Electrical Incidents and Prosecutions (Feb – March 24)

The following electrical incidents and prosecutions are but a sample of those occurring 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.

Incident and Prosecution Analysis
It becomes apparent from the incidents below, that it is more important than ever that all measures are taken to prevent incidents. These include but not limited to (in no particular order):

  • Adequate supervision
  • Look up and live/dial before dig – use their website
  • Processes are documented and staff trained in those policies and procedures
  • Staff MUST follow policies and procedures
  • Risk assessment before any work
  • Conduct toolbox talks, audits, and coaching sessions

Electrical Incidents and Near Misses
NSW – testing revealed 18 ‘live wires’ after an isolation procedure was followed. The ‘live wires’ were only found after scaffolding had been installed and guards on the equipment removed. Correct drawings and labelling are important and ‘test before touching’. The latter prevented a serious injury or worse.
NSW – an electrician found switchroom doors impeded by storage of spares and trash. Compliance with Rule from the Wiring Rules had been breached. Prominent signage and floor markings are important to ensure access or egress in an emergency. Housekeeping audits are also important to prevent this issue.
NSW – 2 light fittings were damaged during scaffolding installation. One light fell after melting. Another external light had been removed to allow the scaffolding installation, but the supply was not isolated.
NSW – A jib crane electrical panel door fell 5 metres to the ground. Door latches had either vibrated open or had not been secured properly during maintenance.
NSW – power capacitors with exposed terminals had been stored without being shorted.
QLD – an electrical worker at an underground Bowen basin mine gained access to an electrical enclosure on a transportable substation and suffered arc flash injuries to his arms. It appears that procedures were not followed.
QLD – a Brisbane electrician received an electric shock while fixing an air conditioner on the roof of a business and died days later in hospital.
QLD – a mobile plant operator at a civil construction site received an electric shock when the plant made contact with overhead powerlines. The worker was revived and transported to hospital.
VIC – 2 separate incidents during the decanting and blending of flammable liquids resulting in 2 fatalities and other serious injuries. The incidents are believed to have occurred when static electricity discharged within a hazardous area that resulted in an explosion and fire.

Prosecutions and Inquests
QLD – contractor left a switchboard unattended with exposed live terminals. The contractor had previously been issued a cease notice. He was fined $10,000 and no conviction was recorded.
QLD – Feb 2023 Disciplinary Actions
VIC – inquest findings into the death of a 19-year-old apprentice working alone repairing an air conditioning unit: he was not adequately supervised, not qualified to work unsupervised, failed to test de-energised, and he did not take the role on himself but was required to do the work.
WA – Lineworker employed by Western Power, at the time of incident, has been fined $10,500 following an incident that left his apprentice unconscious and burnt from electric shock. The job was to repair a fire damage pole. The apprentice received an initial shock, adjusted his ladder and resumed work but was knocked unconscious and burnt. The lineworker had completed paperwork to say the powerline had been tested ‘dead’ and ‘earthed’ but had not completed these steps. The apprentice wasn’t wearing suitable protective clothing.
WA – an electrical contractor has been fined $12,000 for taking 6 weeks to report that a third-year apprentice received an electric shock. The apprentice had been disconnection cables in a ceiling space when he received the shock.

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