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The following article is a general news item provided for the benefit of members. Its contents do not necessarily reflect the views of the Safety Institute of Australia.
Wednesday, 9 January, 2019 - 11:30
Policy & legislation
Northern Territory

NT WorkSafe recently issued a safety alert highlighting potential electrical safety risks when entering and working in ceiling spaces of commercial and residential buildings.

The alert was issued following an incident in which a worker running fibre optic cable in a ceiling space received an electric shock after making contact with damaged electrical wiring.

The worker had lost the battery from his torch and was trying to find it in the dark when his hand touched a section of electrical wiring which had been damaged by rodents.

The worker was extracted from the ceiling space and taken for medical observation. He was later cleared of any medical effects resulting from the shock.

There were two contributing factors:

  • The power was not switched off at the switchboard.
  • The electrical wiring in the ceiling space had been damaged by rodents.


The safety alert subsequently recommended a number of required actions:

  • Before entering a ceiling space, switch off all power at the switchboard and take steps to prevent the power from being switched back on until the ceiling space has been vacated.
  • Conduct a risk assessment of the ceiling space and identify any hazards before entering to start work. Hazards could include:
    • Rodents or reptiles such as snakes
    • High temperatures
    • Sharp objects in roof trusses and ceiling joists, such as protruding screws and nails.
    • Location of water pipes and electrical wiring, including wiring from solar panels.