Kerryn O’Connor was just 35 years old when she was electrocuted by a faulty pump that hadn’t been designed, manufactured or tested to Australian safety standards.
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RUN TIME: 6 mins 10 secs
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All the worries that all parents have, but the last thing we would ever have thought of losing any of our kids was through an electrical accident.
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I’m Jim, this is my lovely wife, Rob.
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We were married young.
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We didn’t muck around. We were married very young.
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17 months later, Alanna and Kerryn come along. So we were a happy little band of five. Very inquisitive and happy kids. Sean was always looking after his little sisters.
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Kerryn was... She was probably my sidekick, I guess. Kerryn was always tagging along. So when I was a kid and I started racing BMX, then she jumped in and raced it and it wasn't enough to race with the girls. She'd race in with the boys. But I guess the point is, if I ever sort of needed a sidekick, we were going camping or going on an adventure or something she would always come along.
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There’s Kerryn. Beautiful girl. Beautiful, beautiful girl.
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Dry seasons in North Queensland, there are pretty big water restrictions. So really tight for years on end. So if you had a bore you could just splash the water around like nothing. If we ran the pump too long, it would would silt up, it would get a bit clogged. Yeah. She must have been trying to, you know, dunk it to flush it out.
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But at some stage she's touched it. It had a hidden electrical fault in it. She she couldn't let go.
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Jim got a phone call and it was half past 12. And he woke me up and said, Kerryn’s gone.
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We knew roughly the circumstance. We knew it was, she had been electrocuted and it was a pump. The poor thing for for all of the things that she, adventures she had gone on and been through and survived and everything she she died alone in her back yard. I guess the reason why we're putting ourselves through this is we just don't want anybody else to have to.
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Look, if I was sitting on the couch and I read that somebody else had, you know, unknowingly plugged an appliance in and it had taken them from their family. And it was because of you know, awareness. And people didn't know. That's why we're doing this.
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I did the examination on the bore pump. The design of the bore pump was flawed. She didn't know that the product was not designed to Australian standards and the electrical wiring caused the outer metal casing of the pump to go live. The supplier failed to ensure that the product was marked with the RCM, the Regulatory Compliance Mark, to indicate that he had taken responsibility for the safety of the product, that it had been tested to the Australian standards and had been tested to be electrically safe.
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Kerryn didn’t buy the pump. It was purchased online from an Australian supplier. In Australia, if a person wanted to buy something and they were thinking they're being cautious and they're thinking if I buy it in Australia it’ll be safe because well that's not the case. There’s so many things that are being imported and they don't realise until something happens like this.
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You owe it to your family and to yourself to ensure that the products that you buy are electrically safe and have been tested to be electrically safe.
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A process was put in place in Australia called the RCM or the Regulatory Compliance Mark. Things have always got like a little bill tag, part number, serial number, the RCM logo. That’s what you're looking for.
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It's going to be other things, not just pumps. I mean, you could be talking about a toaster, a heater, anything.
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Look for the RCM, the Regulatory Compliance Mark. A tick inside the circle, inside the triangle as a sure sign that the product has been tested to be electrically safe.
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And also the other thing we'd really like to see is that every circuit is protected with a safety switch because in this instance, somewhere along the line, someone hadn't done the right thing. And it just would mean the difference between Kerryn being with us and not being with us.
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She probably wouldn't have even gone, oh. It would have just tripped straight up. It takes about that much electrical current to go through your heart and stop it. And I said, the safety switch kicks in just a fraction before that.
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The safety switch disconnects the source of electricity when a fault is detected. One of the lessons from Kerryn’s story is that an electrical safety switch, if fitted to the circuit on the pump, could very well have saved her life.
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If the pump manufacturer had’ve done his stuff. If the first electrician that worked on the rental house had’ve done his stuff and advised the owner of the house.
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Many people did the wrong thing and Kerryn was the only one who didn't. And Kerryn’s the one who's paid the price for it. It didn't have to happen. That's the sad thing. It was preventable. It shouldn't shouldn't have happened.
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Kerryn’s story shows we all have a part to play in the sale, importing, supply and purchasing of electrical equipment in all our homes to ensure that they are electrically safe.