Safety switches provide an important defence against electric shock and are mandatory in all new homes. A licensed electrician should install all safety switches except portable units.
A safety switch is designed to immediately switch the power off when harmful levels of electricity (usually 30 milliamps) ‘leak’ to earth. Safety switches typically operate within 10 to 50 milliseconds.
There are three types of safety switches:
- Switchboard or meter box units – installed on the main switchboard or meter box to provide complete installation protection or selected circuit protection.
- Power point units – inbuilt in a standard power point to provide single point or single circuit protection.
- Portable units – suitable for use with extension cords and portable power tools.
Caution: A safety switch will not protect against all instances of electric shock. If a person comes into contact with the active and neutral conductors while handling a faulty plug or appliance, the safety switch will not detect this contact unless there is also a flow to earth.
Make sure all appliances are in good order and to test your safety switch regularly, by pressing the test button.