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, 14 November, 2018 - 11:00
Incidents & prosecutions
A Melbourne electrical company has been convicted and fined $300,000 after an unsupervised, third-year apprentice electrician died from electrocution while laying cables at a Camberwell property.
3 Point Electrics pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court to two charges under section 21 of the OHS Act for failing to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that the workplace was safe and without risk to health, and for failing to provide the supervision as was necessary for employees to perform their work safely and without risk to health.
The company was also ordered to pay $6067 in costs.
The court heard how the 26-year-old apprentice was sent to the property alone to install cables in preparation for a new smoke alarm in August, 2016.
He was working on the roof when his hand contacted an exposed live wire, electrocuting him.
A firefighter who attended the scene found that all the circuit-breakers on the switchboard were in the on position.
WorkSafe Victoria’s investigation also found the company failed to prepare a Safe Work Method Statement for the work.
It was unacceptable for apprentice electricians to undertake electrical work without being effectively supervised by qualified electricians, said WorkSafe Victoria’s head of hazardous industries and industry practice, Michael Coffey.
“Mature-aged apprentices are becoming more common so employers need to remember that age does not necessarily relate to experience or competency.”
“It is vital all inexperienced workers are effectively supervised, trained to perform their tasks safely, and encouraged to speak up or ask questions if they are unsure about something,” Coffey said.
WorkSafe Victoria provided a number of tips for electricians to work safely:
Always de-energise and lock-out the switchboard or circuit to be worked on.
Always test for live to ensure all parts are de-energised before starting or restarting work.
If working on or near an energised installation, ensure a Safe Work Method Statement is developed and adhered to.
Ensure apprentices are effectively supervised.
If the power cannot be turned off, reschedule the work to a time when the power can be isolated.