WorkSafe NZ Prosecution Corner - October

01 Oct 2016

A WorkSafe NZ Case:

A Dunedin electricity network provider has been fined $35,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $49,600 after a worker fell six metres after a low voltage arc on lines he was working on caused them to fall.

The company had earlier pleaded guilty and was sentenced under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (HSE) for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the employee was not exposed to the hazard of electricity.

What went wrong:

The worker was completing a service connection and the WorkSafe NZ investigation found the worker did not disconnect the power supply before working on the line.

They were using a crescent spanner and made contact with the line causing a low voltage arc which resulted in them falling to the ground. Suffering leg fractures, a fractured vertebra, they are still unfit for work and continue to receive medical treatment.

Lessons learnt:

  1. The company should have had an effective policy in place requiring a worker to eliminate of the risk of such an incident (disconnecting the power at the road).
  2. Provide guidance to workers for how to eliminate the risk.
  3. Elimination is preferable over isolation.