The 2300 kilometres of non-compliant electrical cabling in thousands of Australian homes is expected to start failing from April, according to a notice released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which is conducting a recall.
Up to 22,000 homes, which had the Infinity and Olsent-branded electrical cables installed between 2010-13, are thought to be affected by the recall, which was instigated after it was discovered the cables failed to meet electrical safety standards due to a poor quality plastic coating.
The move comes after widespread concern about non-compliant cladding material used throughout Australian high rise apartment towers, widely covered by The Fifth Estate.
“It is expected that in the next couple of months the cable insulation could start to crack and this may lead to electric shock or a fire if the cables are disturbed by tradespeople or home owners/occupiers,” ACCC said in its statement on cabling.
“This represents a significant risk of serious injury or death for the many Australian households in which this electrical cabling was installed since 2010 in NSW and since 2011 elsewhere in Australia, unless it has been remediated.”
While the recall has been in effect since 2013, just 39 per cent of the cabling has been rectified.
The ACCC said retailers and suppliers of the cabling had reported that electricians and builders they had sold to were “ignoring requests to notify them where the cable was installed, so that it can be remediated under the supplier’s product recall”.
It warned that electricians and builders could be held financially liable for property damage, injuries or loss of life from failing to alert home owners or the appropriate regulator.
“Infinity cables were recalled because they deteriorate and become brittle more rapidly than normal compliant cables, especially in areas of high heat,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said. “The cable is expected to have deteriorated sufficiently by April that if disturbed it could lead to electric shock or fire in some premises.
“If you are an electrician or builder who installed the recalled electrical cable, you should immediately notify property owners, suppliers, and electrical safety authorities in order to have it remediated.”
Homeowners who installed electrical cable from 2010 in NSW or 2011 in other states are being urged to arrange an inspection by a licensed electrician. If Infinity cables are discovered, the cost of inspection will be covered by the cable supplier, as well as the cost of remediation.
The Senate Economics References Committee is set to release a report on an inquiry into non-conforming building products on 16 March 2016.