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Small business and its director fined for unsafe electrical practices

After a hearing in the Toowoomba Magistrates Court recently, a small concreting business and its sole director have been fined $42,500 for unsafe electrical practices, exposing people to risk of serious injury or death.

The court heard that the business had been contracted to pour a concrete driveway and housing surrounds in Glenvale. Before the pour, the sole director hired an electrician to disconnect and later reconnect electricity to two air conditioning units.

The business was subsequently ordered by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission to rectify defects in the concreting work, which required the same two air conditioning units to again be removed and electricity to them disconnected.

In August 2017, after unsuccessfully obtaining a licensed electrician to remove the air conditioners, the company director disconnected the electrical supply himself and removed the units, work for which he did not hold a license. In doing the work, the defendant left two sets of electrical supply wiring exposed and improperly terminated with duct tape placed around the end of the exposed wires for 24 to 48 hours. After that, he returned to the property and attempted to cover the wiring from one of the units.

There was no evidence to establish the wires were live at the time the director left the residence, although this could have occurred. A later inspection showed the circuit breakers in the main switchboard supplying both isolators were in the on position, although the isolator switches were off, presenting a risk of death or serious injury.

In sentencing, Magistrate Kay Ryan noted the defendant had no history of previous offending, had cooperated with the investigation and entered an early guilty plea. She took into consideration there was no evidence the wires were left in a live state and some efforts had been made by the defendant to reduce the risk. However, a licensed electrician should have done the work.

No conviction was recorded, with the business fined $35,000, plus legal and professional costs of almost $850. The business owner was fined $7500, plus legal and professional costs of almost $850. No conviction was recorded.

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