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Workers and contractors fined, lose licences for breaches

Failing to implement a safe system of work has cost electrical contracting businesses and workers months in licence suspension and thousands in fines.

In March and April 2022, the Queensland Electrical Licensing Committee took disciplinary action against 11 licence holders. Six of those electrical contractors faced disciplinary action for failing to implement a safe system of work.

A further four incidents resulted in workers receiving significant injuries due to arc flashes, including two when workers were working on battery energy storage systems. In one instance the worker had no formal training or experience with the type of battery system. The worker in the other instance had not been adequately trained or competency tested in battery system installation.

The committee’s actions were in addition to fines and notices already issued by the Electrical Safety Office.

 

Apprentice shocked by unterminated cable

What happened

An electrical worker failed to adequately supervise an electrical apprentice performing electrical work. He didn’t make an unterminated submain cable at the load end safe, or ensure other workers locked out at the isolation point.

Due to a failure of safe systems of work practices and a lack of understanding of lock out, tag out and testing procedures, the cable was not identified as being energised. The apprentice contacted the energised cable, receiving an electric shock and severe burns to his hands.

Disciplinary action

The workers’ licence was suspended for three months, and he must complete competency units prior to the disqualification being lifted. He was issued with a caution and a $500 fine which will be listed on the licensing public register for three years.

Unsupervised apprentice shocked, authorities not informed

What happened

An electrical contractor failed to implement a safe system of work to ensure electrical work was not carried out on electrical equipment while energised. An unsupervised electrical apprentice inadvertently contacted an energised cable and received an electric shock.

After the incident occurred, the contractor failed to notify the Electrical Safety Office within three days and did not complete adequate or timely incident investigations.

Disciplinary action

The contractor’s licence was suspended for six months. He must complete two approved electrical safety system audits from an independent auditor, competency training and a training course in incident investigation, prior to the suspension being lifted

He was issued with a caution and a $1,500 fine which will be listed on the licensing public register for three years.

Property owner shocked after PV installed

What happened

An electrical worker failed to ensure the completion of mandatory tests and adequately supervise a fourth-year electrical apprentice during the installation of a new PV system, relocation of the main switchboard and upgrade of the consumers mains from the point of entry.

The consumers mains were connected with a transposed polarity connection at the mains connection box, resulting in the property owner receiving electric shocks due to a rise in potential on the electrical installation earthing system.

The site was later attended by Energex crews who isolated supply to make electrically safe and undertook rectification.

The worker indicated that the apprentice completed the work, but he did not check it and testing consisted of turning on the main switch and circuit protective devices and seeing if the light came back on inside.

Disciplinary action

The worker’s licence was suspended for three months, and he must complete competency units prior to the suspension being lifted. He was issued with a caution and a $300 fine.

Person shocked after unsupervised work was not checked

What happened

An electrical contractor failed to implement safe systems of work and procedures to ensure all workers were completing mandatory testing on electrical work. Not completing mandatory tests meant reverse polarity was not identified and someone received an electric shock. The contractor also failed to ensure the work was adequately supervised by a QTP.

Disciplinary action

The contractor’s licence was suspended for six months, and he must complete two approved electrical safety system audits from an independent auditor. His QTPs must complete competency units and produce evidence of test and completed inspection and test documentation from previous installations prior to the suspension being lifted. The contractor was issued with a reprimand and a $600 fine.

Arc flash after equipment not de-energised

What happened

An electrical worker failed to de-energise electrical equipment while performing electrical work near it and failed to test to ensure it was electrically safe. He contacted the energised parts of the main board, resulting in an arc flash, sustaining significant burns requiring hospitalisation.

Disciplinary action

The worker’s licence was suspended for three months, and he must complete competency units prior to the suspension being lifted. He was also issued with a caution.

Burns from arc flash following work carried out by unverified worker

What happened

An electrical contractor failed to implement effective safe systems of work and adequate control measures to prevent electrical risk to people. The worker performing the work was also not verified as competent.

As a result, an electrical worker sustained significant burns from an arc flash.

Disciplinary action

The contractor’s licence was suspended for six months, and he must complete two approved electrical safety system audits from an independent auditor. His QTPs must complete competency units and provide a signed copy of live work and working near energised equipment policy prior to the suspension being lifted. The contractor was issued with a reprimand and a $400 fine.

Several people shocked after tests not completed

What happened

An electrical worker failed to identify risk and follow a safe system of work to ensure all mandatory tests were completed while disconnecting and relocating a point of attachment and installation of new consumer mains.

The consumer mains was connected with reverse polarity at the point of supply mains connection box and several people received electric shocks.

Disciplinary action

The worker’s licence was suspended for three months, and he must complete competency units prior to the disqualification being lifted. He was issued with a caution and a $500 fine.

Occupants shocked after non-compliant work conducted

What happened

An electrical contractor failed to implement safe systems of work, procedures and training to ensure workers completed mandatory tests, and the work carried out was electrically safe and compliant with the Wiring Rules and Electrical Safety Regulation s71.

While replacing the consumers mains, an electrical worker did not install a neutral conductor between the meter box and the main switchboard, resulting in the occupants receiving electric shocks due to a rise in potential on the electrical installation earthing system.

Disciplinary action

The contractor’s licence was suspended for six months and must complete two approved electrical safety system audits from an independent auditor and have his QTPs complete competency units prior to the suspension being lifted. He was issued with a reprimand and a $1,200 fine.

Arc flash when untrained worker installed battery system

What happened

An electrical worker received an arc flash while installing a battery energy storage system (BESS). He had no previous experience in this type of BESS system and no formal training.

He failed to identify the risks and didn’t perform the work in an electrically safe way which resulted in a short-circuit caused by the incorrect connection of the battery supplies.

Disciplinary action

His licence was suspended for three months, and he must complete competency units prior to the disqualification being lifted. He was issued with a caution and a $300 penalty.

Untrained worker receives arc flash burns on battery install

What happened

An electrical contractor failed to ensure employees were adequately trained and competent in the installation of battery energy storage systems (BESS). A worker incorrectly connected the batteries which caused a short-circuit from an incorrect connection and resulted in the worker receiving arc flash burns.

The electrical work was not performed safely, and the contractor failed to implement safe systems of work in relation to BESS and failed to identify the risk of arc flash from incorrectly connecting the batteries.

Disciplinary action

The contractor’s licence was suspended for six months and must complete an approved electrical safety system audit from an independent auditor and have his QTPs complete competency units. He was issued with a caution and a $1,000 fine.

Multiple workers shocked following untested work

What happened

An electrical contractor failed to implement safe systems of work and procedures to ensure workers completed all mandatory tests.

A worker connected a consumer mains with reverse polarity at the point of the supply mains connection box and did not test it, resulting in multiple workers receiving electric shocks while attempting to access a roof using a metal ladder.

Disciplinary action

The contractor’s licence was suspended for six months, and he must complete an approved electrical safety system audit from an independent auditor. His QTPs must complete competency units prior to the suspension being lifted. He was issued a caution and a $1,000 fine.

 

ME Safety subscribers have access to Safe Work Method Statement templates; business, policy office and workplace manuals; and safety data sheets. If you need help to make sure your workplace is safe phone the MEA Safety hotline. Speak direct to the experts, phone 1300 889 198. 

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