Electrician fined after leaving live switchboard in classroom

Tuesday, 06 February, 2024

Electrician fined after leaving live switchboard in classroom

An electrician contracted to install air-conditioning units at a Sunshine Coast school has been fined for leaving a live switchboard exposed in a classroom.

The contractor had been instructed to cease work in one of the temporary classrooms, but he ignored the instruction and started live testing on the switchboard inside.

For a short period of time, he left the live switchboard unattended, with the escutcheon panel removed and live terminals exposed.

QBuild officers who were at the school at the same time saw the switchboard open and reported the offence to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.

The electrician pleaded guilty to offences under the Electrical Safety Act including failing to conduct his business in a way that was electrically safe and exposing individuals to risk of death or injury.

The presiding magistrate noted this was a serious offence as schoolchildren who are “naturally inquisitive” and “unpredictable beings” could easily have been exposed to risk.

Mitigating factors in the case included an early guilty plea and the fact that this was a first offence. The defendant also voluntarily agreed to undertake a retraining course, and further courses mandated by the Electrical Licensing Committee at a cost of $1000, as an expression of genuine remorse.

Based on the mitigating factors presented, Magistrate McLaughlin said that he would ordinarily have sentenced the defendant to a $15,000–$20,000 fine. However, taking into account the defendant’s very limited income over several years, which the magistrate equated to “minimum wage” earnings, he imposed a fine of $10,000. No conviction was recorded.

Image credit: iStock.com/wesvandinter

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