WA electrician fined $27,000 for potentially fatal error
Santo Sgroi, a North Perth electrician, has been found guilty of breaching WA’s electricity licensing regulations and fined more than $27,000 for a potentially lethal wiring error that caused two tradesmen to receive electric shocks at a building site near Rockingham. A criminal trial at Perth Magistrates Court on 10 June 2020 found that Sgroi attended a Golden Bay property on 25 August 2015 to transfer an energy consumption meter from a temporary installation used by buildings to the main switchboard at a new home.
Sgroi was privately employed and carrying out the work as part of Western Power’s Contractor Connect Scheme, which permits accredited electricians to connect some new installations to the utility’s network. Sgroi has since been removed from the scheme. After Sgroi left the property, a tiler and a gas fitter working on the house sustained electric shocks in separate incidents after touching the main switchboard; though the gas worker was hospitalised, neither worker sustained serious injuries.
A Western Power inspector found that the connection of the active and neutral load conductors at the meter was transposed, causing the surrounding earthed metal components to become live with electricity. During the trial, Sgroi’s defence team argued that the incorrect wiring could have occurred due to vandalism or tampering after he had left the site. However, Magistrate Thomas Hall found that there was no evidence of any third party having been in contact with the meter. The Magistrate also noted that although Sgroi was an experienced electrician, he had failed a Contractor Connect Scheme audit one month after the incident.
The Magistrate found that the only reasonable inference was that Sgroi caused the transposition and failed to test the meter properly, causing the two electric shocks. Sgroi was fined $5000 and ordered to pay $22,214 in costs.
“Fortunately they were not seriously injured, but they could have been killed,” the Magistrate said.
In November 2017, Western Power was fined $50,000 in relation to the same incident because Sgroi was an authorised worker for the network operator.
“The job is not done until all the required checks and tests are carried out and recorded diligently and methodically. There is no excuse for cutting corners with any area of electrical work because of the potentially deadly consequences,” said Saj Abdoolakhan, WA’s Director of Energy Safety.
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