Halls Head electric company fined $20,000 after apprentice nearly died from electric shock

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A Halls Head electricity company has been fined over $21,000 after an apprentice nearly died from electric shock.

Xtra Solutions Pty Ltd (EC12559) trading as Xtra Electrical pleaded guilty to two offenses in Mandurah Magistrates Court this month.

The court heard, a 19-year-old second-year apprentice and his supervising electrician went to a business premises in January 2020 to unplug and remove an electric water heater.

During a phone call, the supervisor directed the apprentice to a kitchen cabinet where the 19-year-old began cutting and disconnecting the wiring for the hot water unit inside.

Shortly after, the apprentice received an electric shock of up to 240 volts and was unable to let go of the electrified cable in his hand for at least 30 seconds.

The supervising electrician and building tenant moved him away from the cabinet area and started CPR.

Paramedics arrived within seven minutes to find the apprentice had stopped breathing and had no pulse, but luckily they were able to resuscitate him with a defibrillator.

An investigation by Building and Energy revealed that a circuit breaker that supplied power to the cabinet wiring had been left on during the work, which allowed some wires to remain live or “live”.

Xtra Solutions Pty Ltd was fined $20,000 for ineffective supervision and an additional $1,500 because the apprentice did not hold the electrician’s training license, which was required for the work he was carrying out on the property.

Magistrate Leanne Atkins said the apprentice had been ‘brought back, indeed, from the dead’ and the youngster no longer wanted to work in the electrical industry.

WA’s energy safety manager, Saj Abdoolakhan, said the case was a stark reminder of why specific rules and responsibilities are in place when working with apprentice electricians.

“This incident could easily have been a tragedy for a young man at the start of his career,” he said.

“These laws are in place to ensure that employers do the right thing with their apprentices and keep them safe. It is unacceptable for an employer to place a trainee in such a dangerous situation by failing to ensure that the installation was de-energized as required by law.

“I urge the industry to ensure they isolate and test all electrical installations to verify that they are properly de-energized before anyone works on them.”