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Insulation health and safety

Man wearing safety gear installing insulation in a ceiling cavity

The installation of insulation, especially in the ceiling, can be a dangerous job. Take precautions if you are intending to install it yourself, and keep the following safety tips in mind.

Have your wiring inspected by a licensed electrician

This will ensure that it can be safely covered by insulation. Old wiring can become overheated, leading to fires when covered.

Employ a trained professional

When installing insulation in your ceiling it's recommended you contact a trained professional who has the required skills and knowledge.

Ensure the electricity is switched OFF at the switchbox

It is recommended that the electricity is turned off at the switchbox before anyone inspects or installs insulation.

Always wear protective clothing

It's good to always wear protective equipment when working in dusty roof spaces. In particular, wear gloves and a face mask when installing glasswool, mineral wool or cellulose fibre insulation. These materials can cause irritation to your skin, eyes and upper respiratory tract. Wear adequate eye protection when installing reflective insulation, as it can cause dangerous glare, and be aware of the increased risk of sunburn.

Don’t work alone

There are inherent dangers associated with going into your roof space. Make sure someone holds the ladder when you enter the ceiling space and keeps an eye on you while you’re up there.

Ensure minimum clearances around downlights

Ceiling fires have increased significantly with the more common use of downlights that penetrate the ceiling. Care must be taken to ensure minimum clearances around downlights are maintained and transformers are not underneath the insulation.

Allow clearance around hot flues, exhaust fans, appliances and fittings

Care must be taken to ensure minimum clearances around hot flues, exhaust fans, appliances and fittings are maintained to reduce risk of fire.

Ensure minimum clearances around incandescent lights

Care must be taken to ensure minimum clearances around incandescent lights are maintained to reduce risk of fire. These clearances should be 50mm above incandescent lights and 100mm to the side of any structural timber joist.

Ensure minimum clearances around halogen lights

Care must be taken to ensure minimum clearances around halogen lights are maintained to reduce risk of fire. Ensure insulation has a minimum clearance of 200mm above recessed halogen lights and to the side of any structural timber joist, with a 50mm gap for lighting transformers. Install unvented LED lighting instead of halogen downlights to significantly reduce the required clearance around your ceiling insulation. Refer to the Australian/New Zealand Wiring Rules (Australian/New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS) 3000:2007) for more detailed information.

Be mindful of metal materials

Keep insulation materials containing reflective foil clear of electrical wiring and fittings, and do not secure it with metal staples.

These tips are not intended to be exhaustive or constitute professional advice. For more insulation safety and installation information refer to the ICANZ-HandBook-PART-2-Professional-Installation-Guide and consult a trained professional who can provide you with advice specific to your circumstances.

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