Electrical safety must not be taken for granted

Tuesday, 09 October, 2012

Master Electricians Australia (MEA) has urged Sydney contractors and tradies to remain diligent with electrical safety precautions following two separate incidents late last week where one man received burns to 90% of his body and another man died.

MEA New South Wales State Manager Jody McGann said the devastating death of a 24-year-old man who received an electric shock when installing an air-conditioning unit in Miranda and another man who was badly shocked while working on a lift in the city, served as a reminder of the potential dangers of working with electricity.

“These recent incidents should serve as a wake-up call to everyone that electrical safety should not be taken for granted. The difference between life and death or serious injury is the flick of a switch,” McGann said.

“You should never work live if it can be avoided. A serious accident can be easily avoided by turning the mains power off before you carry out any electrical work.

“Performing electrical work on live equipment should only be done as the last resort. Simply saving time or money is not a good enough reason to seriously put your life in danger.”

McGann also reminded homeowners not to attempt to carry out electrical work around their homes.

“Messing around with electrics is tricky business and it’s not worth putting your own life, and those of your loved ones, at risk,” she said.

“Our research shows around 15 people are killed and 300 hospitalised every year as a result of injuries from electric shocks at home - accidents that could be easily prevented by taking the necessary precautions of turning off your main power and by having a safety switch installed.

“Sadly, more than 20 years after safety switches became compulsory on power circuits in new homes, many houses still do not have them fitted, and very few have them on every circuit.”

A safety switch can detect an electric shock and cut the flow of power in a few hundredths of a second, faster than the critical phase of a heartbeat.

“Injury or death can come from something as simple as a child removing toast from a toaster with a knife, a home handyman drilling a hole in a wall to hang a picture or even stormwater penetrating into a light fitting or power point.”

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