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Tough new laws for electric fences

Property owners are at risk if someone gets hurt because of faulty or non-compliant electric fencing, says John Graham of HouseCheck.

If you had your electric fence done by the guys from the local hardware store or one of the 'bakkie brigade' boys, you have reason to be concerned. The chances of your fence being compliant are low.

Similarly, if the installation was done by a non-specialist company, the ones that do a bit of everything (gate motors, intercoms, garage doors, some of the armed response companies, who use sub-contractors), then the chances are fairly slim that the installation has been done to legislative specification. The reason is quite simple: electric fencing is not their core business.

From 1 December 2012 all new, upgraded and repaired electric fence installations in South Africa must be compliant and the government has now established strict new regulations for this industry. By 1 October 2013, all electric fence installers must be registered after first passing a tough exam.

The new law says that electric fences must now be certified with an electric fence system certificate of compliance (EFC). This certificate is similar to the electrical compliance certificate which all property owners must have. However, electricians cannot issue this electric fence certification - unless the electrician is also qualified in terms of the new electric fence laws and has been registered with the Department of Labour.

In terms of this new law, all properties with an electric fence can only be transferred after 1 December 2012, if an EFC has been lodged with the conveyancing attorney
All residential and commercial units, freehold and or sectional title, within town house complexes, housing estates, echo parks, business parks, also fall under this legislation.

Although sectional title properties do not require an EFC to effect transfer, body corporates and business entities are still legally responsible for any electric fence installation on the property and can be sued and prosecuted for non-compliance - especially if someone gets hurt.

A certificate is also required when a change and or addition is made to an existing installation - such as restringing an electric fence, or any additions to an electric fence. A certificate is not required when repairing a broken wire; replacing a broken bobbin; repairing the energizer; replacing a lightning arrestor; or other repairs of a minor issue.

Should a fence found to be non-compliant, it will either have to be upgraded to compliance or the owner will be forced to remove it.

Electrical fence installers must pass new examinations and be registered with the Department of Labour by 1 October 2013. So it's goodbye to the bakkie brigade of cowboy electric fence installers. There are an estimated 4000 electric fence installers operating in South Africa at present. According to Douglas Deerans of the SA Electrical Fencing Installers Association, government anticipates that once the registration process is finalized by 1 October 2013 there will be less than 300 registered and accredited electric fence system Installers, country wide.

Some of the topics covered in the new legislation include: Energizer and energizer placement specifications; energizer lightning arrestors which must be fitted to all energizers; fence and energizer earthing specifications (the energizer must have its own earthing spike); the placement and positioning of brackets; specifications regarding the joining of fence wiring /cabling; and warning signs.


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