Power station charged over workplace arc flash death

Monday, 10 January, 2022

Power station charged over workplace arc flash death

WorkSafe Victoria has charged Energy Australia Yallourn Pty Ltd with three breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, following an incident which led to the death of an employee in 2018. The worker, Graeme Edwards, died in hospital after being severely burned by an arc flash that occurred while he was returning to service, or racking, a 6.6 kV circuit breaker at Yallourn power station. The arc flash allegedly occurred when a cable Edwards was connecting made contact with live components of the circuit breaker due to a defectively attached ‘infill’ panel in the cubicle where it was being installed.

Energy Australia allegedly breached Section 21(1) and 21(2) of the OHS Act when it failed to provide plant that was, so far as reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health; failed to provide information, instruction and training in accordance with its operating manual; and failed to provide and maintain systems of work that were safe and without risks to health in that they failed to provide and require arc-rated personal protective equipment.

The charges laid by WorkSafe Victoria followed a review by the DPP. All WorkSafe decisions to prosecute are made in accordance with its General Prosecution Guidelines, which require it to consider whether there is sufficient evidence to support a reasonable prospect of conviction and whether bringing a prosecution is in the public interest. The matter will be addressed at a filing hearing at the Latrobe Valley Magistrates’ Court on 13 January 2022.

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

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