Working De-Energised

I continue to ‘rabbit on’ about no working ‘live’ and this important topic keeps popping every day. Today’s two reminders were:
1. I was tidying up some notes this morning and found an article in an Electrical Connection magazine from 2006 titled ‘Working – dead or live’ where Phil Kreveld says “This ought to be the shortest article in any issue of Electrical Connection, for the simple reason that no work should be done on live installations.”
2. I also found, while tidying up, a NSW Workcover document titled “Attitudes and Work Practices of Electrician Report Summary 2002”. The document details questions asked of electricians and one of the top responses for safe things that electricians should do was “Stay alive by working dead” but on the flip side, the top response for unsafe things an electrician can do was “Working on live circuits when they don’t need to.”

Working ‘live’ is against the law in Australia

Simile, electricians were also surveyed to why they get electric shocks, and they had a similar answer to that previously. This clearly indicates electricians know right and wrong, but continue to do the wrong thing resulting in an electrician dying every few months in Australia. Nothing has changed in over 20 years….
Other than the above, I was recently training a group of mining electricians and engineers and was often discussing that working ‘live’ was against the law. A breakdown electrician argued that I shouldn’t say this as there are exemptions to the “no working live”. In my opinion, the exemptions generally don’t stack up and I would argue this in court if I was called upon to do so. It is highly probable that the breakdown electrician mentioned is fault finding ‘live’.
I was also presenting at a mining safety conference last year and asked the question “How many of you have electricians working ‘live’.” No one responded but I would think they do, especially when fault finding.
Interestingly, posters and adverts from electrical safety regulators, pushing the ‘no working live’ message, don’t have little riders on the posters or adverts that detail that it is Ok to work ‘live’ if……..
The opening address at the 2021 Mine Electrical Safety Conference in Brisbane was conducted by Trevor Brown, Deputy Chief Inspector of Mines, Mineral Mines & Quarries Inspectorate, Resources Safety & Health Qld. Trevor gave a strongly worded talked that detailed that working ‘live’ would not be tolerated. He didn’t say, except for fault finding….
Daniel is always at me that I can’t be a father figure to all and that I should look to help people instead of lecturing. Ok, so what do electricians need to do? Stay tuned as I will expand on this in the near future but simply, NEVER WORK LIVE even when fault finding.

Chris Halliday
Electrical Safety Advocate and Specialist Trainer

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