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Electricity and Power distribution
Electricity and Power distribution

This chapter is sponsored by 32Hundred Lighting


(Revised 20 November 2017)

Electricity and temporary power distribution are a core element for any event, large or small. And every element of an event requires some level of power. Obviously lighting and audio are big players in the power demands but let’s not forget catering with 12 urns, registration with terminals and printers and even the temporary dunnies need power. Under Australian constitutional arrangements, the regulation of energy is the responsibility of the various states and territories. Although there are many common aspects of electricity regulation, electrical safety matters are regulated separately by each Australian State and Territory. Each of these jurisdictions therefore has their own laws about electrical safety and their own regulators.

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10.1 Referenced documents:

WHS Regulation 2011

AS/NZS 3760:2010 In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment

AS/NZS 3000 Electrical installations (known as the Australian/New Zealand Wiring Rules)

AS/NZS 3001:2008 Electrical installations – Transportable structures and vehicles including their site supplies

AS/NZS 3002:2008 Electrical installations – Shows and carnivals

AS/NZS 4249:1994 Electrical safety practices – Film, video and television sites (does not apply to theatre stages, concert locations or permanent television studios.)

NSW – Electricity (Consumer Safety) Bill 2004

ACT – Electricity Safety Act 1971 & Electricity Safety Regulations 2004

Victoria – Electricity Safety Act 1998 & Electricity Safety (Installations) Regulations 2009

Tasmania Managing Electrical Risks in the Workplace – Code of Practice

SA – Electricity Act 1996 & Electricity (General) Regulations 2012

WA – Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996

NT – Electricity Reform (Safety and Technical) Regulations

QLD – Electrical Safety Act 2002 & Electrical Safety Regulation 2013

10.2 Definitions

electrical equipment—see clause 144 (and clause 148 for Division 3 of Part 4.7).

electrical installation—see clause 145 (and clause 148 for Division 3 of Part 4.7).

electrical risk means risk to a person of death, shock or other injury caused directly or indirectly by electricity.

electrical work—see clause 146.

electricity supply authority means a person or body engaged in the distribution of electricity to the public or in the generation of electricity for supply, directly or indirectly, to the public whether by statute, franchise agreement or otherwise and includes:

(a) an energy services corporation within the meaning of the Energy Services Corporations Act 1995, and [edit]

10.3 Incidents

An electrical shock is a notifiable incident under the Model WHS Act. Section 37(e) specifies ‘electrical shock’ as a Dangerous Incident as identified in Section 35. The PCBU in control of the workplace has the duty to notify the Regulator as prescribed in Section 38 and maybe instructed to preserve the incident site as prescribed in Section 39. Some States have different arrangements:

WA: The Electricity (Licensing) Regulations 1991 require that all electric shocks and accidents (including electrical fatalities), irrespective of their seriousness, must be reported to:

  • the employer (if relevant); and
  • the relevant network operator (supply authority). If the person making the report cannot identify the network operator, the fact must be reported to EnergySafety.

Note: All electrical fatalities must also be reported to EnergySafety

QLD: A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must, under the Electrical Safety Regulation 2013 (the ES Regulation), notify the regulator once they become aware of a serious electrical incident (SEI) or dangerous electrical event (DEE) arising out of the conduct of their business or undertaking.

SA: All incidents involving electricity must be reported to the Office of the Technical Regulator by the electrical worker or the occupier of the premises where the incident occurs.

VIC: The duty to notify the Authority (WorkSafe) of an “incident” is contained in Part 5 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (the Act). There is also a duty to notify WorkSafe of serious incidents and dangerous occurrences involving prescribed equipment, pursuant to the Equipment (Public Safety) (Incident Notification) Regulations 1997. Additional notification duties exist in other OHS legislation for specific types of incidents.

TAS: Serious electrical accidents in Tasmania, must be:

  • notified to the Secretary, as soon as practicable, by phone on 1300 366 322 or
  • fully reported in writing to the Secretary, within 21 days of the accident, containing details of the accident, the reasons for the accident and any remedial actions needed: and
  • the site of a serious electrical accident must not be interfered with, unless it is necessary to provide medical or other assistance, to protect life or property, or an authorised officer permits.

