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I have a safety switch—isn’t one enough?

Safety switches are often confused with circuit breakers and fuses, but they perform different tasks. A Safety switch monitors the flow of electricity through a circuit and turn off the power in a fraction of a second if a leakage of current is detected. Safety switches provide personal protection against electric shock.


Circuit breakers protect an electrical circuit by quickly cutting power when there is a high current fault or overload that may cause a hazard.

Even if your home has a safety switch installed, one may not be enough to protect you from electric shock. A safety switch only protects you if it’s on that circuit. You should consider having safety switches installed on all circuits in your home, including power points, lights, air conditioning, oven, hot water and pool equipment circuits, even if they are on a separate tariff.


Testing your safety switch

Test your safety switches every three months to ensure they are working properly.

Follow these simple steps:

  • Let everyone know you are about to test your safety switches, especially if they’re using a computer or recording something on TV—the testing process will cut power to those circuits connected to the safety switch.
  • At the switchboard, press the T’ or ‘Test’ button located on the safety switch. If it flicks off and cuts the power, it is working. Check to see which lights or appliances are now off—these are protected by the safety switch. If it has not cut the power to the connected circuit then you are no longer protected and you should talk to your licensed electrician as soon as you can.
  • After testing, turn the safety switch back on. Depending on the safety switch type, push it back upwards or twist it into the ‘on’ position. For circuits with a refrigerator or air conditioner, wait for two to three minutes before resetting to avoid possible appliance damage.

Nuisance tripping

There are instances where excessive tripping of your safety switch can be annoying. It might be a faulty electrical appliance or indicate a high load from a variety of appliances on that circuit.

At the switch board, reset the safety switch that flicked off – if it trips again, the last appliance plugged in may be the cause. However, if the safety switch continues to trip, then disconnect all the appliances and plug them in one at a time until the faulty one trips the safety switch.

If a particular electrical appliance repeatedly sets off the safety switch, then it may need to be replaced or checked by a competent person or the manufacturer’s authorised agent. Avoid touching any potentially faulty appliances while the power is on.

Find the whole article at Worksafe Qld.

Need your switch checked? Contact us on 07 3378 3387 or visit our contact us page.

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