Electrical and gas safety at festivals and outdoor events
Safety auditors from the Office of the Technical Regulator (OTR) may do a safety inspection of the event without any prior notice. Serious penalties apply to people who knowingly use unsafe electrical and gas installations.
If a safety auditor notes any unsafe conditions, these must be fixed before the electrical or gas appliances/installations can be used.
Electrical safety at festivals and events
Ensuring safe electrical installations at stalls, stages and in public areas of festivals and events helps avoid dangerous consequences, including fire, electric shock, injury or death.
An electrical installation at a festival/event includes wiring systems that power devices at stages, within concession tents, living quarters and other structures, and includes using extension cords and power boards.
The OTR inspects electrical installations to ensure they are safe. The most common issues include:
- overhead wiring
- installing cables, including extension cords
- festoon and decorative lighting clearances.
Did you know that it is illegal to do your own electrical work?
Only licensed electricians can do work on electrical installations in South Australia. If you do electrical work without a licence, you may receive a fine. It can also be extremely dangerous for you and result in serious injury, or even death. Insurance companies may not cover fire or personal injury claims caused by do-it-yourself electrical work.
Licensed tradespeople have the equipment, training and knowledge to do the necessary work safely and in accordance with appropriate regulations and rules. When using a licensed tradesperson you should ensure they hold an appropriate South Australian trade licence and provide you with an electrical certificate of compliance for work they do for you.
You should keep your certificate of compliance and the invoice for the work as proof that the work was done correctly.
Who is responsible
Safety at festival and events is everyone’s responsibility. Stallholders and festival/event facilitators must ensure the electrical set-up is safe for users and the public.
Penalties of up to $250,000 may apply if an electrical installation is not safe or safely operated.
Stallholders are responsible for ensuring a licensed South Australian electrician connects and tests their electrical installation.
The overall legal responsibility for the electrical safety of a festival or event lies with the person who owns or operates the site, eg the land owner or council, who is considered the ‘facilitator’ of the festival/event.
The facilitator may either supply electricity to the festival/event, or allow stallholders to run an electricity supply on their land. The facilitator needs to have appropriate procedures and policies in place to regulate that an electrician with a South Australian licence undertakes all electrical work at the festival/event. The licensed electrician must issue a certificate of compliance for the work done at the festival/event, which the facilitator can rely on as confirmation the electrical installations are safe.
Testing and verifying electrical safety
Electrical installations must comply with Australian Standard AS/NZS3002 – Shows and carnivals.
All electrical work on new or existing electrical installations should be completed by a South Australian licensed electrician, who must issue a certificate of compliance to verify the work is done to appropriate standards and is safe to operate.
Electrical certificates of compliance are legal documents required under the Electricity Act 1996 and are designed to protect customers, by confirming the work has been installed and tested to appropriate Australian standards and is safe to use, and electricians, by confining their responsibilities to the work they’ve done.
If installing overhead wiring near concession tents/stalls, parking areas or in areas where there is pedestrian/vehicle traffic, the wires must be at least 6m above the ground (see figure 1).
Where possible, overhead wiring should not cross roadways or access-ways where cranes, high loads or heavy machinery may travel.
If overhead wiring must cross a roadway or access-way, two additional flagged cables (or other suitable warning cables) must be installed 6m either side of the overhead wiring, and at least 0.6m below the lowest point of the overhead wiring (see figures 2 and 3).When strung up, all cables must be able to hold their own weight at the appropriate height, as an insulated aerial conductor, or be supported by a secondary wire, eg a steel wire or rope.
Installing cables, including extension cords
All electrical cables, including extension cords and powerboards to individual tents/stalls, must be designed and installed to the appropriate Australian standard by a South Australian licensed electrician.
A licensed electrician will ensure that the size of the cable used is appropriate for its purpose and will avoid appliances ‘burning out’ from voltage issues, or catching fire.
All flexible cables must have an adequate cross-sectional area for their overall length and for the current that will be drawn through them.
