Shining a light on electrical safety

The week of 7 to 11 September 2020 is Electricity Safety week for 2020.

It is an opportunity for WorkCover Queensland to shine a light on not only the dangers of electrical incidents in the workplace but also the rights and obligations on businesses, workers and contractors.

First and foremost, it is important for businesses to understand their obligations and duties in respect of conducting their business in a manner which is electrically safe.

The Electrical Safety Act 2002 (Qld) requires that a person conducting a business or undertaking must ensure the person’s business or undertaking is conducted in a way that is electrically safe. 

Such duties include:

  • Ensuring that all electrical equipment used in the person’s business or undertaking is electrically safe;
  • Ensuring the electrical safety of all persons and property likely to be effected by electrical work performed by the business or undertaking;
  • Ensuring that persons performing work for the business or undertaking involving contact with, or being near to, exposed parts, are electrically safe.

These specific duties in relation to electrical safety compliment the ordinary duties owed by an employer to an employee which include:

  • Providing and maintaining safe plant and equipment;
  • Providing and maintaining a safe system of work;
  • Providing safe access to an egress from the workplace;
  • Providing a safe place of work.

Duties and Obligations of Workers and Contractors

The Act requires that employees or contractors carrying out any work for a business or undertaking:

  • Take reasonable care for their own health and safety and electrical safety;
  • Take reasonable care that their conduct, acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of others or adversely effect the electrical safety of other persons or property;
  • Comply, so far as they are reasonably able to, with instructions;
  • Cooperate with reasonable health and safety and electrical safety policies or procedures that have been notified to them.

Notification of Serious Electrical Incidents

A person conducting a business or undertaking must, pursuant to the Electrical Safety Regulation 2013, notify the regulator once they become aware of a “serious electrical incident” or “dangerous electrical event” arising out of the conduct of their business or undertaking.

A “serious electrical incident” is defined as including where a person:

  • Is killed by electricity;
  • Receives a shock or injury from electricity, and is treated for the shock or injury by or under the supervision of a Doctor;
  • Receives a shock or injury from electricity at high voltage, whether or not the person is treated for the shock or injury by or under the supervision of a Doctor.

Treatment is taken to include the application of creams or dressings, cleaning and dressing of wounds, setting of broken bones or strapping strains/sprains or administering or prescribing of medication.  However, treatment does not include periods of precautionary observation or non-invasive monitoring such as ECG.

A “dangerous electrical event” is defined as including:

  • When a person, for any reason, is electrically unsafe around high voltage electrical equipment, even if the person doesn’t receive an electrical shock or injury;
  • Significant property damage caused by electricity or something originating from electricity;
  • Unsafe electrical work;
  • Unsafe electrical equipment or electrical equipment that does not have electrical equipment safety system approval markings.

Notification of such incidents must be provided to the regulator, The Electrical Safety Office, Queensland.

Rights of a Worker Injured in a Workplace Electrical Event

Employees who are injured in the course of their employment as a result of an electrical incident will have rights to compensation under the WorkCover scheme in Queensland.  An entitlement to compensation is dependant upon the injured person meeting the criteria, namely:

(a) The person must be a “worker” under the Act;

(b) The person must have sustained an “injury” under the Act; and

(c) Work must be a significant contributing factor to the injury.

A worker injured in such an incident will have an entitlement to statutory compensation as well as a potential, common law damages claim.  Legal advice should be sought at a very early stage to ensure their rights are protected. 

If there is any question as to whether the person is a “worker”, ie they may be an independent contractor, advice should be sought as compensation may be available by way of a public liability claim against the person conducting the business rather than through the workers compensation scheme.

Crew Legal are experts in undertaking compensation claims on behalf of injured persons.  Contact Crew Legal today for an obligation free assessment of your rights.

How can Crew Legal help?

Crew Legal pride ourselves on providing quality advice at the right price. We will ensure that you receive the best advice for your situation and are committed to ensuring that everybody has access to that advice.

We provide a first consultation completely free and with no obligation. If the claim is undertaken, we will proceed with such claims on a ‘No Win/No Fee’ basis.

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