10.4 Electrical Work

WHS Regulation Clause 147:
Risk management
A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must manage risks to health and safety associated with electrical risks at the workplace, in accordance with Part 3.1.

The harmonised WHS Regulation outlines what is and isn’t considered ‘electrical work’ in Clause 146:

  • In this Part, electrical work means:
  • connecting electricity supply wiring to electrical equipment or
  • disconnecting electricity supply wiring from electrical equipment, or installing, removing, adding, testing, replacing, repairing, altering or maintaining electrical equipment or an electrical installation.

But Part 2 excludes the following, edited for relevance:

(2) In this Part, electrical work does not include the following:

  • work that involves connecting electrical equipment to an electricity supply by means of a flexible cord plug and socket outlet,
  • work on a non-electrical component of electrical equipment, if the person carrying out the work is not exposed to an electrical risk,

Example. Painting electrical equipment covers and repairing hydraulic components of an electrical motor.

  • replacing electrical equipment or a component of electrical equipment if that task can be safely performed by a person who does not have expertise in carrying out electrical work,

Example. Replacing a fuse or a light bulb.

  • assisting an authorised electrician to carry out electrical work if:
  • (i) the assistant is directly supervised by the authorised electrician, and
  • (ii) the assistance does not involve physical contact with any energised electrical equipment,

10.5 Electrical Risks

10.5.1 What are electrical risks?

Electrical risks are risks of death, electric shock or other injury caused directly or indirectly by electricity. The most common electrical risks and causes of injury are:

  • electric shock causing injury or death. The electric shock may be received by direct or indirect contact, tracking through or across a medium, or by arcing. For example, electric shock may result from indirect contact where a conductive part that is not normally energised becomes energised due to a fault (e.g. metal toaster body, fence)
  • arcing, explosion or fire causing burns. The injuries are often suffered because arcing or explosion or both occur when high fault currents are present
  • electric shock from ‘step-and-touch’ potentials
  • toxic gases causing illness or death. Burning and arcing associated with electrical equipment may release various gases and contaminants
  • fire resulting from an electrical fault.

Electric shocks from faulty electrical equipment may also lead to related injuries, including falls from ladders, scaffolds or other elevated work platforms. Other injuries or illnesses may include muscle spasms, palpitations, nausea, vomiting, collapse and unconsciousness.

Workers using electricity may not be the only ones at risk—faulty electrical equipment and poor electrical installations can lead to fires that may also cause death or injury to others.

10.5.2 Unsafe electrical equipment

  • A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must ensure that any unsafe electrical equipment at the workplace:
  • is disconnected (or isolated) from its electricity supply, and
  • once disconnected (or isolated):
  • (i) is not reconnected until it is repaired or tested and found to be safe, or
  • (ii) is replaced or permanently removed from use.
  • For the purposes of this clause, electrical equipment or a component of electrical equipment is unsafe if there are reasonable grounds for believing it to be unsafe.

10.6 Preparations

WHS Regulation Clause 150 Inspection and testing of electrical equipment
(1) A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must ensure that electrical equipment is regularly inspected and tested by a competent person if the electrical equipment is:
(a) supplied with electricity through an electrical socket outlet, and
(b) used in an environment in which the normal use of electrical equipment exposes the equipment to operating conditions that are likely to result in damage to the equipment or a reduction in its expected life span, including conditions that involve exposure to moisture, heat, vibration, mechanical damage, corrosive chemicals or dust.

10.6.1 Test & Tag

The PCBU in control of the workplace has a duty under the legislation to make sure that all equipment in the workplace is safe for the intended use. In general terms that breaks down in two sections: Test & Tag and a visual inspection before installing and using the equipment. A test tag on a piece of equipment only indicates that the piece of equipment was safe at the time and date it was tested, it is not a guarantee that it will still be safe when used in the workplace. It is crucial that all equipment, specifically cables and extension cords, to be visually inspected before each use. The Test and Tag procedure is outlined in AS3760:2010 and the frequency of testing is contained in Table 4 (see below).

In general terms, equipment used in the entertainment industry should be tested and tagged at least every 12 months for theatre and ‘hotel ballroom’ type use and at least every 6 months when extensively used outdoors. If the equipment is used in a ‘dry-hire’ situation if must be inspected before leaving the warehouse and tested and tagged every 3 months.

