WA network operator fined for inadequate testing procedures

Wednesday, 27 April, 2022

WA network operator fined for inadequate testing procedures

Western Power (also known as the Electricity Networks Corporation) has been fined $45,000 for not providing adequate testing instructions, which could have detected an electrical error that caused almost $600 of damage at a Lancelin property. The sentencing follows Western Power’s earlier guilty plea for failing to reasonably ensure that work on its network was carried out safely, as required by Western Australia’s Electricity (Network Safety) Regulations 2015. Under the regulations, Western Power is responsible for prescribed work by its staff and contractors on the network, and it must provide them with sufficient instructions.

According to facts presented in court by Building and Energy, a Perth electrician was contracted by Western Power to replace a three-phase, kilowatt-hour meter at a Lancelin home in October 2019. However, the electrician failed to connect the load neutral conductor, which caused voltage rises and damage to lights and appliances at the property. The meter replacement testing instructions provided by Western Power to its workers and contractors did not include a final neutral integrity test, which is outlined in the Australian Standards and would have detected the fault.

During sentencing, Magistrate Michelle Harries ordered Western Power to pay $1998.50 in costs and criticised its slow progress to address issues relating to the incident. Harries considered Western Power’s cooperation, early guilty plea and compensation for the property damage, but added that the network operator should expedite a review of its procedures given the risks to community safety.

Building and Energy’s Director of Electrical, Gas and Plumbing Compliance, Matthew Peacock, said network operators must provide their workers and contractors with comprehensive instructions. “A high volume of meter replacements continue across the network, so it is imperative that electricians working at the frontline are equipped with the right information to ensure the work is completed to a safe standard. The testing regimes must reflect the Australian Standards and include all mandatory testing to enable detection of dangerous errors and other issues,” said Peacock.

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

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