In September 2021 a licensed electrical worker received burns to his arm and fingers while fitting off rooftop DC isolators on a solar PV system.
Investigations revealed at the same time he was fitting off the DC isolator, two electrical apprentices were installing the solar panels. The apprentices prematurely connected the PV panels together, energising the PV array cables.
As the electrical worker was preparing the array cables for termination in the DC isolator, an arc was drawn between the cores of the array cable. They tried to separate the cores, resulting in burns to their arm and fingers.
The Electrical Licensing Committee took disciplinary action against the electrical contractor, fining them $1,000. The licensed electrical worker was issued with a $400 infringement notice by the Electrical Safety Office and their electrical work licence was suspended for three months. They were fined $200 by the Electrical Licencing Committee.
Electrical work should always be performed in accordance with a safe system of work and electrical contractors should consult with their workers when developing these systems.
When developing a safe system of work ensure:
- clear and concise communication within the work group to identify:
- tasks to be performed
- risk associated with the task
- the way the electrical work is to be performed.
- appropriate and effective test procedures including verification electrical equipment is de-energised
- lock out and tag out procedures to ensure electrical equipment cannot be inadvertently energised
- appropriate supervision of trainees/apprentices.
Electrical contractors should have a process in place to verify all workers are following the documented safe system of work.
The Managing electrical risks in the workplace code of practice 2021 (PDF, 1.25 MB) provides further information on:
- the risk management process (section 2)
- specific hazards and risk control for electrical (section 3)
- risk controls – working near energised parts (section 7)
- risks associated with electrical work (Appendix C).