'Live' foil: insulation safety inspections ordered



Foil insulation

Foil insulation installed incorrectly is potentially dangerous. If you have an immediate concern, contact a licenced electrician. You can also call the Government's dedicated hotline on 131 792.

Credit: iStockphoto

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The use of foil insulation under the Government's Home Insulation Program has been suspended, and every house that has had the product installed is to undergo an electrical safety inspection, it has been announced.

The decision to discontinue the foil insulation was made known earlier this week by Environment Minister Peter Garrett, who today said that all homes with foil installed under the program were to be evaluated for safety, due to fears they could have live electricity running through their roof spaces, making them unsafe.

Preliminary inspections have so far identified such examples of 'live' insulation in roofs, and to date four workers have died while making installations.

"The safety of householders and installers is an absolute priority for the program," Garrett said in a statement.

"Metallic foil is conductive and when installed incorrectly, without undertaking the mandatory risk assessments and in breach of clear program requirements, this product can be dangerous.

"Unfortunately, despite strong measures taken to date, including banning the use of metal fasteners for foil insulation in November last year, we are still seeing evidence of foil installations which do not meet clear program requirements," he said.

The Home Insulation Program pays homeowners up to $1,200 for installing ceiling insulation to help improve the energy efficiency of their homes, and some 37,000 homes have already had foil insulation installed under the program.

Home owners with the insulation will be able to call in a licenced electrician to conduct a safety inspection and to have problems rectified. The electrician will then be able seek reimbursement from the Government, ensuring home owners are not left out of pocket.

If you have had foil insulation installed, you can expect a letter from the Department of the Environment explaining the situation and what your options are, or you can call the hotline for affected householders on 131 792.

Over the past six months, the Government has toughened regulation of the Home Insulation Program, banning some hazardous materials, providing more rigorous training standards, and 'blacklisting' some insulation operators.

From this Friday, every installer fitting insulation under the scheme will be required to provide evidence that they have met a minimum level of training or skill requirements, and a statutory declaration will be required for any installer claiming previous industry experience.

A 'name and shame' list of deregistered insulation installers has was also established late last year, listing any business struck from the national installer register because of failure to meet guidelines or 'dodgy' behaviour. Before having any insulation installed you can confirm your chosen installer in not part of the list here.