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 and 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 the change in the electrical circuit and switches the power off in as little as 0.3 seconds.
Types of safety switches
- switchboard safety switches
- power point safety switches
- portable safety switches
Electrical safety switches have a button with a T on them. Safety switches have been compulsory on all new homes in Queensland since 1992.
How does a Safety Switch work?
By detecting an imbalance in the live and neutral wires eg when the current is passing through something else, the Safety Switch instantly activates (within 0.03 of a second). This can prevent electric shock if the current is passing through a person.
Rules for safety switches in Queensland - domestic homes
1992 - 2000
- Safety switches have been compulsory on all new homes in Queensland since 1992.
- Safety switches must also be fitted to all power point circuits when a new electrical installations occurs.
- Safety switches have been compulsory on all power point and lighting circuits for new Queensland homes built since 2000.
- Homes which have had the electrical installation extended to include additional lighting and power point circuits are required to have safety switch protection on both lighting and power point circuits.
Buying a property
If you buy a property without a safety switch, you must install a safety switch for the power point circuits within three months of a property transfer. This applies to any transfer of domestic premises.
Selling a property
If you sell a property, you first establish if a safety switch is installed for power point circuits, which must be declared on the standard sales contract and Form 24 Property Transfer.
Renting a home
A landlord renting out a home must ensure a safety switch has been installed for the power points within six months of the tenancy agreement, if there is not a safety switch already present.
source: FAQ Queensland Electricity
A Safety Switch is not a Circuit Breaker
A Circuit Breaker is an electrical switch designed to protect an electrical circuit from damage caused by overcurrent/overload or short circuit.
Circuit Breakers are installed in switchboards and are generally designed to protect equipment. A Safety Switch is designed to protect people.