WorkSafe ACT is investigating the electric shock incident that occurred on a Canberra building site last week. An apprentice was injured last Thursday, when she suffered an electric shock on the site of an apartment complex.
The incident has attracted a lot of attention and has highlighted the dangerously high rate of injury on Canberra work sites. The territory’s serious injury rate is nearly double the national average, suggesting a bad attitude toward safety.
Young workers shouldn’t be working alone, especially when engaging in dangerous tasks. Also the live circuit should have been switched off and tagged so that it would not be switched on by other workers, this was not done on the site in question which is how the incident occurred. The worker believed that the circuit was off at the time.
The woman is extremely lucky to be alive because incidents such as this claim many lives each year on construction sites. Electric shock can cause injuries including burns and disturbances to heart rhythm (heart failure) that could be fatal.
Read more about the incident below with an excerpt from CanberraTimes.com.au
Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe said early investigations suggested the fourth-year apprentice was working alone on a platform ladder and was shocked by a live circuit that she believed had been switched off.
“It’s supposed to be turned off and when it is, it should be tagged so that no one else turns it back on,” Mr McCabe said. ”She believed it had been turned off, but it had been turned back on.
“We will probably be issuing notices on the employer.
‘There’s a couple of things we’re investigating, mainly some of the work practices involved and how the power, or how the electrical circuit, came to be live.”
The incident follows a spate of workplace accidents and deaths in the territory over the past year and an ACT government inquiry into safety practices in the construction industry.
The building union, the CFMEU, said on Thursday that it could take ”stern action” over the latest accident.
”The CFMEU is extremely concerned about the reports coming from that building site,” branch secretary Dean Hall said.
”This is very distressing. She’s very lucky to be alive.
”Every worker around the territory should be concerned about someone allegedly turning electrical wires back on when they should have been off.”
If you encounter a person on site, or at home that you suspect has suffered an electric shock it is important to remember, disconnect the power supply first.
Don’t even touch the victim until you are sure that the power supply is turned off. Be especially careful in wet areas or around water because water conducts electricity.
It may be safer to turn off the electricity supply to the building if possible to be absolutely sure.
Workers remember once you have turned off a live circuit, tag it so that other workers are aware of what you are doing.
Train young workers such as apprentices in the proper procedures to follow when engaging in any construction work, particular dangerous work so that they are aware of safety procedures and practices to avoid such incidents.