Electrical incidents, death a wake-up call for industry

Energy Safe Victoria

Tuesday, 19 September, 2023

Electrical incidents, death a wake-up call for industry

The occurrence in Victoria of three electrical incidents and one death in two months is serving as a wake-up call for the industry to be stringent when it comes to safety.

On 5 September, an electrical worker fell from an incomplete stair void scaffold system at a domestic construction site and died from his injuries.

“Our thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of the electrician who died,” said Energy Safe Victoria CEO Leanne Hughson. “This is a tragedy that should not have happened.”

The fatality came after three other serious electrical incidents.

On 4 July, an electrician was hospitalised with burns after he pierced a live cable with his pliers at a residential property in Clifton Hill, causing an explosion.

On 22 July, a 29-year-old electrician was hospitalised with burns caused by an arc fault from a live switchboard at a Burwood East office complex. The electrician’s gloves melted into his skin after he made contact with live switchboard components.

On 30 August, a switchboard tester suffered an electric shock and was resuscitated after coming into contact with live electrical equipment when carrying out live testing of a newly manufactured switchboard.

“Three serious injuries and a fatality is too much in too short a space of time. These incidents could have been avoided if proper electrical safety and occupational health and safety precautions were taken,” Hughson said.

“Even one death or serious injury is one too many. To have so many in such a short space of time is unacceptable,” she added.

“While the circumstances around these incidents are under investigation, all electrical workers should know the basics of electrical safety. No-one should be working live. Electricity supply should be isolated before electrical work starts and effective supervision should be provided to all electrical workers, particularly apprentices.”

Energy Safe Victoria is urging electrical workers to ensure an assessment of potential risks has been conducted before commencing work, with time taken to identify possible risk factors. The safety body advises workers to:

  • isolate the electricity supply to ensure electrical risks are eliminated before works commence;
  • ensure appropriate personal protective equipment is used when assessing an installation or live testing; and
  • understand the age of the installation and its configuration.

For more information and resources, visit Never Work Live and Licensed Electrical Worker responsibilities.

Image credit: iStock.com/simonkr

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