10.6.1.a Hire – definition as per AS/NZS3760:2010

A hire situation is created when the hirer provides electrical equipment, to a person or entity external to the hirer’s organization, which passes out of the control of the hirer. A situation where equipment is supplied and operated by the hirer is not considered to constitute a hire. The term hire also includes lease.

10.6.2 Tags

The tag, shall be durable, legible, non-reusable, non-metallic and may be colour coded to identify the period in which the test was performed, and shall include all of the following information as a minimum:

(a) The name of the person or company who performed the test;

(b) The test or inspection date, a retest date and a reference to AS/NZS 3760;

(c) New equipment (Australia only) see below

10.6.3 New equipment

The WHS Regulations Clause 150(2) shows that equipment that is new and unused in a workplace does not need to be tested before put to use initially. This exclusion must be treated very carefully as once the equipment has been used, packed away and moved it is no longer new in relation to this clause. If the equipment remains at the same workplace it will then need to be incorporated in the regular testing schedule. In Australia, equipment that is new and entering into service for the first time but not tested and tagged shall have a tag applied that includes the following information:

  • (i) Wording, “new to service”
  • (ii) Date of entry to service
  • (iii) Date when next test is due
  • (iv) Statement, “This appliance has not been tested in accordance with AS/NZS 3760”.

10.6.4 Documentation

WHS Regulation Clause 150 (4)
The record of testing:
(a) must specify the following:
(i) the name of the person who carried out the testing,
(ii) the date of the testing,
(iii) the outcome of the testing,
(iv) the date on which the next testing must be carried out, and
(b) may be in the form of a tag attached to the electrical equipment tested.

An often-overlooked aspect of the testing regime, documentation. Most people will only look at what the Regulation specifies but the requirements under AS3760:2010 are a little more extensive.

Records of maintenance, including (but not limited to) tests, should be kept throughout the working life of the equipment.

Such records are a useful management tool for reviewing the frequency of inspection and test actions, and ensuring these actions have been carried out. It is recommended that such records be retained for not less than 7 years.

10.6.4.a AS/NZS3760:2010 – 2.5.1

Where records of test and inspection are kept, the following should be recorded:

  • A register of all equipment;
  • A record of formal inspection and tests;
  • A ‘repair’ register;
  • A record of all faulty equipment showing details of services or corrective actions.


  • Electrical and/or occupational health and safety (OH&S) regulators may require documentation to be kept in some or all cases.
  • Where organizations perform voluntary additional inspections and tests, records of such should be kept.


Where records are kept, they should be retained for 7 years, or such period as required by the relevant regulator. It is acceptable for the purposes of this Standard to keep these records in electronic format if this is the preferred method.

10.6.5 Visual inspections

Whilst testing and tagging will confirm that the electrical appliance was in a safe condition when it was tested, it is no guarantee that the appliance is still safe when put in use. As a minimum, a visual inspection must be carried out on each electrical appliance and each cable, extension cord and appliance before using the equipment. AS/NZS3760:2010 suggests the following as part of the testing regime and is a good starting point:

10.6.5.a Inspection

The following equipment checks shall be made by visual and physical inspection of all equipment:

  • Check for obvious damage, defects, or modifications in the equipment and its accessories, connectors, plugs or cord extension sockets; and for discoloration that may indicate exposure to excessive heat, chemicals or moisture;
  • Check that flexible cords are effectively anchored to equipment, plugs, connectors and cord extension sockets;

NOTE – This inspection, including flexing and straining at points of entry and clamping points by the application of reasonable combination of push/pull and rotary movements, may detect broken strands or loose connections.

  • (c) Check for damage to flexible cords to ensure that:
    • The inner cores of flexible cords are not exposed or twisted
    • The external sheaths are not cut, abraded, twisted, or damaged to such an extent that the insulation of the inner cores is visible, and
    • Unprotected conductors or the use of banding insulation tape are not in evidence.


(1) Carefully running the flexible cord through the hand will often detect internal damage such as twisted conductors or broken core filling.

(2) Connecting the plugs/cord extension sockets of cord extension sets together helps to

confirm that the terminals have not spread.

