Company fined $10K for unsupervised apprentice

Friday, 25 June, 2021

Company fined $10K for unsupervised apprentice

A first-year electrical apprentice with only two months' experience was left to work unsupervised with live equipment, resulting in his employer being convicted and fined $10,000. The company pleaded guilty to the charge of 'failing to provide the supervision necessary for employees to perform their work safely and without risk to health' in Melbourne Magistrates' Court last week.

WorkSafe Victoria reported that the apprentice was working unsupervised installing electrical cables into a live switchboards and installing solar panels with no edge protection on a double-storey property.

The Court heard that the company's director, who held a valid electrical licence, had not been on site since earlier that day.

The apprentice had no formal training in the work that he was directed to perform. The equipment he was handling at the time was energised.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said it was never acceptable for apprentice electricians to undertake work without being effectively supervised by qualified electricians.

"This incident could have easily ended in tragedy," she said.

"It is vital that inexperienced workers are properly supervised, trained to perform their tasks safely, and encouraged to speak up or ask questions if they are unsure or feel unsafe."

Tips from Work Safe Victoria to undertake 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.

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