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What is a Safety Switch?

A safety switch is a device that quickly switches off the electricity supply if an electrical fault is detected, to minimise the risk of electricity-related fires, electric shock, injury or death.  When a person makes direct contact with electricity, it is directed away from its main path in the electrical circuit and instead goes through the person’s body to earth. A safety switch can detect this change in the electrical circuit and switches the power off in as little as 0.3 seconds. 

Circuit breakers are not safety switches. Circuit breakers protect against short circuits and current overloads, but only safety switches protect people from electric shock. 

In 1991, a law was introduced specifying that safety switches protecting power points and lighting circuits must be installed in all new homes and in buildings where electrical circuits are altered or added. If your home was built before 1991, it may not be protected by safety switches.

There are three types of safety switches.  Switchboard safety switches are installed on individual circuits. A power point safety switch replaces an existing power point. These switches protect appliances and power cords plugged into the switch, and may protect other electrical wiring and power points on the same circuit.and portable safety switches all serve different purposes.  Only a licensed electrician will be able to determine whether you need a switchboard or a power point safety switch and install it correctly.  Also make sure to ask your electrician to show the work has been done safely by providing a certificate of compliance within thirty days of completing the installation.  Portable safety switches are essential protective devices for people working with electrical appliances where there is no access to switchboard or power point safety switches. Portable safety switches will only protect you from faults in the equipment directly plugged into them.

Switchboard safety switch
Power point safety switch
Portable safety switch

It’s important to remember that safety switches are only a back-up and may not protect all wiring and electrical appliances and will not prevent all electric shocks.

Contact us today to discuss your options for the installation and /or maintenance of safety switches in your home.