ACT Changing a light bulb on body corporate land

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Ted Sherwood

Well-Known Member
24 December 2014
35
1
124
We have a laneway that is a Body Corporate (Community Title Act, ACT law). It has bollard lights. We know how to turn the power off to the lights, unscrew the old bulb and insert a new one. Is this breaking the law, i.e. does it have to be done by a licensed electrician?
 

Docupedia

Well-Known Member
7 October 2020
306
38
719
Likely the third.

Changing a light bulb is unlikely to need a licensed electrician by law. However, it may technically be a form of trespass if done without body corporate approval - not that anyone is likely to do much about it outside of a 'don't do that' letter.

The 'danger' (which is likely remote, but not zero) is: what happens if something goes wrong and someone gets hurt while changing/because of changing the lightbulb? The body corporate's public liability insurance may drop them like a hot potato if it finds out they condoned someone, who wasn't authorised, messing around with the bollard. Maybe a small risk - but it's up to the insurer, and then the body corporate would have to fight that decision AND deal with a personal injury claim. For the small sake of saying no one unauthorised can change the lightbulb, they don't have to worry about that risk.

The saying 'an ounce of prevention beats a ton of cure' applies.

From that viewpoint, people/bodies corporate will come up with a range of explanations as to why they won't allow it; some rational, some bordering on silly. Saying 'only a licensed electrician can change the light bulbs' (for example) would sound ludicrous out of context. A more fulsome explanation of 'we only allow licensed electricians to change the lightbulbs because if something goes wrong we don't want to get sued and potentially not have insurance cover. If a licensed electrician gets it wrong, then that's on them - not us' may be closer to the truth.
 

Ted Sherwood

Well-Known Member
24 December 2014
35
1
124
Thank you Docupedia for your comprehensive answer. As to my specific question, is it illegal, I gather that you think not but you are not sure. Unfortunately, while being aware of risk, common sense, convenience, body corporate politics and such is helpful - and I thank you for that - in this case I actually need an answer on the legality.
 

Docupedia

Well-Known Member
7 October 2020
306
38
719
Okay, in terms of ACT law, consider the Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act 2004 ('CO Act') and the Electricity Safety Act 1971 ('ES Act'). I've bolded parts which appear relevant to your question:

- CO Act s84:
(1) A person commits an offence if the person—
(a) provides a service (whether as an employee or otherwise) in a construction occupation or occupation class;
and
(b) either—
(i) is not licensed in the occupation or class; or
(ii) if an endorsement on the licence is required for the person to be authorised to provide the service provided and the licence does not have that endorsement.
Maximum penalty: 50 penalty units.

- CO Act s6(2):
(2) A construction service is the doing or supervision of work in a construction occupation.

- CO Act s7:
Each of the following is a construction occupation :
...
(e) electrician;
...

- CO Act s11:
(1) An electrician is an entity that provides, has provided or proposes to provide electrical wiring services.
(2) An electrical wiring service is the doing or supervision of electrical wiring work.
(3) In this section:
"electrical wiring work" see the Electricity Safety Act 1971

- ES Act Dictionary:
"electrical wiring work"
(a) means the installation, replacement, augmentation, curtailing, maintenance, repair, or alteration of the location of all or part of, an electrical installation, other than—
(i) an electrical installation that operates at extra low voltage; or
(ii) telecommunications cabling or equipment that operates at a voltage not greater than 90V a.c.; but
(b) does not include
(i) plugging a plug into a socket outlet, or unplugging it; or
(ii) fitting a lamp to a lighting outlet or removing it; or
(iii) fitting, removing or replacing a fuse or fuse wire if the fuse or wire cannot sustainedly conduct more than 30A.