Electrical Incidents and Prosecutions (Dec 23 – Jan 24)

The following electrical incidents and prosecutions are but a sample of those occuring across Australia and beyond.

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.

Feature Incidents
Below are quite a few incidents where contact has been made with overhead and underground mains. Controls to prevent this type of incident incude:

– Performing a risk assessment in the planning stages of work and have all controls for the identified hazards in the SWMS for the site and the work to be performed
– Conduct a dial before you dig for underground mains
– Use a cable locator service to identify where underground mains are
– Use the ‘look up and live’ app and also visually look for overhead mains
– Identify ‘no go’ or exclusion zones
– Identify if a spotter is needed and ensure they have no other roles for the work
– Prepare safe traffic paths at your worksite if there are high loads
– Have your local power authority install visual markers such as tiger tails or spinning markers
– Plan an outage with the local power authority if the risks can’t be managed with the supply on.

Electrocution and Shock Incidents
QLD – A person unearthed what they believed to be an underground black poly waterpipe to repair a water leak. But was electrocuted whist cutting into the pipe with conduit shears as the pipe contained an energised electrical cable.
QLD – 4 overhead powerline incidents with 3 dead. The first death occurred when a crane made contact and the second with an EWP when it raised from the ground and made contact. The third occurred on a farm when a spray unit made contact. The last incident occurred when a concrete kibble attached to a crane made contact and luckily no one was injured.
NSW Mine – A worker installing a new skirting system to a conveyor using an electric rotor broach to drill holes received an electric shock. Moisture entered into internal electrical components because a gland had pulled out of the portable drill.
NSW – an apprentice received an electric shock after a roof was replaced. The electricity supply had been isolated for the replacement work but the shock occurred after the supply was restored. A roofing screw had penetrated a cable that went over the roof truss/joist. The apprentice had to kick the ladder out from under himself to break contact. He fell to the ground approximately 2 metres.

Prosecutions
QLD – contractor fined $2,400, licence suspended for 6 months and was required to complete training following a resident receiving an electric shock from an appliance after he did some rewiring and added new powerpoints. The earth cable was open circuit and ‘energised’.
QLD  – a council aquatic centre has been fined $85,000 after a worker contacted 110kV  overhead powerlines with a pool cleaning tool.
QLD – Nov 2023 Disciplinary Actions
QLD – Dec 2023 Disciplinary Actions
Vic – Wagyu beef producer fined $140,000 because a 29 year old employee that was stacking bales of hay at a feedlot was electrocuted. A telehandler attached to a flatbed truck touched overhead powerlines. The company failed in its duty by not establishing an exclusion zone around the powerline and failed to instruct employees on risk management for the hazard.
VIC – 153 successful health and safety prosecutions in 2023 with over $16M in fines including those for fatalities. The risk of fall from heights being the key compliance issues. Duty holders were also forced to spend a combined $1.2M to improve WHS knowledge and outcomes.

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