Aquatic centre fined following electric shock

Tuesday, 30 January, 2024

Aquatic centre fined following electric shock

A Queensland aquatic centre has been fined $85,000 after one of its workers contacted overhead powerlines with a pool-cleaning tool.

In February 2022, while cleaning a pool at the council-run aquatic centre, the worker suffered an electric shock when the equipment he was using contacted 110 kV uninsulated powerlines. In addition to the shock, the worker sustained minor electrical burns.

The centre pleaded guilty to failing to ensure its business or undertaking was conducted in a way that was electrically safe, and exposing an individual to risk of death or serious injury.

An investigation by Queensland’s Electrical Safety Office found the aquatic centre did not mandate exclusion zones around the powerlines when staff were using pool equipment, did not install a safety barrier between the powerlines and the pool area, did not install caution signs and did not reduce the risk by purchasing non-conductive pool cleaning tools.

The centre also failed to complete a risk assessment for pool cleaning and provide training for working near overhead powerlines.

Electrical Safety Office Head Donna Heelan emphasised the importance of exclusion zones in preventing this type of incident. Prescribed by law, exclusion zones specify the minimum safe distance a person or equipment can be in relation to live powerlines.

“Working near powerlines can be fatal. Touching them or straying into the exclusion zone around them can result in a serious electric shock or electrocution,” Heelan warned.

“It is important to remember that you do not even need to come into contact with the powerlines — electricity can arc or jump across gaps.

“It’s critical to develop a safe system of work before you start, keep your workers and contractors informed about electrical safety and avoid going into exclusion zones to reduce the risk to you, your workers and the community,” she concluded.

At Beenleigh Magistrates Court, the centre was ordered to pay a fine of $80,000 along with $5000 to the injured worker and $1601.40 total in costs.

For more information about working near powerlines and electrical cables, visit the WorkSafe Queensland website.

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