Wiring error causes electric shocks for homeowner
A WA court has heard that a homeowner in Bridgetown in the state’s south-west received multiple electric shocks caused by a dangerous wiring error that a Manjimup electrician failed to detect. The electrician and an apprentice under his supervision had attended the Bridgetown property in February 2022 to replace a private power pole.
As part of the work, overhead sub-mains cables were connected to the house from a mains connection box on the new pole. The apprentice carried out the wiring work in the mains connection box.
Two days later, the property owner contacted Western Power to report receiving electric shocks from the oven and shower. An inspection by Western Power revealed the active and neutral conductors were transposed at the mains connection box, causing earthed metal components in the house to become live with electricity.
The supervising electrician was found to have breached WA’s Electricity (Licensing) Regulations 1991 by not visually inspecting the electrical installation work to verify its compliance with wiring rules.
As the supervising electrical worker, he was responsible for inspecting the apprentice’s wiring. A visual check would have clearly identified the transposed active and neutral conductors, the court was told.
On 26 October 2023 at Manjimup Magistrates Court, Magistrate Michelle Harries ordered the electrician to pay a $5000 fine as well as costs of $537.15. Harries noted the electrician’s early guilty plea, remorse and lack of prior misconduct, but emphasised the seriousness of the offence, which had potentially life-threatening consequences.
WA’s Director of Energy Safety, Saj Abdoolakhan, said that the property owner was extremely lucky to have avoided a serious or even fatal injury, and that a simple visual check would have immediately revealed the wiring error.
“This case is a clear example of why checks and tests of all electrical installing work are mandatory. There is no place for complacency when the stakes are so high,” Abdoolakhan said.
“It is also a timely reminder to electrical contractors and supervising electrical workers about their responsibilities for apprentices.”
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