Company fined $25,000 over electric shock

07-06-2011

A Melbourne company has been fined $25,000 over an electric shock incident that left a worker with third degree burns to almost half of his body.

The sub-contractor received more than 22,000 volts after he came into contact with a power line while working on a roof at a Mulgrave warehouse on August 18 2007.

The man’s employer, Asbestos Audits Pty Ltd, pleaded guilty at the Dandenong Magistrates’ Court to failing to provide a safe workplace.

The Croydon North man had been instructed by Asbestos Audits to steer an elevated work platform dangerously close to high voltage power lines so he could work on the warehouse’s roof.

He suffered an electric shock and third degree burns to 45 per cent to his body after the

platform hit the power line as it was raised.

The court was told the man has since suffered from depression and post traumatic stress, endured four skin grafts, is not allowed to expose his skin to sunlight and cannot properly regulate his body temperature.

WorkSafe’s investigation found the man was put at risk as he was placed in an area classified as a “No Go Zone.”

The acting Director of WorkSafe’s Construction and Utilities Division, Allan Beacom, said No Go Zones were areas where strict procedures must be implemented.

“Not doing so greatly increases the risk of direct contact with power lines or of electricity arcing up to three metres from them,” he said. 

“This case shows the consequences can be instant and last a lifetime.”

WorkSafe’s investigation found Asbestos Audits failed to:

  • Obtain permission from the electrical company or develop a safe system to perform the work in accordance with the No Go Zone guidelines.
  • Provide training on how to safely work at heights or in No Go Zones.

Magistrate Brandt fined the Asbestos Audits $25,000, without conviction.

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