The table below shows the maximum length for flexible cables (extracted from AS/NZS3002, table 4.1).
|Cord extension set rating||Conductor area||Maximum length of flexible cord: General use||Maximum length of flexible cord: For equipment with high energy starting currents that may affect the safe operation of equipment|
|10 A||1.0 mm2||25 m||15 m|
|1.5 mm2||35 m||25 m|
|2.5 mm2||60 m||40 m|
|4.0 mm2||100 m||60 m|
|15/16 A||1.5 mm2||25 m||15 m|
|2.5 mm2||40 m||25 m|
|4.0 mm2||65 m||45 m|
|20 A||2.5 mm2||30 m||20 m|
|4.0 mm2||50 m||30 m|
Any socket outlets, extension cord plugs or other connectors exposed to the weather must be protected from water. Socket outlets and plugs must be correctly IP (ingress protection) rated for their location, and extension lead plugs must have appropriate coverings. Plastic bags are not appropriate protective materials for connections, as they can collect water rather than keep it out.
Cables lying on the ground can be a tripping hazard and can be easily damaged. Vehicle and foot traffic can wear out the outer covering of the cable and expose the bare copper, which can cause electric shocks and fire. Any cables on the ground should have protective covering, such as the plastic channel shown below in Image 3.
Festoon and decorative lighting clearances
Lamps can release a large amount of heat. To avoid a fire and injury risks, festoon and decorative lighting must be at least:
- 150 mm away from flammable materials or structural metal work
- 6 m above the ground in an area that may have any vehicle traffic
- 2.7 m above the ground in an area where people are likely to stand, unless precautions are taken to prevent accidental contact or the lamp holders are installed immediately below a ceiling or fixed to a structure in a way they will not get damaged.
Gas safety at outdoor events
If you’re using LPG cylinders at outdoor events, you need to ensure the cylinders, related components and any gas appliances you’re using are safe to use and kept in a safe location.
Use these checklists to help ensure your gas installation is safe for you, your staff and the people attending the event.
You only need to answer the questions that apply to your situation.
If your answer is different from the preferred answer, you will need to make the necessary changes before your event starts to comply with the necessary safety rules and regulations.
If you have any questions about the questions and preferred answers, please contact the Office of the Technical Regulator.
LPG cylinder safety checklist
|Items you need to check||Your answer|
Is the gas cylinder damaged, rusty or over 10 years old?
Is the gas cylinder being used outside a caravan or a structure?
Are spare, full or empty cylinders stored outside?
Is any cylinder blocking an exit way?
Are cylinders placed on a flat, level and non-combustible surface?
Are cylinders secured in an upright position with a chain?
Are cylinders kept in a well-ventilated location?
Is the cylinder safety relief valve facing away from the structure?
Is there a clearance area of at least a metre between the cylinders and any ignition sources?
Gas appliances safety checklist
|Items you need to check||Your answer|
Are your appliances approved and labelled by a recognised certifying body?
Have the appliances been checked within the last two years by a qualified person?
Have any of the safety devices on the appliances been tampered with?
If fitted, do all thermostats and ignition sources work?
Are gas supply pipes and hoses in good condition?
Have the connection joints been tested for gas leaks using soapy water?
Are customers and combustible materials clear of the appliances?
Safety procedures checklist
|Items you need to check||Your answer|
Do your staff members know what to do in an emergency?
Is a suitable and ready-to-use fire extinguisher available close by?
Has a staff member been trained in exchanging LPG cylinders?
Once you have completed the checklists, keep them for the duration of the event. You may be asked to produce the completed checklists during a site safety audit.
If you have an unsafe cylinder, gas appliance or installation, you must use a licensed gas fitter to rectify the fault. You can also get help from the Office of the Technical Regulator regarding LPG safety for your outdoor events.
On this site
- Contact the Office of the Technical Regulator
- Turning your gas supply off and on
- Gas leaks
- Using gas appliances safely
- Barbecue safety
- Ventilation for gas appliances
- Portable butane gas stove safety
- Electrical safety at festivals and events booklet
- Electrical safety at festivals and events checklist