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Sparkie fined $10,000 for live switchboard in Sunshine Coast classroom


1 February 2024

An electrician has been fined $10,000 after leaving a live switchboard exposed in a classroom placing students who were present at significant risk.

At the time of the offence, the defendant was working as an electrical contractor hired to install air conditioning units at a Sunshine Coast school.

The contractor had been instructed to cease work in one of the temporary classrooms, but he ignored the instruction and started live testing on the switchboard inside.

He left the live switchboard with the escutcheon panel removed and live terminals exposed and unattended for a short period of time.

QBuild officers who were at the school at the same time saw the switchboard open and reported the offence to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.

The defendant pleaded guilty to offences under the Electrical Safety Act including failing to conduct his business in a way that was electrically safe and exposing individuals to risk of death or injury.

The presiding magistrate noted this was a serious offence as school children who are “naturally inquisitive” and “unpredictable beings” could easily have been exposed to risk.

Mitigating factors in the case including an early guilty plea and a first offence. The defendant also voluntarily agreed to undertake a retraining course, and further courses mandated by the Electrical Licensing Committee at a cost of $1000, as an expression of genuine remorse.

Magistrate McLaughlin commented that based on the mitigating factors presented, he would ordinarily have sentenced the defendant to a fine in a range of $15,000 - $20,000.

However, he took into consideration the defendant’s very limited income over several years, which he equated to ‘minimum wage’ earnings, and for that reason, he imposed a fine of $10,000. No conviction was recorded.

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