Electrical company fined $10K for unsupervised apprentice

Friday, 25 June, 2021

Electrical company fined $10K for unsupervised apprentice

An electrical company has been convicted and fined $10,000 for leaving a first-year apprentice with only two months’ experience to work unsupervised with live equipment. Community Energy Group, trading as Space Solar, pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing to provide the supervision necessary for employees to perform their work safely and without risk to health.

On 19 June 2019, two Energy Safe Victoria officers observed an apprentice installing solar panels on a property at Craigieburn. Further inquiries that the apprentice was working unsupervised, installing electrical cables into a live switchboard, and installing solar panels with no edge protection on a double-storey property. The company’s director, who held a valid electrical licence, had not been on site since earlier that day. The apprentice had no formal training in the work he was directed to person; the equipment he was handling at the time was energised.

WorkSafe Victoria Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said it was never acceptable for apprentice electricians to undertake work without being supervised by qualified electricians.

“This incident could have easily ended in tragedy. It is vital that inexperienced workers are properly supervised, trained to perform their tasks safely, and encouraged to speak up or ask questions if they are unsure or feel unsafe,” said Nielsen.

To work safely, electricians should always de-energise and lock out the switchboard or circuit to be worked on. When working on or near an energised installation, electricians should ensure a safe work method statement is developed and adhered to. When power cannot be shut off, the work should be rescheduled to a time when the power can be isolated. Electricians should also test for live to ensure all parts are de-energised before starting or restarting work. Additionally, apprentices should always be effectively supervised.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/mmphoto

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