Electrical Incidents and Prosecutions (Dec 2022 – June 2023)

Electrical incidents and prosecutions we were made aware of since our last newsletter are summarised below.

Employers and workers are encouraged to ensure all legal requirements and controls are in place when carrying out work to prevent heartache, loss of production, fines, imprisonment, etc.

Africa – Dr Mary Ann Cooper reports 40+ deaths in December 2022 from lightning in Africa.

FIJI – 8 year old south western Sydney boy was electrocuted at a luxury resort in Fiji while chasing frogs. He was found motionless near a flower garden after allegedly touching a light fixture.

NSW – falls from heights is the number one killer on NSW construction sites reports Service NSW.

NSW – welder receives an electric shock while working in sweaty and muggy conditions.

NSW – SafeWork NSW reports over 1,000 incidents relating to electrical work in NSW since 2020 with 584 injuries and 3 worker fatalities.

NSW – Fair Trading reports more than 2,000 people received electric shocks over the past 4 years with five electrocuted and six permanently disabled.

NSW – Power being restored in an underground mine following an outage to the incoming supply. A hissing sound was heard for 5 to 10 seconds after the supply was restored. An arc formed in a PLC cabinet which then externally from the cabinet. The substation on the surface tripped. 4 nearby workers suffered discomfort and ringing in the ears and several report a blocked ear sensation.

NSW – boilermaker received an electric shock and a nasty burn to his hand when lifting the scissor lift he was working in. The positive lead pulled apart when raising the scissor, the boilermaker pulled the insulation boot from the male lead to attach vice grips and re-join the lead. He received the shock and burns when touching the scissor handrail.

NSW – 33 year old electrocuted after contacting a live conductor in a switchboard in April 2023.

NT – Darwin based mining company has been charged after a 36 year old operator suffered an electric shock on night shift. The shock was received to their hand in an electrical cabinet whilst attempting to restart pumping equipment.

NZ – 28 year old man loses both arms after an electric shock when a steel pole he was touching made contact with low hanging powerlines at a scaffolding site. Charges have been laid. The worker substantially deviated from the SWMS for the job that he had developed.

QLD – mining operations were suspended due to the onset of a short but significant storm. The rear tyres on a dump truck had exploded after the vehicle was struck by lightning, which was discovered on the resumption of work. Tyre pyrolysis can cause internal heating and explosion of tyres for at least 24 hours after a strike. An exclusion zone of at least 300 metres should be established around any vehicles struck by lightning.

QLD – January 2023 at Gladstone: a 15 year old boy received an electric shock after contact with live rail network electrical wires. He subsequently fell and died.

QLD – electrical worker received burns to his arms and finger while fitting a rooftop isolator off. Two apprentices were installing PV panels and connected them together. An arc was established between the cores at the isolator which result in the burns when trying to separate the cores.

QLD – shot firing circuit resistance exceed limits set by AS 2187.2, Appendix B, paragraph B7. This may result in failure of detonators to initiate or not functions as intended.

QLD – an unlicenced solar installer was electrocuted when modifying solar panels on an off-grid PV system in a remote area. The system was operating at around 100 volts d.c. Additionally, the worker was found with significant burns to hand and fingers.

QLD – an industrial manslaughter case has been dropped after a 49 year old was killed working on a crane to touched or came close to overhead powerline in 2019.

QLD – worker received arc flash burns while attempting to change out a circuit breaker ‘live’ in a distribution board.

QLD – a meter reader was mauled to death by dogs after he entered a residential property.

TAS – Coroner rules on death of 62 year old after felling a tree near powerlines whilst working for NSW Parks and Wildlife. The person had experience using a chainsaw and felling trees near powerlines.

USA – 36 year old electrocuted in Alabama after wilfully violating safety standards including disregarding hazardous energy control procedures. A live wire touched and livened the machine whilst drive belts were being changed.

VIC – Solar installer fined $32k for failing to have safe systems of work in place after 5 workers were removing solar panels without harnesses or edge protection on roofs up to 7 metres off the ground.

VIC – A transport company has been fined $75k after a worker unloading roof trusses with a truck mounted crane made contact with 22kV powerlines. He was thrown to the ground, placed in an induced coma, and now suffers ongoing effects from the shock. Investigations found there was no SWMS or spotter and the vehicle was positioned in a ‘no-go’ zone.

VIC – Company charged after the electrocution of a 21 year old apprentice who had been maintaining a car lift in West Melbourne in March 2021.

VIC – EnergySafe Victoria has investigated 14 incidents since December 2021 where members of the public have made contact with services lines while gardening or professional gardeners and tree clearing contractors making contact.

VIC – EnergyAustralia fined $1.5M for the death of Graeme Edwards, aged 54. Graeme dies from an arc blast while performing routine maintenance on a medium voltage circuit breaker in 2018.

VIC – 10 tonne crane rolled over pulling down HV and LV powerlines that landed near a man causing an electric shock. The crane was being moved with the jib extended. The machine operator stayed onboard the crane until the supply was isolated. 600 properties had no electricity overnight.

WA – a homeowner received an electric shock in 2021 after touching exposed wiring that an electrician failed to isolate. The company involved has been fined $35,000. The homeowner had been tidying the garden where an air conditioner had been removed.

WA – a teenager suffered serious injuries when making contact with trimming equipment to 22kV powerlines while clearing vegetation.

More Blog Articles

Poletop Fires

Western Power was recently plagued with approximately 70 poletop fires that caused widespread outages and damage to the network. Around 47,000 homes and businesses were

Read More »