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Switchboards causing electric shock from unsafe battery powered devices

The Electrical Safety Office was notified of two separate incidents where meter readers received an electric shock.

In both incidents the meter readers tested the outside of the meter box with a proximity voltage tester to check it was not live. However, upon touching the scroll button on the electricity meter they received an electric shock.

The electricity distributor found power monitoring devices attached to the switchboard had leaked battery acid onto the electricity meter creating an unsafe situation.

What should you do?

Check for the presence of these devices when first opening the switchboard, noting they may be installed in hard to see locations.

Maintain battery powered devices such as energy monitoring systems (pictured), timeclocks or communication equipment. If these devices are not maintained they can leak an alkaline substance onto equipment located below, creating a potential electric shock hazard and damaging equipment.

Energy monitoring system

If batteries have leaked, make note of the extent of the leakage and ensure suitable controls are in place to eliminate the shock hazard and chemical exposure. This may include advising the owner to have the device and associated cabling removed.

To avoid the risk to equipment and people, unused battery powered devices should:

  • have their batteries removed
  • be located so that battery leakage does not endanger other electrical equipment or be removed (including any associated cabling).

What if I receive an electric shock?

Once you've made sure the site is safe and anyone injured is being cared for, you must notify us of an incident.

Further information