The director of a company contracted to install solar power systems at a Gold Coast commercial building in 2021 was fined $4000 in the Southport Magistrates Court, plus $1000 costs for an arc flash incident which caused serious injuries.
The defendant who is a licensed electrical contractor, engaged another electrical contractor to run DC cabling at the site in preparation for electrical work to be carried out during a power shutdown the following morning.
However, as no electrical work was planned to take place the day before installation, live power was still running to and from the switchboards when the two contractors entered the main switchboard room to determine the size cable required to do the job.
The defendant removed the switchboard cabinet doors unscrewing and partially opening the escutcheon panel to inspect the cables behind the switchboard.
The defendant was unable to identify the relevant cable size, so he used a screwdriver to remove the protective plastic cover shielding, exposing the live terminals and power cables. The screwdriver either contacted or came close to the live cables, causing an arc flash which seriously injured both men.
Upon sentencing, the magistrate took into account the serious physical and psychological injuries suffered by the contractor and the defendant himself, as well as the distress caused to the defendant’s family and financial loss from not being able to conduct his business.
The defendant held an electrical safety duty to take reasonable care for his own electrical safety and that his acts or omissions did not adversely affect the electrical safety of other people or property. He failed to comply with these duties which exposed himself and another individual to serious risks.