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Electric shock results in $85,000 fine for aquatic centre


23 January 2024

A council run aquatic centre was fined $85,000 in the Beenleigh Magistrates Court following an incident where a worker contacted overhead powerlines with a pool-cleaning tool.

In February 2022, a worker suffered an electric shock when the equipment he was using contacted 110kV, uninsulated powerlines while he was cleaning a pool at the aquatic centre.

The defendant pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the business or undertaking was conducted in a way that was electrically safe and exposing an individual to risk of death or serious injury. As a result of this failure, the worker suffered an electric shock and received minor electrical burns.

The Electrical Safety Office's investigation found the defendant did not mandate exclusion zones around the powerlines when staff were using pool equipment, did not install a safety barrier between the powerlines and the pool area, did not install caution signs and did not reduce the risk by purchasing non-conductive pool cleaning tools. The defendant also failed to complete a risk assessment for pool cleaning and provide training for working near overhead powerlines.

Head of Queensland's Electrical Safety Office, Donna Heelan said the laws in place to prevent these kinds of incidents prescribe exclusion zones, which are the minimum safe distance a person or equipment can come to live powerlines, to reduce the risk of an electric shock.

"Working near powerlines can be fatal. Touching them or straying into the exclusion zone around them can result in a serious electric shock or electrocution," Ms Heelan said.

"It is important to remember that you do not even need to come into contact with the powerlines – electricity can arc or jump across gaps.

"It's critical to develop a safe system of work before you start, keep your workers and contractors informed about electrical safety and avoid going into exclusion zones to reduce the risk to you, your workers and the community."

His Honour ordered the defendant pay a fine of $80,000, $5000 to the injured worker, and $1,601.40 total in costs.

Learn more about working on or near Powerlines and electrical cables.

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