1 min read

Death of worker at power station caused by equipment fault

An electricity provider has determined that its failure to detect a deficiency in its equipment led directly to the death of one of its workers who had otherwise been correctly following procedures.

The internal investigation by Energy Australia found that in November 2018, Mr Graeme Edwards was correctly reinstalling a high voltage circuit breaker at the Yallourn Power Station when an arc flash occurred causing fatal injuries.

The fault was due to a communications cable which was found to be too long and which allowed electricity to short circuit to earth.

The findings of the investigation report, which was reported recently in the ABC News, included that the barrier in place to prevent access to the circuit breaker was inadequate because it was movable and allowed for inadvertent contact with the live component.

Since the incident, immovable barriers have been installed on top of each circuit breaker to prevent any inadvertent access and the findings have been shared with industry and the safety regulator.

The tragic death of Mr Edwards is a reminder for all organisations, not only about the dangers of electrical hazards, but also the importance of regularly reviewing and assessing the adequacy of existing safety controls and equipment, particularly for high-risk work activities.

Safe Work Australia has set out some general questions to ask about the adequacy of your safety systems which include:

• Do you talk to your workers about safety?

• Do any relevant new work methods or equipment have the potential to make work safer in your workplace?

• Are procedures for identifying hazards in the workplace effective?

• Are safety procedures followed? Do you encourage your workers to report hazards?

• Do you regularly inspect and maintain your equipment to identify safety problems?

• Do you fix or rectify identified hazards in a timely manner?

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