  • For EPODs (Electrical Portable Outlet Device, multiple-outlet portable power board), check that the warning indicating the maximum load to be connected to the device is intact and legible;
  • Check that any operating controls are in good working order i.e. that they are secure, aligned and appropriately identified;
  • Check that covers, guards, and the like are secured and working in the manner intended by the manufacturer or supplier;
  • Check that ventilation inlets and exhausts are unobstructed;
    • (i) Check cooling fans are operational and vents are clear
  • The pins of insulated pin plugs should be inspected for damage to the insulation of the pins, and, if fitted, the shroud on cord extension sockets should be inspected for damage;
    • (i) Check that the current rating of the plug is consistent with the current rating of the equipment.

10.7 Temporary installations

10.7.1 General.

In general terms the distribution of power from the permanent infrastructure within a entertainment venue to the equipment for an event will be considered ‘temporary’. Great care will need to be taken in making sure that all equipment, cables and distribution are is a safe condition before powering the temporary system.

10.8 Temporary installations (outdoors)

10.8.1 General.

A site installation is considered temporary when the associated event has a maximum duration of 4 weeks. AS/NZS3002:2008 sets out the conditions of such installations. The method of supply to the connection facility shall be in accordance with AS 3000. Any ‘amusement’ rides or devices must follow the requirements of AS3533. Below are some of the base requirements as listed in AS/NZS3002:2008 but the whole Standard should be referenced to comply with specific conditions are requirements.

10.8.2 Overhead wiring.

Overhead wiring for a temporary site installation must comply with Section 2.1.3 of AS/NZS3002:2008.

As a minimum, overhead cables should be maintained at a height of not less than 6 metres above ground level or relevant elevated areas. Overhead wiring should avoid crossing access or road ways or areas where cranes and high loads may travel. Where crossing access ways is unavoidable, flagged cables shall be installed on either side of the cable and at least 600mm lower than the cable.

10.8.3 Extension cords

The use of extension cord sets should be limited by the installation of fixed wiring and socket outlets installed in the vicinity of the intended point of use.

In all cases, where extension cords are to be used:

  • Extension cords should be selected for the environment in which they are to be used. eg. Plugs and sockets suitably IP rated where susceptible to weather.
  • Extension cords must be positioned / installed so not to obstruct persons or to be damaged.
  • All extension cords shall have adequate mechanical protection and support.
  • The length of the extension cords shall be limited to the maximum total lengths specified in AS/NZS 3002:2008 Table 4.1 as below:

Extension cord sets that are not acceptable include:

  • Mismatched plugs and sockets on leads (e.g. 10 amp plug 15 amp socket).
  • ‘Orange circular’ cable used for extension cord (lead).
  • Extension leads plugged end on end that exceed the maximum allowable lengths.

10.8.4 Outlet boxes

‘Outlet boxes’ are required to comply with AS/NZS 3100 and when intended to be used at shows and carnivals must meet the requirements of clause 4.4 of AS/NZS 3002.

The construction of the outlet box is required to be durable, providing a degree of protection of IPX4.

The maximum loading in watts or amps is to be legibly and indelibly marked on the outlet box in a conspicuous position with the total output from the outlet box to be limited by over-current and 30mA residual current (RCD) protective device(s) that operate in all live (active and neutral) conductors to limit the current to be carried by the supply lead or appliance inlet as applicable.

10.8.4.a Electrical portable outlet devices

All EPODS (often referred to as power-boards) are required to comply with AS/NZS 3105 and when used at events must:

  • Only be installed to provide power supply to consuming devices within a single stall or concession and directly via a supply lead or appliance lead.
  • EPODS shall not be connected to a socket outlet located on another EPOD (EPODS are not to be cascaded).
  • Where EPODS are in use, they are to be adequately supported by a rigid section of the concession structure and shall not be laid on the ground.

10.9 Electricity supply via generating sets

Generator sets that supply permanent low-voltage installations and/or any electrical equipment by means of direct connection (Not a plug and socket at both ends) shall be connected by a Licensed Electrician and certified as required by legislation. The use of Generator Sets shall comply with the appropriate Standards including AS/NZS 3010. This includes:

  • Location of the generator set.
  • Access around the generator set.
  • Means and location of isolation.
  • Adequate location/protection of cables.

RCD protection provided with the generator shall comply with Section 3.4 of AS/NZS3002:2008.

NOTE: additional requirements for the connection of transportable generators were set out in AS 2790 but are now covered by AS/NZS3010:2017.

