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Common electrical hazards

Advice on how to avoid common electrical hazards around the home.

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How to avoid electrical accidents

Every year in NSW people lose their lives from electrical accidents. NSW Fair Trading is trying to prevent electrical accidents among electrical workers and the general public in NSW. 

Most accidents can be avoided if you: 

  • use care and common sense 
  • do not do it yourself – get a licensed electrician to do the job 
  • do not mix water and electricity 
  • use a safety switch. 

By law, you must report any electrical accident where medical treatment is required, either by calling your electricity provider or Fair Trading on 13 32 20.

Employers must also report accidents to  SafeWork NSW

Tips on staying safe around electricity 

  • Switch off all heating appliances if the power fails. Fires have been caused when power returns unexpectedly. 

  • Switch off before pulling out a plug. Grasp the plug – not the cord. 

  • Do not spray household cleaners and insecticides on power points or switches. They may cause cracking and an electrical hazard. 

  • Combustible material must be kept clear of all heating appliances, such as bedding, clothes, curtains, furniture, newspapers.

  • Wear dry leather gloves when welding. Touching the electrode can be dangerous because of the voltage present.

  • When using an electric blanket, tie the tapes of the electric blanket to prevent creasing.

  • Teach children that power points and appliances are not toys. It is dangerous for children to touch live pins of plugs. Plastic covers for power points reduce the chance of children inserting objects. 

  • Some overseas products may not operate satisfactorily or safely under Australian conditions using 240V 50Hz supply. These products could be hazardous if used without modification. Have them checked before use. 

Visit the Fire and Rescue NSW website for safety information on 

Cords, cables and plugs 

Tips to keep you and your family safe with electrical appliances and installation at home.

  • Fully unwind extension cords before use as they may overheat. 

  • Damaged cords and older style plugs are dangerous. Have them replaced. 

  • Do not stack plugs. It can overload the power point and cause a fire. 

  • Do not use a home-made extension cord. If wrongly wired or without an earth wire, a home-made extension cord is dangerous. Buy ready-made cords, they’re cheaper and safer. 

Most accidents can be avoided if you

  • use care and common sense 

  • do not do it yourself – get a licensed electrician to do the job 

  • do not mix water and electricity 

  • use a safety switch.

Risks and injuries with faulty electrical appliances or installations

Electric shocks can be caused by

  • faulty appliances
  • damaged or worn power cords, power points and household wiring
  • electrical appliances coming in contact with water
  • power lines on the ground after an accident or storm.

While some shocks are a minor ‘tingle’, others can be much more serious. 

Electric shock can cause

  • muscle spasms 

  • nausea and vomiting 

  • difficulty breathing 

  • collapse and unconsciousness 

  • palpitations, cardiac arrest and damage to the heart. 

Call for medical help if you are injured

 If you are injured and require urgent medical assistance contact your GP or call 000 immediately. 

Report an electrical accident 

For mains supply electricity 

If you have, or suspect a problem, always contact a licensed electrician. 

For major problems, call the emergency number on your electricity bill to arrange to make your electrical installation safe. 

For tenants in residential rental properties

If you’re renting, report electrical problems to your landlord or managing agent immediately.

These should be repaired as a priority as landlords have a legal obligation to ensure all electrical installations and fittings on their property are kept in safe order. 

NSW Fair Trading

Report your incident by mail to:

Electrical and Gas Unit 
NSW Fair Trading 
PO Box 972 
Parramatta, NSW  2124 

If you are reporting the incident by mail, it would be helpful if you

  • include information on the accident (where, when and what happened)
  • provide contact details so we can get in touch with you. 

Employers must also report incidents accidents to SafeWork NSW

Related information

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