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Air-conditioning installation company fined $150,000 following worker’s electric shock

A significant fine of $150,000 has been imposed on an air-conditioning installation company based in Queensland, Cool Time Industries Pty Ltd, after it failed to ensure the safety of its electricians which resulted in a worker being electrocuted (WHS Queensland v Cool Time Industries Pty Ltd).


In August 2020, Cool Time Industries was asked to provide a quote for the replacement of three air-conditioning units at a veterinary clinic in Capalaba. A Cool Time Industries sales manager visited the clinic to determine the scope of the installation work. During this visit, the sales manager inspected the internal components of the air-conditioning units but failed to examine the outdoor components on the roof of the clinic.

A worker for Cool Time Industries, along with an apprentice, attended the clinic on 28 August 2020 to install two of the new air-conditioning units. When the worker arrived at the site, it became apparent that the job would require electrical work, as the isolators on the air-conditioning units needed to be relocated. While the worker held the relevant licence for installing and servicing air-conditioning units, the worker’s licence to disconnect and reconnect electrical equipment had expired in September 2017. This fact was known to Cool Time Industries. Despite not holding the relevant licence, the worker proceeded to carry out the electrical work required to install the two air-conditioning units.

The worker then returned to the clinic on 1 September 2020 to finish the installation job. On this occasion, the worker was not accompanied by an apprentice. The worker encountered difficulties while completing the installation job as the veterinary clinic remained open and connected to power while the work took place. Cool Time Industries denied the worker’s request for assistance with the installation job. Later that day, the worker was electrocuted while completing the installation job.

While Cool Time Industries had safety procedures in place to identify and manage electrical risks, these protocols were not followed on the day of the incident.


Cool Time Industries pleaded guilty to breaching its electrical safety duty owed to workers under the Electrical Safety Act 2002 (Qld). The Magistrate found that Cool Time Industries had failed to adopt reasonably practicable measures to ensure electrical safety, and minimise or eliminate the risk of death or serious injury to workers. These measures included:

  • correctly identifying the specific tasks that workers would need to undertake while completing a job;
  • identifying whether the assigned worker held the relevant licences and competencies to complete each task at the job site;
  • consulting with workers about the specific tasks and hazards that may arise at each job site, and appropriate risk management strategies that should be implemented; and
  • only allowing workers to perform tasks for which they are licenced and competent to perform.

During sentencing, the Magistrate considered Cool Time Industries’ early guilty plea, clean criminal record and the extensive safety procedures that the company implemented on the advice of a third-party expert safety consultant following the incident. The Magistrate also considered the financial impacts associated with surrendering Cool Time Industries’ electrical contractor’s licence and the small disciplinary fine that the company had already paid in relation to the incident.

Cool Time Industries was fined $150,000 but no conviction was recorded.

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