10.9.1 Right-sizing gensets

Gensets are sized by the amount of power they can provide – expressed as KVA (kilovolt amps). The power you are drawing is measured in kWh (kilowatt hours).

The aim is to configure genset sizing, siting and distribution to bring them in as close as possible to a 70% – 80% operating load. This is the sweet spot where gensets use the least amount of fuel comparative to power output – achieving maximum fuel efficiency. This will also give you buffer for peak loads (e.g. when everything is turned on at once, for lighting peaks, or for equipment that has an elevated demand for power as it is warming up).

10.9.2 Estimate Energy Demand

Accurately estimating the event’s likely power demand in order to right-size and right-site gensets is an important step in power planning. Identify the major power users including:

  • Site lighting
  • Amenities
  • Traders, caterers, bars
  • Site infrastructure (cabins, offices)
  • Entertainment providers
  • Stage AV/band requirements

Gather as much information about the likely equipment needing to be powered, including wattage, voltage or amps. Know what needs to be running, where and when.

This information can be gathered through application forms, technical specifications requests from performers, and supplier information on proposed equipment to be hired.



Below are the member organisations of ERAC (Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council).

State Organisation Address Postal Address Phone Fax Web Site
WA Energy Safety WA 303 Sevenoaks Street,

Cannington, WA 6107

PO Box 135,

Cannington, WA 6987

(08) 9422 5200 (08) 9422 5244


NT NT Worksafe Darwin Plaza, 41 Smith Street

Darwin, NT 0800

GPO Box 4821,

Darwin, NT 0801

1800 019 115 (08) 8999 5141
SA Office of the Technical Regulator Level 8 ANZ Building (City Central Tower 1)

11 Waymouth Street

Adelaide, SA 5000

PO Box 1

Walkerville, SA 5081

(08) 8226 5500 (08) 8226 5529
SA Office of Consumer & Business Affairs

(Licensing Only)

3rd Floor, 91-97 Grenfell Street

Adelaide, SA 5000

GPO Box 1719

Adelaide, SA 5001

(08) 8204 9696 (08) 8204 9697
QLD Electrical Safety Office

Queensland Treasury

Level 16, 50 Ann Street

Brisbane, QLD 4000

LMB 2234

Brisbane, QLD 4000

(07) 3225 2000 (07) 3237 0229
QLD Department of Mines and Energy Level 7, 61 Mary Street

Brisbane, QLD 4000

PO Box 15216

City East, QLD 4002

(07) 3898 0375 (07) 3238 3088
NSW NSW Fair Trading Level 11, 10 Smith Street

Paramatta, NSW 2150

PO Box 972

Paramatta, NSW 2124

13 32 20 (02) 9895 0222
NSW Department Trade and Investment; Division of Resources
and Energy
Level 17, 227 Elizabeth Street (cnr Bathurst)

Sydney, NSW 2000

GPO Box 3889

Sydney, NSW 2001

(02) 8281 7777 (02) 8281 7799
ACT Environment and Sustainable Development 16 Challis Street,

Dickson ACT 2602

GPO Box 158

Canberra ACT 2601

(02) 6207 1923
AUS Comm Australian Greenhouse Office

Department of Environment & Heritage

John Gorton Building

Parkes, ACT 2601

GPO Box 787

Canberra City, ACT 2601

(02) 6274 1888 (02) 6274 1390
VIC Energy Safe Victoria Level 5, Building 2, 4 Riverside Quay

Southbank, VIC 3006

PO Box 262, Collins Street West

Melbourne, VIC 8007

(03) 9203 9700 (03) 9686 2197
TAS Electricity Standards and Safety


Department of Justice

30 Gordon’s Hill Road

Rosny Park, TAS 7018

PO Box 56

Rosny Park, TAS 7018

(03) 6166 4699 (03) 6233 8338
NZ Energy Safety Service

Ministry of Consumer Affairs

33 Bowen Street

Wellington, New Zealand

PO Box 1473

Wellington, New Zealand

+64 3 962 6248 64 460 1365
NZ Consumer Protection and Standards
Electrical Workers LicensingMinistry of Business, Innovation and Employment
15 Stout Street

Wellington, New Zealand

PO Box 10-156

Wellington, New Zealand

+64 901 8415