installation then conforms to the required standard the COC is issued to the client.
Depending on the reason for the COC the client may need to do the following after receiving the COC from his or her electrician.
The current owner will give the new COC to the new owner of
the property. The new owner will then submit copies to the following persons:
The local municipality to facilitate the transfer of
The law firm, bank or party handling the property transfer as
proof that the electrical installation is safe to transfer to new ownership.
The insurance provider of the new owner should he or she
choose to have electrical insurance.
- With insurance request, or post repairs or renovations.
The client may submit the latest COC to his or her insurance.
Some companies or industries are also required to keep a copy of the valid COC in the SHE file on site.
A COC is a
legal document. No other party beside the owner of the property has rights to
the original document. Banks, Municipalities, lawyers, insurance companies and
even SHE reps may request copies of the COC but the client or owner is under no
obligation to supply any other party with the original unless in the case of
property transfer to the new owner.