SafeWork NSW launches electrical safety blitz
SafeWork NSW inspectors have commenced an electrical compliance operation to increase the safety and awareness of electrical hazards on worksites. Head of SafeWork NSW Natasha Mann said contact with overhead and underground powerlines, unsafe or non-compliant wiring and faulty or damaged equipment continues to harm workers, adding that working with and around electricity can have fatal consequences.
As part of the electrical compliance operations, inspectors will be engaging with businesses and employees to educate on risk and workforce compliance. Between June 2020 and October 2021, compensation claims show contact with electricity resulted in two fatalities, 569 serious injuries and more than 400 dangerous incidents.
“Tragically a 35-year-old man was killed in Earlwood last year when he handled energised wires while completing work on an electrical circuit beneath a house. A 24-year-old man also recently suffered serious burns when he touched a live electrical circuit and caused an arc flash explosion at a construction site in Sydney’s north-west,” Mann said.
According to Mann, five additional penalties for things such as failing to conduct a risk assessment or follow overhead/underground powerline controls have recently been introduced. These breaches attract on-the-spot fines of up to $3600 for businesses and $720 for individuals. Mann said that onsite electrical work should only ever be conducted by a licensed person; if they are young or inexperienced, they always need to be supervised.
“Electric shock is the second leading cause of death in the construction industry. During these compliance visits we will be taking a zero-tolerance approach toward anyone not adequately protecting themselves or others against electrical risks at their workplace,” Mann said.
Business owners, machinery operators and others working near powerlines are advised to use the Look up and Live application and Before You Dig Australia tools to check the location of infrastructure assets and powerlines. Further information about electrical safety can be found here.
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