2015-2016 Horror period for electrical workers

The previous 12 month period has seen the death of 4 electrical workers in Victoria. This is the worst result for electrical worker fatalities for any state or territory in either Australia or New Zealand

All of these workers were young men in their early to mid-twenties and have died whilst performing quite typical electrical work. All of these young men were loved members of their families, community groups, work networks and circle of friends.

These fatalities have to ring alarm bells to all of us as electrical workers that we need to be working safely, taking all necessary precautions and setting an example to all of those around us.

These fatalities and the serious electrical injuries that we continually investigate show to us time and again that we are not taking adequate precautions, not isolating, not testing, and taking short cuts at work. Remember that the difference between an electrical incident or injury and a fatality is usually very minor.

We have to change our safety culture in the electrical industry.

It may seem like a pain:

  • to wear LV gloves whilst testing, but if you are in the proximity of live parts, using LV gloves whilst testing can be all that is necessary to prevent injury or death.
  • to get out of a roof space, or disrupt a working facility to isolate a circuit, but that is what is required of you and may save a life.
  • to teach our young electrical workers to take all necessary precautions each and every time whilst carrying out electrical work, but that is what is required of all of us.

If you wouldn’t expect or want a loved one, such as your brother or daughter, to take short cuts or work unsafely, then don’t accept it from those around you at work.

Remember that apprentices are trying to please, gain acceptance, fit in and don’t know any better than what you, as their supervisor or peer, are prepared to teach them.

ESV cannot implore you strongly enough to train the apprentices you are supervising to keep themselves safe, test the installation you are working on, isolate circuits to be worked on and lock them off. Encourage apprentices to ask questions and allow them to feel confident to say ‘No’ if they don’t feel safe or are unsure.

Refer to Australian Standard AS/NZS 4836 Safe working on or near low-voltage electrical installation and equipment. If you don’t already have and work to this standard, change that ASAP.

We all have a duty of care to our apprentices and those we may influence, to make sure they have long and bright futures in our industry, and to go home safely to their families and loved ones at the end of every day.

Energy Safe Victoria is launching a new campaign in 2017 in an effort to improve safety outcomes for electrical workers. We will start by presenting to first year apprentices and then we will be targeting the employers and supervisors of apprentices. This campaign will be ongoing and we need all electrical workers to get on board.