Safety switches could be installed on all residential electrical circuits under a Bligh Government proposal that would save at least 50 lives if implemented.
Industrial Relations Minister Cameron Dick said the proposal would make Queensland the safest state in Australia for electrical safety.
?A recent review by the Electrical Safety Office found three in four electrical deaths in Queensland since 2000 could have been prevented through the installation of safety switches,? Mr Dick said.
?We are now seeking community feedback on the best way to reduce fatalities and injuries through greater use of electrical safety switches in the home.
?While more than 80 per cent of the state?s residential properties already have at least one safety switch, we want to make homes even safer.
?This is why we are releasing for public comment a regulatory assessment statement that outlines several options to make homes safer.
?One option could be new laws requiring safety switches to be fitted to all domestic electrical circuits when residential properties are sold or rented.
?This move could prevent at least 50 electrocutions and result in more than 9000 fewer electrical shocks over the next three decades.
?Currently, safety switches are required to be fitted on power or lighting circuits for new homes, and on power circuits only in existing homes within three months of their sale or rental.
?But a review of electrical incidents in recent years by the Electrical Safety Office has found that many more deaths and injuries could be avoided if safety switches were installed on all circuits in a house.
?In fact, safety switches could have prevented three-quarters of the 33 fatalities associated with electrical installations and equipment in the past 10 years.
?Installing safety switches on all domestic circuits could cost households, on average, up to about $290, depending on the number of safety switches already installed and the option that is adopted.
?This is a small price to pay to save so many lives ? and any changes would be phased in over a long period of time so that households are given plenty of notice.?
Master Electricians Australia CEO Malcolm Richards said he supported the compulsory fitting of safety switches to all circuits.
?Safety switches have been required in Australian homes for about 20 years,? Mr Richards said.
?In the event of an electrical accident, a safety switch can cut the power in as little as three-hundredths of a second ? faster than the critical phase of a heart beat ? preventing serious injury or death.
?Master Electricians commends the State Government for taking this step towards protecting Queensland families.?
Mr Dick said it was important any changes took into account shifts in the energy sector.
?In recent years there has been a rapid increase in the domestic use of energy conservation and renewable energy technologies such as roof-mounted solar power and hot water systems,? Mr Dick said.
?This is welcome from an environmental perspective, but we also need to ensure that the safety of householders and tradespeople is not compromised with these new technologies. The options paper will also canvass various timeframes and regulatory triggers for the installation of safety switches.?
A safety switch works by shutting off the power to a circuit when a harmful level of electricity is detected leaking to earth.
The regulatory assessment statement is available online at www.justice.qld.gov.au and www.getinvolved.qld.gov.au. Consultation closes on 31 March 2012.