The Electrical Trades Union says that a ban on live electrical work may anger some tradespeople but in the long run it would be a good decision because of the number of lives it would save. They say people could be spared from injury and death by the ban.
According to reports in the media, EnergySafety is considering the introduction of a ban on work being conducted on energised electrical equipment after the deaths of 2 men last month.
Recently 22 year old Matt Hutchins and 30 year old Alan Cummins were killed while working on a high voltage structure at a shopping mall in Perth. The 2 deaths prompted the Electrical Trade Unions to back the suggestion that a ban be implemented.
Following the accident last month EnergySafety issued a directive to electricians stating that high voltage oil-insulated combined-fuse switches such as those involved in the shopping centre explosion must be completely disconnected from the electricity supply before the switch lid is opened.
The union’s WA branch secretary Les McLaughlan said it was considering placing mandatory restrictions on conducting electrical work on or near energised equipment.
The union recognises that electricians may not be happy with the move at first because it would likely result in them spending more time on the job, probably having to work after hours, the ultimate concern is safety.
Mr McLaughlin made the following statement in relation to the ban, “If your position is that we want to make the job as safe as possible and we want people to come home from work safely, then if you’re working with electricity, the only safe way to work with electricity is to have the power de-energised.
“That will mean that you have to do it after hours, in some instances.
“It means you have to make arrangements and plan the job and it may take a bit longer but that is the price you pay to make sure people don’t get killed or electrocuted at work.
“It will make it better for electricians who go their workplace and they’re under pressure not to knock off the power to be able to say ‘it is illegal for me to work on this’.
“It takes away most of that pressure.”
Whether or not the ban is implemented, it is important that electricians are aware of the risks involved in construction work and it is equally important that other tradespeople are aware of electrical hazards when working on building and construction sites. This is one of the reasons why general construction induction training – known as The White Card has been made mandatory throughout all states and territories in Australia.